Church of England Grave
Church of England

Church of England mistakes mission for the management of decline

 

One of the best things Christians are doing all over the country at the moment is organising and hosting General Election hustings for their local communities. Last time round, in 2010, 67 per cent of hustings were held in church buildings. These are perfect opportunities for churches to offer a neutral venue and show both the candidates and their communities that God and politics can mix.

On Monday it was my church’s turn to put on such an evening, which I had the privilege of chairing. These events provide a rare opportunity for the public to see democracy in action and, judging by the hundreds of people arriving even before the doors had opened, there is certainly an appetite for it. I can’t speak for every other constituency, but the one thing that stood out as the candidates did their thing was that each one was there because they care about this country and want to see it thrive and prosper. Although some of the statements and party policies being presented were seriously flawed, there was passion and a desire for change for the better in abundance. That’s not something you often come across in a church, especially an Anglican one.

If I was asked whether it would be easier to sort out the country or the Church of England, I’d be inclined to go with the former. This nation and the CofE have got a lot in common: both are in a bit of a mess, living in the shadow of better days; both need to sort out past failures which have caused serious decline; both have strong political divides; and both are currently strapped for cash. But whilst in politics there are plenty of people who want to do something to work towards a better future, I’m not entirely convinced the same can be said for the CofE.

I’m not the first to say that the Church of England needs to ask itself some hard questions about its future. Nationally, Church attendance continues to decline year on year and while some denominations, particularly among the black churches, are seeing significant growth, this overall fall in numbers is mostly a result of the CofE’s aging congregations simply dying off and not being replaced. The bells are ringing out in alarm in the realm of Anglicanism, but too many would rather stick their fingers in their ears than let the din stir them into action.

Last week Fulcrum, which seeks to represent the centre ground of Evangelical Anglicanism, held an event asking if the Church of England was “drinking in the last-chance saloon”. It was addressed by the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev’d Pete Broadbent, who has frequently voiced the need for change within the church and has a reputation for speaking his mind. He was fully behind the “prophetic impatience” of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has “made a fair amount of protesting noise that we actually weren’t dealing with reality”. He went on to say: “Unfortunately, there are bishops around the place who think: ‘Well actually, we’ve just got to cater for this ongoing decline in our Church.’ And I worry about that.”

By way of illustration of Bishop Pete’s point, my church is an Anglican church which has seen its numbers grow over the years. Just like with any successful business, our leadership is fully aware that the bigger an organisation is, the more staff and volunteers it will need to keep it running and meet all the pastoral and structural needs. We have always been refused a curate because our church ‘does not carry out enough weddings and funerals’. So, instead, alongside our minister and lay staff, we have chosen to employ an assistant minister, fully-funded from our own income. However, being in the Church of England, permission has to be sought from the Bishop and Diocese before any appointment can be made.

One might think that such a request would be enthusiastically received. Growing churches which can afford to employ additional staff are surely to be encouraged. But our experience is has been one of consistent discouragement. Because there is a shortage of ordained clergy in our diocese, our request has been deemed selfish and inappropriate. Other positions must be filled first, we have been told. This is frankly absurd, because clergy are not restricted to working in a single diocese for their entire life, and what has other churches’ inability to appoint got to do with ours? For more than three years, our church has been patiently waiting for a change of mind at the top. A new bishop has recently been appointed, but even with a change of direction we can expect to wait at least another year before anyone could be appointed. In the meantime, our current vicar is working a 60-hour week and is severely overstretched, making it all the more difficult for our church to put many of its plans for mission into action.

Fortunately, this sort of situation is not the case throughout the Church of England. But often it would appear that those churches which are growing are doing so despite rather than because of the structures and hierarchy.

If you study the Church in the New Testament, you’ll see that it grew rapidly due to the Holy Spirit working through men and women who were zealously mission-minded; committed to the teaching of the scriptures and radically counter-cultural. Jesus told his followers to go and make disciples. He knew the importance of discipleship. That is why He invested so much time and energy teaching and encouraging the chosen 12. He gave them and others a solid grounding in their faith that when the time came they were able to lead the Church and set the world on fire.

However, as was pointed out during the Fulcrum event, prominent figures have been writing in the Church Times dismissing outright the need for discipleship in the church. Well, that’s fine if you want a multitude of church attenders who don’t know what they should believe and with no significant grasp of what it means to be a Christian. St Paul and the writer to the Hebrews are completely dismissive of this attitude, talking about believers still needing baby milk when they should be on adult food.

But at least the Church of England is forcing itself to address growth and talk about it. People don’t magically start coming along to church and become Christians just because you want numbers to increase. It requires theological, spiritual and pastoral investment throughout the Church; not just at the top. Most of all, the Church needs to be put into God’s hands and that means allowing Him to do some potentially uncomfortable things which will disturb our sensibilities and challenge our attitudes and lifestyles.

Bishop Pete, by the sound of things, is completely up for this, as are other bishops who are working hard to see growth happen. But, sadly, not all.

Many believe that the biggest struggle the Church of England currently faces is its attitude towards and dealings with those who are LGBT. This is undoubtedly a great and pressing issue, but I believe that the biggest battle is actually for the CofE’s very existence. Decisions to be made over the coming years will determine whether the Church is taken in the direction of those who are happy to see it managed in steady decline toward oblivion, or of those who seek growth in both numbers and spiritual maturity through the work of the Holy Spirit, emboldening and sending out God’s people to take His kingdom into every pocket of our society to transform and bless it.

Seeing my church full to the brim on Monday, and witnessing a group of people not afraid to stand up and declare what they believe, was wonderful to see. If politics and politicians can cause this to happen, surely faith in the Risen Christ can inspire far more?

  • Watchman

    There are so many theological errors in this piece that it is difficult to know where to start. Politics belong to the kingdom of this world, the church (not the CofE) is of the Kingdom of God. Democracy appears only once in my bible and that is merely to report that Paul had a vote in the Sanhedrin, so why is democracy being upheld as though it has some spiritual virtue?

    If Jesus is Head of His Church would it not be a good idea to ask Him what he wants to do with it, where He wants to lead it and what strategies, tactics and tasks he would like to use to get it there. As Head of His Church I suspect that He would like to be intimately involved in its activities. The disciples were impotent until the arrival of the Holy Spirit and the way the church acts today is largely through the machinations of human intelligence (if that’s what it’s called) rather than the guidance of The Holy Spirit through whom the will of the Head of the church can be discerned. The future of the CofE in this article seems to depend on human will and management programmes rather than the supernatural involvement of the One it is purported to serve. The possibility that the CofE is superfluous to requirements should be given serious consideration when discussing the future of God’s Kindom.

    • Graham Wood

      Watchman. Good post. One further point about theological confusion which sadly still lies at the heart of the C of E and which is entirely counter productive as well as being unscriptural is the foolish “clergy/lay dichotomy.
      There is no such thing and the distinction needs to be abolished and reversion to the NT pattern of church life re-instated so that the “lay” can be mobilised and function as God intends..

      • Watchman

        Thank you, Graham, for drawing attention to such an important error of most churches. Far from abolishing the priesthood Jesus extended it to all believers. I wonder how many believers realise they are being robbed of the fullness of their birthright by usurpers of the authority of their King!

    • IanCad

      We all tend to overlook another lesson from the Bible regarding democracy:

      “Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?”
      Matthew 27:17

      • Watchman

        Is mob rule the same as democracy?

        • IanCad

          Absolutely. Unless modified by a constitution.

          • Watchman

            So, the UK, having no written constitution has, officially, form of mob rule as government. What an interesting concept! My guess is that this is orchestrated only under the Labour Party at the behest of the trade unions whose expertise seems to be in “mob rule”

          • IanCad

            Written or not, we have a constitution.
            We also have a legal system largely governed by precedent.
            Sure, the franchise is wide, and indeed, is a mob, with all the passions and beastliness that goes with it.

          • SeekTruthFromFacts

            The Labour Party and trade unions have clear rule books and the Labour Party has more discipline than many English churches, sadly. Most mobs on English streets are organised by right-wing groups like the EDL.

        • bmudmai

          It certainly would be should liberals get their way with a PR system in place.

          • SeekTruthFromFacts

            Do you think Wales is characterised by “mob rule”?! Assembly elections use PR

          • bmudmai

            After living in Wales for 3 years, I would say so.

      • alternative_perspective

        I think you find this instructive:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacyclosis

        • IanCad

          Yes! Very interesting.
          I’d bet that good old Polybius was the source of Lord Woodhouselee’s (Alexander Tytler) famous cycle of governance.
          Wonder if he gave him any attribution?

    • SeekTruthFromFacts

      On democracy: Genesis 1-2 includes “ruling”as a key part of humanity’s mission in God’s world. If we are all involved in government, then we are more fully human because we are all carrying out together the mandate the Lord gave us in the Garden.

      On the LGBT question, there are two aspects. Firstly the Bible is quite clear about certain homosexual acts, and I think Mr Scott would agree with you about that. However, there is a second aspect, which is the existence of a gay community which sees itself primarily through that lens. The Bible doors not directly mention such a situation any more than it mentions mobile phones. If we want to support e.g. brothers who have no sexual desire for women, and see people from the LGBT communities come to repentance and faith, then the church needs to do some hard thinking and praying.

      • Watchman

        Very patient of The Creator to wait till the Greeks came along and gave us a system of choosing our leaders. There is no evidence whatever that He wanted us all involved in governing ourselves; in fact the evidence is to the contrary: the men He chose were all men of substance or men He could trust and guide to lead. Nowhere, in my bible did God institute a system of majority determined rule; when men did this it ended in chaos and disobedience to Him.

        That’s fine, lets have communities for every sin imaginable so that we can justify ourselves by pointing out that we are not the only sinful one so that we do not need to repent. All sin is a choice to be disobedient and the only way we should deal with that is to repent not form a “community” of similar people. The church simply needs to preach God’s message of salvation and welcome those who repent and live lives worthy of their salvation.

    • Sigfridiii

      There is no theological confusion of any kind in the article. The CofE Plc is fading away, because it first turned itself into a confederation of diocesan Plc’s and then appointed well-meaning but nincompoop bishops to run them. Genteel decline management is so much easier to do than all that awkward business of going out and making disciples of all the nations. What did that Jesus fellow know, anyhow? It’s all Incarnational, you see, my dear. We just have to be nice to everyone (in public, anyhow) and leave it to the Incarnate Lord to deal with the falling numbers. If he wants to fill the churches, he will. Meanwhile we must arrange another nice senior staff retreat in Venice…get on with the really important things that a bishop has to do.

      • Watchman

        Thank you, Sigi, you sarcasm made me laugh because I’m afraid that it is true!. I mentioned theological error and you theological confusion and I find no conflict in our offerings to this thread. They are in error because they are not confused; it would never occur to them that there apostasy has led them to the valley of dry bones without having a clue on how to resurrect them. One cleric I know wouldn’t dream of allowing the Holy Spirit into his church because it might disturb his power base and as much as said so. It is not our church, it is the Church of King Jesus and in my exprience He has never not paid for anything He ordered!

  • matthewcashmore

    On this point Archbishop I respectfully submit that you are being a little selfish. There is a serious shortage of clergy and a bigger picture needs to be looked at – not just your wonderful (I mean that quite sincerely) church.

    Why do you need an assistant minister or curate? Could the work not be done by lay ministers or other lay leaders? It sounds as if you want a curate to pick up work (rather than to come and learn) and it sounds like you want an assistant minister because that’s the only person who can do the work that needs to be done.

    Perhaps a broader view of discipleship and the talents of lay people would help in your situation? The Church can not and will not succeed, grow, and help in both practical and spiritual matters within the country and beyond if it does not recognise this simple fact.

    • RuariJM

      “So, instead, we have chosen to employ an assistant minister, fully-funded from our own income

      • matthewcashmore

        “So, instead, we have chosen to employ an assistant minister, fully-funded from our own income. However, being in the Church of England, permission has to be sought from the Bishop and Diocese before any appointment can be made.”

        This suggests the employment of an *ordained* assistant minister – not a *lay* minister, which is rather different. This becomes more clear within the context later in the article,

        “Because there is a shortage of ordained clergy in our diocese, our request has been deemed selfish and inappropriate.”

        Unless I’ve misunderstood and in this case the author is using the titles of posts in a slightly confusing and non-standard way. Which, this being a broad church is entirely possible né probable.

        • RuariJM

          You said

          “I respectfully submit that you are being selfish”.

          The CofE is cash-strapped, there is need in a busy parish – the vicar is working a 60-hr week and is probably still unable to do everything – and the Parish can afford to pay the much-needed additional member of staff.

          I really don’t get your objection. Much-needed financial resources will not be diverted from elsewhere, the work of the Church will be boosted, the Vicar won’t be burned out – what’s not to like?

          • matthewcashmore

            Sorry, I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well.

            I am all for the church hiring a *lay* member of staff to pick up the work in this clearly successful church – I don’t think they *need* an ordained person to do this work. In this case it appears that the church only wants to employ an ordained person or to bring in a curate to do work (rather than to come and learn).

            ” Could the work not be done by (paid) lay ministers or other lay leaders? ”

            I do not object to the church spending money on more staff in any way. I’m all for it.

          • RuariJM

            It may be me; I’m not CofE, I’m RC. I get the stuff about stipendiary clergy and that but one would expect that a flourishing parish would get the staff it needs – especially if it could pay for it itself – and the less successful would face some kind of reorganisation.

            I have seen and lived through both – in particular, more than once, how an energetic PP was able to transform a parish that looked to be on its last legs and turn it into a vibrant community with services packed, three times a day.

            It just seems so odd – but, as I said, I’m RC, not CofE.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        Care to visit?
        Happy Jack likes you.

        http://httpwwwmreman.blogspot.co.uk/

        • RuariJM

          Lucy looks happy!

    • On this point, Mr Cashmore, you might (respectfully) note the authorship.

      • matthewcashmore

        and… you would be right to point that out! Sorry Archbishop, I respectfully apologise! It is confusing when I see a tweet from you, to a story that has your name at the top (brand rather than name perhaps?) and a tiny authorship byline for Gillian – my mistake, your not great UI.

    • We have a large number of lay leaders in many roles, but that can never be a complete substitute for full-time staff who can devote time and energy to some areas that would otherwise be somewhat neglected (particularly on the pastoral side – also administering communion). The lack of clergy excuse is partly a symptom of the way clergy training has been managed. We have put a number of lay leaders forward for ordination. Some have gone through and other very good ones have been rejected. The reluctance to support churches that are seeking to be missional and grow is hard to fanthom.

      • matthewcashmore

        I guess that’s my point really… I see no reason why you can’t employ, on a full time basis, a lay person who you can pay for out of your own funds with little *interference* from others. I can’t imagine anyone in your diocese would have a problem with your employing, out of your own funds, a full time lay role.

        That way you get to develop ministry that is lay rather than ordained, develop discipleship in directions that do not require a collar – being missional does not require more priests – it requires more people to proclaim the Word through action and engagement.

        So yes, many lay leaders can never be a substitute for a full time staff member – so employ a full time staff member who isn’t ordained. To suggest that a full time lay person doesn’t have the ability to serve in a pastoral role is to ignore the calling of those people who may be rejected (as you say) for ordination because that is not their calling.

        Yes, I do accept that mass and other roles can only be carried out by a ordained priest but the vast majority of a priests work can be *done* by a lay member of staff.

        Employ more people to support your church and help it grow – show lay people in your church that they have a role to play in the pastoral support and growth of your parish and that the priest isn’t the only person who can and should do these things.

        • SeekTruthFromFacts

          Mr Cashmore, you want this parish to appoint lay person X to fill the assistant minister post. Which of the following situations is closest to the one you’re imagining?
          a) X isn’t trained to the same standard as an ordained ministers, but it’s fine, because they don’t need Greek and can find answers to difficult questions as they go along.
          b) X’s three years at theological college were paid for by their savings. They’re not ordained because they didn’t feel they needed a bishop or anyone else to check the call the Holy Spirit had given them.
          c) X was trained by another denomination that doesn’t have a concept of ordination, but they can easily transfer to an Anglican parish.

          Feel free to supply D.

          • matthewcashmore

            Your assumption starts from the theory that in order to be a useful member of a church leadership team (full time and paid) one needs to attend a theological college and be trained to understand the academic complexities of theology.

            My assumption starts from the theory that there is wide and varied training available to non-ordained and non-ordained-in-training available and that training should be contextual for the needs of mission.

            A priest requires training much more akin, but not exclusively so, to your assumption – it’s one I have little argument with at all. I often find myself defending my quite academic training at Cuddesdon to friends who don’t understand why I need to know NT Greek in order to celebrate the mass.

            A lay minister on the other hand does not require such a deep academic understanding of NT Greek because that is not their missional role – rather they perhaps require different training – and that training is available broadly both part time and full time.

            Employ a lay person with sufficient knowledge and skill, whose calling is to be missional but not necessarily ordained, offer that person further training (the parish is happy with a curate so why not a lay person with a degree in sociology / theology etc?) using one of the many courses now available at TEIs all over the country for lay leaders in ministry.

            I am struggling to see why a parish can ONLY have ordained people on staff and can ONLY be missional with ordained people running the show and doing the ‘work’.

            This is not an either or argument it is one of diversity to better enable missional work given the talents and resources of a particular church.

            So option D:

            X is trained to the same standard as an ordained minister, either before employment or as a *curate* after studying a suitable degree, at a suitable TEI and works full time in a staff role to support the ordained minister in their mission in brining the Word through worship, action and engagement with the parish. X is not a Priest. X is a person whose calling it is to to support this parish.

          • SeekTruthFromFacts

            I can’t see the difference between your scenario D and my B. If X is properly trained, why wouldn’t they be ordained? They would need to be licensed to preach anyway. It seems a straightforward application of Article 23:

            “It is not lawful for any man to take upon him the office of publick preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the Congregation, before he be lawfully called, and sent to execute the same.

            And those we ought to judge lawfully called and sent, which be chosen and called to this work by men who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard.”

            The lawful system of calling and sending to public preaching is ordination. It doesn’t make you into a different person or even give you magic hands, but it does set you aside to focus on preaching and the Sacraments. That’s what an assistant minister should be doing.

          • SeekTruthFromFacts

            Maybe you see an assistant minister as more like a social worker or community organiser? Obviously a lay Christian can be a social worker but that’s not the kind of teaching elder that Mr Scott’s church wants and the Bible describes. I’m not even sure whether the church should be paying for that kind of role.

          • matthewcashmore

            Mr Scott doesn’t talk about employing an ‘elder’ he talks about first wanting a curate (about as junior a minister as you can get) and then an assistant minister – certainly far from an elder.

          • matthewcashmore

            Mr SeekTruthFromFacts,

            I’m afraid I disagree, there are many many exceptional non-ordained people who are licensed (LLMs are just scratching the surface) and to suggest that ‘publick preaching’ is the main part of what an assistant minister does is to miss the what a modern engaged church is about – and retaining those views is what will lead, ultimately (and only IMHO) to the inevitable decline of the CofE.

            Do you need to be ordained to visit the sick? Do you need to be ordained to carry out the admin required in a growing church? Do you need to be ordained to serve at the altar? Do you need to be ordained to preach (no, licensed yes, but not ordained). Do you need to be ordained to carry out pretty much all pastoral work in a parish?

            Matthew

          • alternative_perspective

            Given today’s context why are we so hung up on learning greek anyway? Its not as though most sermons spend minutes deliberating the finer points of a word’s meaning any way.
            Surely it would be more useful to be fully equipped in Christian apologetics, evidences for the faith and the drawing together of faith, culture and reason?

          • matthewcashmore

            I’d broadly agree with you – I’m not sure those two things are mutually exclusive though – why not be able to have a basic understanding of NT Greek AND a solid grounding, more even, of apologetics, evidences for the faith and the drawing together of faith, culture and reason – it’s certainly what I’m getting at Cuddesdon.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Would you come visit?

            Happy Jack likes you.

            http://httpwwwmreman.blogspot.co.uk/

      • dannybhoy

        I recognise that problem, but it is very much an Anglican problem caused by the priesthood and laity divide – which isn’t Scriptural anyway!
        This division puts a great deal of stress on clergy who are often overworked, suffer loneliness and sometimes depression. Massaging petulant egos and keep factions or cliques reasonably together takes its toll…
        Meanwhile the laity (in my recent experience) are often underused, undertrained (there’s that bureaucracy again!) or directionless.
        The result being that the emphasis is on non controversial ‘good causes’, church buildings, parish shares etc.
        Almost anything, except building the Church as people and sharing the Good News.
        So let’s abandon this nonsense of separation and recognise that we are called to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation unto God.
        (1Peter 2:9)
        Let’s start using the talents and gifts already available in the congregations by using a more New Testament approach to leadership.

        • Anton

          Couldn’t agree more, Danny.

      • alternative_perspective

        I was recommended by my parish church, spent 4 or 5 miserable years going round in circles with multiple DDOs until finally the last one sent me to see the Bishop.
        Had a lovely chat and he affirmed I had a calling to the ministry. But he wasn’t going to send me to a BAP.
        I asked for feedback – the DDO seemed to have misunderstood my desire for discipline and discipleship as judgementalism (as though I wasn’t a sinner myself).
        My priest went and had words and came back; reading between the lines – yes you have a calling just not in this diocese, the doors are closed here go elsewhere.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        Agree.

  • dannybhoy

    It has been explained to me by one of our clergy that we should be careful of offending congregants by presenting the challenge of the Gospel. We can’t presume to know where a person stands before God; which means that we can talk about aspects of Christianity without talking about what a Christian actually is or how you become a Christian..
    I think, (though I may be wrong) that this is one of the major problems in the CofE. Being a ‘broad church’ is fine. I agree with it in principle, but you really do have to present the Gospel in such a way that the congregation is left in no doubt where they personally stand before God.
    The goal should be to preach the Gospel without ‘freezing out’ those who are undecided, or have questions/problems with the faith. In our situation, people who state quite clearly that they aren’t Christians, perhaps don’t even believe in God(!) are left thinking we’re just a nice bunch of people, and that’s it.

    • Anton

      There must be no compromise of the gospel. If there is a choice between quality and quantity, the Bible is clearly for quality every time.

      Gillan, what a depressing story about the locally funded curate! Any chance of implementing the scheme by some back door?

      “Many believe that the biggest struggle the Church of England currently faces is its attitude towards and dealings with those who are LGBT. This is undoubtedly a great and pressing issue, but I believe that the biggest battle is actually for the CofE’s very existence.”

      These are correlated issues. If you want a thriving church, root out liberal theology. And what does it say about LGBT?

  • Busy Mum

    LGBTQI…if only the CofE just stopped discriminating between the varied specimens of the human race and lumped us all together under S for sinners….that is the only reason for the CofE’s existence in the first place and unless it is prepared to do this, it does not deserve to exist.

    • bmudmai

      The problem is the outside world discriminate and many of them have managed to bring it into the Church. That’s the problem of wolves in sheep skin.

  • CliveM

    Isn’t the problem here that too many people within the CofE, are welded to an old model of Parish system, when sadly it has neither the resources or personnel to support it? And instead of accepting this and supporting those areas where there is evidence of the Holy Spirit working, it lacks the self belief to do so.
    This is about fear and a lack of faith in its mission. So it fails to support growth and continues to invest in failure. I know the Church isn’t a business and shouldn’t be run as one, but if all you can offfer is slow decline, maybe the Spirit is asking something else of you?

    Of course some see this as almost ideological. A form of church socialism. Taking from the rich, successful Churches, to keep the poor, failing ones going.

    It’s like cutting a live branch off a tree, in the hope that the dying one will flourish.

    • SeekTruthFromFacts

      What about the poor successful churches? Witnessing to Bangladeshi Muslims in the East End won’t make a parish rich but it’s cutting-edge mission.

      • CliveM

        They aren’t poor (in the spiritual sense!) or failing. I’m not intending to suggest money is the determinant (many wealthy failing parishes), just that resources are invested wisely and for growth. Not simply to support a failing structure.

        But I take your point I’m going to amend as that wasn’t my meaning.

      • dannybhoy

        It’s all a part of the Church’s mission, and to be encouraged and supported.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    I believe that the biggest battle is actually for the CofE’s very existence

    The Christian population of the UK is predicted to fall to 45 per cent by 2050; in 1950, I expect it would have been over 90 per cent. So, ‘the biggest battle’ is for Christianity’s very existence. Given the projected Christian and Muslim fertility rates for Europe, ‘steady decline toward oblivion’ would appear to be inevitable.

    As far as I know, there is only one party with a policy of securing a Christian future for Britain by paying Muslims to quit the country for good. Before Christians rush to vote BNP, however, I should warn them that the Church of England has declared the party racist and, thus, a Bad Thing. Is the C of E working for God or Allah?

    • Anton

      The problem with the BNP is less in what it says than in what it doesn’t say. I doubt that the sums needed to induce them to permanently leave the UK voluntarily could be raised by tax. Then what?

    • The Explorer

      One of the many problems of Christianity is difference of interpretation. ‘Matthew’ 24:14 says that “the gospel of the Kingdom” will be proclaimed throughout the Earth.” What does it mean?

      Postmillennialism thinks it means that the Gospel will be accepted throughout the Earth. If that’s true, your statistics are a real problem. Amillenialism thinks the Gospel will be preached throughout the Earth, but that does not mean it will be accepted.

      ‘Matthew’ also says that many will fall from their faith, many false prophets will arise, lawlessness will spread, and love will grow cold. That’s bad news for Postmillenilialists, but for Amillenialists, your statistics are right on target: before the end, things will get really bad.

      • TimeForTea

        No word for the premillennialists?

        • The Explorer

          I did think about them, but because there’s historic premillenialism and dispensational premillenialism, I decided to keep things simple.

      • dannybhoy

        Brrrrrrrh!
        It’s getting chilly in here…

        • The Explorer

          I don’t think you’re one of the ones at risk.

      • “Our gospel is a mystery, yes, but it is only a mystery to those who are on the road to perdition; those whose unbelieving minds have been blinded by the god this world worships, so that the glorious gospel of Christ, God’s image, cannot reach them with the rays of its illumination.”
        (2 Corinthians: 4-4)

        The phrase “god of this world” indicates that Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.

        Satan is also called the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. He is the “ruler of this world” in John 12:31. These titles and many more signify Satan’s capabilities.

        God is still sovereign but in His infinite wisdom allows Satan to operate in this world within the boundaries God sets. God has given him domain over unbelievers – and he threatens the Church and those weak in faith. Believers are no longer under the rule of Satan (Colossians 1:13). Unbelievers, on the other hand, are caught “in the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26), lie in the “power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and are in bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2).

        The “battle field” is the world.

        • PaulOfTarsus

          Happy Jack an hour ago

          Why hello Paul …. still on the road, one notes. Jack thought you might call by

          After your recent heterodox ramblings on Crux Jack knows you’d be happier posting on this site as its mainstream Anglican in nature and you could share all your non-Catholic ‘doctrine’ with your true spiritual brothers and sisters. There’s a member of the Protestant Truth Society here who comments regularly, an ex-Catholic Priest, who you have a lot in common with. Unlike you, he’s a bright and articulate poster and Jack respects a lot of his views. And then there’s Carl. An American Calvinist fiercely opposed to Trent and all its works – rather like you. Again, another good commenter, if a little extreme at times. But he’s seen through all your bullshit, so you’ll not get much joy there. And, of course, occasionally, we are joined by Jack’s friend, Avi, a Canadian Jew. Oh, forgot, you called him a “pig” last time you were here.

          Clearly those couple of years in a Catholic seminary, no doubt failing your theology courses and being rebellious, served no productive purpose. Or perhaps you left because you really were not suited to the Catholic priesthood -all the loyalty and obedience would have a trial for a protestant boy at heart. Better to leave and become a nursing assistant and pretend your some sort of expert in the psychiatric field, eh?

          Just for the record, here’s your post. Jack knows you like to dishonestly edit them to save face when you realise how stupid they make you look:

          “What are your psychotic voices telling you now? OH, you’re Happy Jack today – must mean your cat loves you. Don’t let the devil get your ear again – take your meds.”

        • The Explorer

          I agree with all that. That last sentence is a very Amillenialist statement. Here’s the issue though: when does Matthew 24 relate to? Is it describing 1. the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans, 2. our ongoing Christian experience , 3. the end of the world, 4. all of these?

      • PaulOfTarsus
        • The Explorer

          Have I got this right? A message from you. ‘Please visit me. Happy Jack loves you.’ You think you are Happy Jack? Brother, I think you have an identity crisis.

    • sarky

      45% ??? Do you honestly believe that figure. A truer picture of christianity is that between 4-5% are actual bible believing christians.

      • The Explorer

        ‘Christian’ as in ‘box you tick on a census form’. It means, ‘not Hindu’, ‘not Sikh’ or whatever, and includes those who believe in reincarnation, ley lines, crystals, feng shui , UFO’s etc.
        The old are also more likely to identify themselves as Christian than the young; so as everyone moves along the conveyor belt of time Johnny’s statistics will come to pass.

      • Johnny Rottenborough

        @ sarky—See ‘Estimating Religious Composition in 2010’, here.

        • sarky

          But that’s cultural christians, not real christians. The four weddings and a funeral types.

  • “Well, that’s fine if you want a multitude of church attenders who don’t know what they should believe and with no significant grasp of what it means to be a Christian.”

    But what should a *Christian* believe – apart from stating the Nicene Creed? What message is given about the moral issues confronting modern society?

    “Many believe that the biggest struggle the Church of England currently faces is its attitude towards and dealings with those who are LGBT.”

    It’s one that is connected to its position on the nature of relationships between men and women and whether the Gospel revelation and established teaching counts anymore. And its about “attitude” – we should all love and welcome one another and offer help and assistance – but its view(s) on the acceptability of a range of behaviours. Yes, it applies to homosexuality, but also to contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage and serial monogamy and children being born outside of a permanent, life long marriage. The issues cannot be separated and it is hypocritical to focus on one and ignore the others.

    “This is undoubtedly a great and pressing issue, but I believe that the biggest battle is actually for the CofE’s very existence.”

    Hmmm …. how can it “exist” if it doesn’t provide the leadership necessary for addressing the crunch issues of our times and saving souls?

    And in case anyone thinks Jack is having a pop at the Church of England, let him be clear the very same challenges are facing the Catholic Church in the Western world. Increasingly people have added a sixth sola to the existing protestant five – “sola conscientia”/i> – believing whatever they “feel” is okay is acceptable before God.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Hey Jack,

      In my experience, when an individual is born again of the Spirit and of Water and Christ dwells with their hearts, the greatest learning experience has happened and they ‘Know’ what is right before God because of the witness in their heart. They know to share, to give, and to study the word.

      When there are individuals like that in a church with a like minded minister, there will be exponential growth.

      • Jack wouldn’t dispute that when one receives the Holy Spirit into one’s heart then the gifts accompanying this bring oneness with God, through Christ.

        The problem, however, is that so many claiming this “rebirth” through the Holy Spirit believe the One God is telling them so many different things.

        • PaulOfTarsus

          What are your psychotic voices telling you now? OH, you’re Happy Jack today – must mean your cat loves you. Don’t let the devil get your ear again – take your meds.

          • carl jacobs

            You are back? I thought you stomped off in a huff.

          • Wants his fix on abuse. He’s sooo polite on Crux it must be proving a strain.

          • The Explorer

            Wants his fix on abuse? Easy. Get him to fall out with Linus. Or The Inspector.

          • He’s too cowardly. He focuses on Happy Jack as he believes Jack is psychotic. Not very Christian of him. He’s even afraid of Carl, our resident ‘Care Bear’.

          • dannybhoy

            Don’t worry Jack. We’ll keep loving you. No matter how many ‘yous’ there may be.

          • The Explorer

            Nice sentiments, Danny. Congratulations to all seven of you.

          • dannybhoy

            Lol!
            (that was one)
            ROFL!
            (that was another)
            *$@?*/^~
            (he’s a new Christian…)

          • …. but which one?

          • dannybhoy

            Aaah.
            You have a point and I don’t think I have the gift of discernment or testing of the spirits.. so you’ll all have to come in for observation… 😉

          • The Explorer

            Will there be enough space in the waiting room?

          • dannybhoy

            Who said that??!

          • The Explorer

            Just think how we could confuse Linus. He’d be like a dog with six cats to chase. (It’s a bit like that already for him, but those extra sub divisions would really fox him.)

          • dannybhoy

            Bless the fellow..

          • CliveM

            Yes that’s what he needs, a good, stiff “blessing”!

          • CliveM

            Wish he wouldn’t keep speaking on others behalf!!

          • The Explorer

            How many of you think that?

          • CliveM

            Nearly all of me……..

          • …. he asked about “you” and not “me”.

          • CliveM

            ‘You’ is not speaking to ‘me’. Sadly, I will need to speak sternly to him……

          • The Explorer

            What’s ‘Crux’? Sounds fun, how does one access it? Very glad to have discovered Mundabor.

          • Hmmmm …. Crux is a weblog presenting news on Catholic issues. Quite liberal and its lead articles are not too great – bit wholly and liberal in the main. However, there are some good posters there – PoT isn’t one of them. Jack goes there as an antidote to the excesses of Mundabor who’s views on Pope Francis are rather extreme – though they may prove accurate.

            http://www.cruxnow.com/

            The conservative weblog Jack enjoys most is probably ‘Crisis’. Very balanced and considered. Some cracking good and wide ranging articles there too.

            http://www.crisismagazine.com/

          • The Explorer

            Thanks, Jack.

          • If you want to see the outliers of the Christian faith then visit NCR – but do not tally too long as its bad for one’s peace of mind.

            http://ncronline.org/

          • The Explorer

            I’ll pass on that one. I see, by the way, that your friend has just replied. No, cancel that… he’s posted something. Hmm.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            you’d best stay home – Jack has gotten his tail shoved between his legs and sent packing. He’s on the dole you know – diminished mental capacity due to the loud psychotic voices in his head. Sad really. They have him convinced he’s a demi-god know-it-all. Prayers don’t seem to help him and he won’t take his medicine…. off the sanitorium again. His poor family suffers so.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Happy Jack The Explorer • an hour ago

            Hmmmm …. Crux is a weblog presenting news on Catholic issues. Quite liberal and its lead articles are not too great – bit wholly and liberal in the main. However, there are some good posters there – PoT isn’t one of them. Jack goes there as an antidote to the excesses of Mundabor who’s views on Pope Francis are rather extreme – though they may prove accurate.

            http://www.cruxnow.com/

            ha ha ha.

          • carl jacobs

            Resident care bear? OK, that was just gratuitous.

          • Scare Bear, then.

          • CliveM

            Smurf?

          • Granddad Smurf?

            http://ok-video.net/upload/video/thumbs/medium/f/c/f/acf994f9f3d9ae860fa90d07c3896618.jpg

            Ooops, sorry Carl, didn’t see you there.

          • CliveM

            I thought it was Papa Smurf?

          • carl jacobs

            How about Ring Wraith?

          • Those positions are all taken, Carl.

          • carl jacobs

            Ringwraiths are cool. I have always had a natural affunity for them. I might even change my avatar …

          • Carl Nazgûl Jacobs – Master of Terror.

            http://static.quimbys.com/image/ringwraithsathome_lg.jpg

          • carl jacobs

            Anyways. If you don’t like Ringwraith, then Hitokiri Battosai is acceptable.

          • The enlightened Hitokiri Battosai would be most agreeable – the wandering Samurai, seeking atonement for murders he committed as an assassin. An interesting insight.
            .

          • carl jacobs

            Technically Kenshin sought atonement for being Hitokiri Battosai.

          • So do you want to be the unreformed assassin, then?

          • carl jacobs

            It’s Japanese. So it’s complicated.

            Anyways. I bet you rooted for the Rebellion and those sniveling simpish Jedi, didn’t you.

          • Complicated? Atonement for past murders? Finding true love? Seeking peace? What’s complicated?
            Now you want to be Darth Vader?

          • carl jacobs

            Read the series, Jack. It’s a great story. Then you will understand why I said “It’s complicated.” I tried to explain it in 10 words or less and gave up.

            And, no, not Darth Vader. When I was an op in the AOMIN chat room, I would change my nick to Darth Crew whenever I turned on my powers.

            The bad guys are always more interesting, Jack.

          • The ‘bad guys’ – more accurately, the ‘complicated’ bad guys – are more interesting because we see ourselves in them and empathise with their search for redemption and atonement.
            Also, chicks like to watch movies about bad guys who find the love of a good woman and reform.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Interesting picture

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Peter

            She really is a little smasher, you and your wife must be very proud grandparents.

            God bless her and you all, dear friend.

            Old Blowers

          • Archbishop Cranmer, would you mind removing this comment and all other comments pertaining to Jack’s granddaughter?

          • PaulOfTarsus will be bothering you no more.

          • Thank you, that is very much appreciated.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Actually your yellow bellied friend likes to stir the pot. He’s mentally incapacitated – psychotic voices you know – gets manic and appears in various sites. He gets run off with his tail between his legs – sad really. His family doesn’t know what to do with him. One only hopes his granddaughter doesn’t become psychotic as well.

          • CliveM

            Would you piss off. This is a blog with intelligent articles. I am not interested in your views on HJ. They are not relevant. Either comment properly or decist.

          • Either you stop trawling this site with spam links to your fatuous views, or you will be summarily deleted and thereafter blocked. Bless you.

          • dannybhoy

            Sir,
            It is extremely offensive to refer to little children as you have.. It is also extremely un-Christian to slander a fellow Christian in this way, whatever your reasoning. Please stop it.

          • “Actually your yellow bellied friend likes to stir the pot. He’s mentally incapacitated – psychotic voices you know – gets manic and appears in various sites. He gets run off with his tail between his legs – sad really. His family doesn’t know what to do with him. One only hopes his granddaughter doesn’t become psychotic as well.”

            May God forgive you for that comment – and Jack for his response. You have shown yourself to be an evil hearted, lying bastard. And Jack will be posting this comment elsewhere to show others what you are truly like. Now piss off.

          • CliveM

            Particularly like the last sentence!

          • Yes, Jack can’t think how it occurred to him to use such an expression.

          • CliveM

            I wonder ? :0)

          • It’s the Jewish side of you breaking through….

          • Mad Jack

            Be very, very careful when commenting on Happy Jack’s granddaughter, scumbag.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            you are responsible for your actions. you know what you need to do to not have it happen. that you don’t will result in the same.

          • Mad Jack

            Just go away you sick weirdo.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            what you need to do is move on. If you continue to post to me you’ll get all you deserve.
            We’ve seen Happy, Grumpy, Mad – how about Psychotic?
            It’s interesting you call me names yet, I’ve seen the responses you get. You are extremely disliked by many and have been sent off with your tail between your legs on many occasions. That you post STUPID remarks to me means you’re looking for trouble – that is SICK. Move on.
            If your ego is so weak and injured then I will give you permission to have the last post here. But, if you start up again then it’s back to your granddaughter. Your choice. I’ll end it here.

          • Mad Jack

            Crawl back under your rock, you sicko.

          • Dude

            I can’t see what Jack has done to deserve your vicious personal attacks and I don’t think you are up to any good. Can’t you either contribute or just sod off?

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Hey man – cool, far out, what’ happ’n?
            He is a royal PITA. Right now he’s on another sight being an aas.
            Here is a post from one of the commenters
            ******************************************************
            Dennis Grindel • 29 minutes ago

            Please tell me that Happy Jack is not being taken seriously by any reader in this discussion

            *********************************************************
            As you can see it is not only me who is tired of him. There are other posts against him but, if you can’t get the picture from this then you’ll never.
            I asked that he ignore my posts and I will his. He refuses. He makes inane comments meant to provoke. He’s a sick individual. I encourage you and others to have him stay away – at least from me. Otherwise, I will be back.

          • CliveM

            There is a big difference between someone having an opinion you don’t like and indulging in personnel abuse and threats. And your comment with regards his Granddaughter was so extraordinary and pathetic, it is clear that you have no sense of what is right.

            Please do what you promised last time.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            read my reply to the dude.
            Are you all drinking the same water as the psychotic nut cake?

          • CliveM

            You sir are a crushing bore. Tedious, and more then a little bit obsessive.

          • He’s not the full shilling, Clive. Now Jack has deleted his abusive comments directed at his grandchild from his website and turned on moderation, he’s ranting on other weblogs.

          • CliveM

            As I think I have previously said, I suspect extensive experience of mental health professionals,

            And I’m not saying that to abuse him. I genuinely think he has problems. I think it will be best to ignore him going forward.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Here’s a post from one of the exasperated posters who would like to get rid of him as well. This is the level of frustration he causes. He’s mostly ignored which has to be disastrous to his fragile ego. I surmise you share his problem as well.
            *******************************
            AnnabelleH PaulOfTarsus • 3 hours ago

            I’ve flagged a number of his postings, but I think it will take longer for the editor to take drastic measures of cutting him off, as with the last person with some similar-sounding problems…at some point, if he does not settle a bit (not likely), he will go so far over any line that he will be removed.

            *************************

          • Dude

            I disagree with Jack on theology, but you were still out of order here & can’t see the Casus belli. But why the need to descend to personal attacks is beyond me and frankly I rather enjoy Jack’s musings and his banter. On the other hand I recall that YOU were viscous toward Israelis last time you were here. Therefore I have little respect for you or your crazy crap.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            I’m really not interested in your opinion. I’ve heard you story and let’s end it. Just as I ended the Israeli discussion. Most losers don’t respect the winner because they don’t respect themselves. If you were a true Jew you would listen to Bibi and go home. Otherwise, you’re duplicitous.
            As with the Israeli discussion you are painting a black and white scenario – very simplistic. he got what he gave. It happens that some posters who don’t get along stay away from each other. He can’t seem to do that and is run off. I choose to deal with him here. If I’m back it’s because he’s up to his old tricks again.
            If you enjoy him by all means encourage him to stay here.
            As for the Israeli situation – it continues to play itself out. That you think I was vicious is a narrow view and speaks volumes about YOU. Lots of Jews have written much more vicious articles. Where do you think I get my info? And, of course, you pulled the anti-Jewish card when your arguments fell flat. One can’t have an honest discussion when the anti-Jew card is played. Why? Because it means you’ve raised the white flag and surrendered.
            I’m going to end it here with you too. I suggest you and Clive – who upvotes you – to encourage your friend to stay away from me. Otherwise, I will be back.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Here’s another post from someone your friend is ticking off. Seems more and more it’s about him – not the topic.

            *******************

            I’m not surprised by any of this. He has some serious problems just by reading what he writes and the direction he is trying to lead the conversation. If anyone should be running from him, it’s the so-called “orthodox” as well. He does them no good as a spokesperson, but seeing Pan’s response, it’s perhaps a more shared problem than realized.

            ****************************
            He’s already posted to me again so – I’ll be back.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            Here’s another for you:

            Neko Happy Jack • 18 hours ago

            Why don’t you let up, Jack. Or did you want to flog that conspiracy theory one day more.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            and another

            AnnabelleH 4 minutes ago

            I figured he wasn’t/couldn’t work since he’s here all the time. It is sad AND disturbing since I don’t think he realizes how much he reveals as he tries to hide.

          • Vicariously attacking a 6 month old child by leaving abusive comments about her on Jack’s personal website. What a piece of work you are.

          • PaulOfTarsus

            check back often – as often as you keep breaking the rules ;-{)

          • Jack has now had to turn on comment moderation to protect others from reading your nasty and abusive remarks to his granddaughter.

          • Why hello Paul …. still on the road, one notes. Jack thought you might call by

            After your recent heterodox ramblings on Crux Jack knows you’d be happier posting on this site as its mainstream Anglican in nature and you could share all your non-Catholic ‘doctrine’ with your true spiritual brothers and sisters. There’s a member of the Protestant Truth Society here who comments regularly, an ex-Catholic Priest, who you have a lot in common with. Unlike you, he’s a bright and articulate poster and Jack respects a lot of his views. And then there’s Carl. An American Calvinist fiercely opposed to Trent and all its works – rather like you. Again, another good commenter, if a little extreme at times. But he’s seen through all your bullshit, so you’ll not get much joy there. And, of course, occasionally, we are joined by Jack’s friend, Avi, a Canadian Jew. Oh, forgot, you called him a “pig” last time you were here.

            Clearly those couple of years in a Catholic seminary, no doubt failing your theology courses and being rebellious, served no productive purpose. Or perhaps you left because you really were not suited to the Catholic priesthood -all the loyalty and obedience would have a trial for a protestant boy at heart. Better to leave and become a nursing assistant and pretend your some sort of expert in the psychiatric field, eh?

            Just for the record, here’s your post. Jack knows you like to dishonestly edit them to save face when you realise how stupid they make you look:

            “What are your psychotic voices telling you now? OH, you’re Happy Jack today – must mean your cat loves you. Don’t let the devil get your ear again – take your meds.”

        • dannybhoy

          Lol!
          Not strictly true though Jack.
          I think it’s more like the struggle between the old nature and the new nature. Some are more drawn to touchy feely, subjective experiential stuff, some to the study and teaching of the word, and some to evangelism. The confusion doesn’t bother me. The Holy Spirit works through Christians open and obedient to His leading. The more traditional or senior churches, i.e. the Catholics and the CofE have pretty much categorised all these impulses over the centuries, but rather like pinned and categorised butterflies they don’t seem to move much anymore…

          • Come now – you know some Christians accept all sorts of ideas and conduct explicitly and implicitly condemned in the Bible. And, to be frank (arrrggghhh, not Frank, noooo) there have been an awful lot of nutters in the history of the Church claiming inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes of course that’s true Jack. There are people who have charismatic personalities who seem to do well in charismatic churches too. There are controlling people too aren’t there, people who like everything neat and orderly and under control… 🙂
            As long as the church leadership is functioning in the New Testament pattern described mainly by Paul, heresies, subversives and fruitcakes can be dealt with.

    • dannybhoy

      Jack, the Church – the Bride of Christ – is made up of believers from all the denominations. None of us need delude ourselves we are fully paid up members of the only denomination that’s got it all sussed.
      So I don’t mind at all that you comment on the CofE and I agree with most of what you are saying.
      As a nonconformist couple we believe the Cof E has it wrong because it’s trying to do two irreconcilable things. Namely stand for our Lord and His Gospel and fit in with society and our offices of State.
      It would be better if we make a complete break between Church and State. That would really help make things clearer. The danger of doing that now (as I see it) is that it would create a moral and spiritual vacuum, which might be filled by an aggressive Islam..

  • Shadrach Fire

    Gillan, It is sad to see the rantings of a man who wants more cash but does not want your church to spend it how it sees fit. He needs to recognise that we give our tithes and offerings unto God and are then meant to take our hands off and let God spend it whatever way he sees fit.
    There is nothing like success to breed success and if the church is stifled it can not grow. Your church certainly seems to be in need of extra help. I am sure you have some very clever people there but it seems that if you separate your tithes and your offerings you should be able to pay a freelance minister as a consultant rather than a CofE employee. Whatever, the CofE needs to get it’s act together and support successful ministers and sack those who fail to minister truth and bring souls into the kingdom.

    • magnolia

      The “Sheffield allocation” and its interpretation is the problem, sometimes. I am uncertain how this works, but it does not seem to help churches that wish to grow in the South of the country. If you are in the North it may work better, but I don’t know….

  • Shadrach Fire

    Is it that the Diocese gets the surplus cash from the church and therefore does not want to see this income reduced by an additional employee?

    • PaulOfTarsus

      Happy Jack The Explorer • an hour ago
      He’s too cowardly. He focuses on Happy Jack as he believes Jack is psychotic. Not very Christian of him. He’s even afraid of Carl, our resident ‘Care Bear’.

  • carl jacobs

    Fulcrum, which seeks to represent the centre ground of Evangelical Anglicanism,

    Fulcrum does not represent the center of Evangelical Anglicanism. It is a collaborationist organization that attempts to bridge the difference between Christianity and non-Christian counterfeits. If you may judge the organization by its website, then Fulcrum is virtually non-existent and has been for quite some time.

    • magnolia

      I am a bit puzzled as to how you came to the conclusion of demise from the website as I looked them up and they seemed alive and kicking, with four papers written in April and a conference, and a full leadership team.

      Did I miss something?

      It seems to me they are attempting to be “in the world but not of it”. Always a tricky balancing act, and surely few get it even tolerably right?

      • carl jacobs

        I am comparing Fulcrum to its existence in (say) 2009. I used to comment there frequently as did many other people. I still check in every so often to see what’s going on. If you observe it today, you will discover that it doesnt make many new posts and it gets essentially zero interaction with those posts. I have on occasion actually gooiled “Is Fulcrum dead” because I wondered if the website had gone inactive.

        • dannybhoy

          You won’t get any response if you goolie..

      • dannybhoy

        I looked ’em up too. Seems good..

        • carl jacobs

          Without the historical data derived from having observed Fulcrum over the better part of a decade, you would have no idea how moribund that website has become. You can’t just go to the website and look.

          • dannybhoy

            I just did.
            In fact I ‘collect’ helpful Christian websites on my ‘puter and on any issue of theology, practice or mission I weigh one up against the others, and every now and then I have a cull, as some turn out to be really helpful and some not so.
            But yes, you do make a valid point.

    • Oh, we’re here alright Carl. And, just like the Church of England, we don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. Blessings.

      • carl jacobs

        I just calls ’em like I sees ’em.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Aw, you should be flattered. They created a disqus profile just to reply to you. Apparently you’re not the only one googling the question of whether Fulcrum is dead 😉

          • carl jacobs

            Ya know, Grutch. My immediate reaction was “You actually took the trouble to respond to me? That speaks volumes.” If the opposite conclusion was obvious, they wouldn’t have rushed in to deny it.

            Dare I quote it?

            I’m not dead yet. I’m feeling better. I think I’ll go for a walk. I don’t want to go in the cart.

      • Phil R

        “Popular People’s Front of Judea” it seems

  • Andrew Price

    Radical idea. Go independent.

  • magnolia

    I could not agree more.

    “Managed decline” breaks the hearts of many, including me. It also saps the will, and leads to, as well as emanating from, a defeatism that is inimical to the spirit of Christ.

    In one diocese, clergy were once heard complaining that the “pep talk” at the end of their clergy conference exhorted them to go “failing onwards”. I wish I could say it had been April Fool’s Day, or they had misheard “failing” for “sailing”, but no….

    This is the spirit that cannot wait to turn the local church into a bistro, or a pub, or a newsagent, post office, tea shop, indeed anything that draws the punters in, rather than a place predominantly of worship, healing, contemplation and prayer. As if the last four were not an innate human need, which if not provided for in wholesome ways, will have people going off to seances, crystals, “readings”and that sort of thing. Which does happen.

    • dannybhoy

      What do you think of ‘Fresh Expressions’ then Magnolia? We are exploring this avenue with our clergy. We work within the Anglican framework, and basically we’re quite happy to see people coming to faith through the CofE, as long as people are coming to faith..

      • magnolia

        Sounds wise to me. Fresh expressions is aimed at spirituality, not at bringing in cash at all costs to keep the building up!

        . Coffee before during and after the service sounds good to me. Even by intravenous drip for those who can’t swallow! I think cafe church and messy church are great, and wouldn’t mind gluing things myself, but haven’t made it to the glue pots yet…

        I also think daily prayer meetings for specific themes could go very far, but we have not got those running. Themes like forgiveness, healing, unborn children, war, alcohol, drugs,and so on. If anyone knows how to do that well, please tell, and I’ll pass it on.

        • dannybhoy

          These are the kind of things we are looking at too, although there are only a few of us who want to try a new approach. Fortunately that includes our vicar and curate.We do believee that the Lord is beginning to move, and as long as we concentrate on our walk with the Lord and prayer and fellowship, the Holy Spirit will lead us.
          I think your last point is an excellent one. When I was in YWAM we would work with any church that wanted to grow, and because we were young we could draw in the young people, then work with the church in helping establish them. We don’t need to re-invent the evangelical wheel if there are already people out there with experience of working with a particular group, let’s try and use them…

    • PaulOfTarsus

      Happy Jack The Explorer • an hour ago

      Hmmmm …. Crux is a weblog presenting news on Catholic issues. Quite liberal and its lead articles are not too great – bit wholly and liberal in the main. However, there are some good posters there – PoT isn’t one of them. Jack goes there as an antidote to the excesses of Mundabor who’s views on Pope Francis are rather extreme – though they may prove accurate.

      http://www.cruxnow.com/

      He’s hated at this site and regularly gets run off. His cut & paste replies show he has no brain – the many voices clog it up he says – poor man’s on the dole due to his diminished mental capacity – so he’s really rather like a loose canon.

      • magnolia

        That is off topic, doesn’t give light relief or illuminate us, and, worse, it is ad hominem to boot.

      • Third warning

  • Uncle Brian

    Planned terrorist attacks on Catholic churches in France:

    http://news.yahoo.com/france-arrests-man-planning-attack-one-two-churches-082112383.html

    “Managed decline” sounds bad enough, but getting murdered is worse.

  • Times are very hard for the churches of Christ right now, but no harder than they were 300 years ago.
    To those in the Church of England, I can only say, get out. Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and leave. God promises His blessing if you do. If you must, sign up under an orthodox Bishop from Africa or somewhere, but better by far to become a Free Church and join up with the FIEC.

    • PaulOfTarsus

      Please visit Happy Jack.

      He loves you.

      http://httpwwwmreman.blogspot.co.uk/

      • Fourth warning

      • Inspector General

        Who the hell are you, and what are you about…

        • The Explorer

          There you are, HJ. I said he and the Inspector wouldn’t get on.

        • carl jacobs

          You have to love the Inspector and his traditional British understatement.

    • Linus

      And then vote Ukip and hope they win so your African bishop will be denied an entry visa into the UK when he wants to come for a pastoral visit.

      A cunning plan. Effective independence for you whilst maintaining the fiction of episcopal oversight. Doomed to failure though, because Ukip won’t win and your African bishop will be free to come and check up on you as much as he likes.

      Hope you’ve brushed up your Indaba protocol and you might want to make sure you have a few self-loathing gays on hand (the whack-jobs over on Living Out will be only too happy to help, I’m sure) to stand up and be castigated and have the demons driven out of them. A fun time for all the family, and one in the eye for Lambeth Palace. What more could an extreme right wing Anglican want?

      • The Explorer

        Ah, Linus.
        Glad you’ve turned up. Do have a look at Uncle Brian’s link, there’s a good chap. Pertinent to what you were saying a couple of threads go.

        • Linus

          A couple of isolated incidents only add up to an orchestrated campaign of violence in your head, poor persecuted one. Aïe ! They could at least have planed down the stake they’ve chained you to and taken off the splinters…

          • The Explorer

            One swallow does not make a summer. But swallows, or summers, have to start somewhere. And once there are enough swallows: Bingo!

            ‘The Woman in Gold’ is currently in British cinemas. For other readers who don’t know of it, it’s about the attempt of the Jewish woman, Maria Altmann, to recover a family painting stolen by the Nazis.

            When she was a child, her family lived in Vienna with her uncle and aunt. Her uncle said it was time to leave. Her father said it was safe to stay. Guess which one of the brothers survived, and which one didn’t? Guess which of the brothers is like the Explorer? And which one is like Linus?

      • Phil R

        Why the unrelenting attacks on the Orthodox I wonder?

        Because they are successful?

        You see Linus.

        People have no time to waste attending liberal churches.

        What would be the point of attending a church like this?

        • Linus

          Success is a relative term. Orthodox Christianity is hardly sweeping the country, is it? It may be holding its own in terms of numbers compared to liberal churches, but that doesn’t translate into a vast popular movement.

          The difference between Orthodox and Liberal Christians has less to do with dogma than it does with basic personality traits. Orthodoxy appeals to the stubborn, dogged contrarian in search of anything he can wear as a badge of difference. That’s why the “counter cultural” message is so important to the Church. It’s a banner under which all the marginal misfits can gather.

          Problem is there just aren’t that many of you. You’re quite a solid group by virtue of the stubbornness that characterises your personalities, but you’ll never rule the world because you don’t want to. Your preferred role is to camp on the edges of society braying about how persecuted and misunderstood you are. Martyrdom is your default setting and in order to be martyrs, you have to remain a minority.

          • Phil R

            Ten years ago this was a dead church ready for closure.

            It is now one of the most successful Anglican Churches in the UK.

            https://www.church.org.uk/

            Liberal Anglicans hate it. The local Bishop will not even support the relatively large number of young people who wish to train for ordination (they have to use a different route)

            Relatively small numbers in the UK agreed (Although the Jesmond group before expansion three years ago, was over 1000)

            In a town one of my daughters lives in the orthodox Anglican Church has more worshipers on a Sunday (500+) by a wide margin than all of the other 7 liberal and Anglo Catholic Anglican Churches put together.

            Worldwide, the Anglican Church by numbers (and all churches) liberals make up only a tiny percentage of the total regular worshiping membership of around 85 million

            Orthodoxy it seems, is successful.

          • Linus

            Again, success is a relative term.

            I agree that orthodox churches seem to be experiencing growth at the moment. But there are several reasons for that, none of which translate into a sudden boom in Christianity.

            The main driver behind orthodox growth is international transfer fueled by high immigration levels coming from countries where Christianity is actively practiced. If you get your wish and Immigration grinds to a halt, so does growth in the Church. If immigrants are forced to leave, church attendance will drop of a cliff. And it will all be your fault. Talking about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

            The Catholic Church is the main beneficiary of immigrant growth because of its dominant position in Eastern Europe. But the Anglican Church is strong in Africa and the Caribbean, so immigration from that part of the world strengthens Anglican numbers too.

            But not every church is full of immigrants. There’s also a phenomenon of internal transfer taking place. As many churches liberalize, their conservative members are looking for more orthodox options. Given that Christianity draws many of its members from the most reactionary layers of Western society, it stands to reason that a large proportion of the congregations in liberal churches will be dissatisfied with the direction things are taking. They’re not numerous enough to drag the entire Church back to orthodoxy, but they can band together and form majorities in specific congregations, which it would seem has happened in your church.

            Trying to present that as some kind of Christian revival is at best ignorant, at worst downright deceitful. It’s nothing more than a strategic regrouping of forces that, if they weren’t being replenished from abroad by high levels of immigration, would continue to decline, albeit probably at a slower rate than the liberal Church because of the stubborn personality types associated with conservative forms of worship.

            As somone else said elsewhere on this site, one swallow does not make a spring. And one thriving conservative church where once there were once many does not indicate a revival, but rather a strategic withdrawal and regrouping of a dimished force.

            Ever watched that US TV series “The Walking Dead”? Its plot must seem very familiar to you. A brave band of “survivors” looking for a safe haven in a hostile world … seeing themselves as heroes struggling against impossible odds … banding together behind protective walls as a base from which to reconquer the world. But in-fighting and disagreement keep reducing their numbers and rendering any form of victory increasingly unlikely.

            Fortress mentality are always undermined from within. Liberal churches didn’t start out liberal. Liberal ideas grew within conservative congregations. And the same will happen in your thriving church, which one day will know its own liberal/conservative divide. More schism will follow and the rump of ultra-orthodox believers will get smaller and smaller, and finally be taken over completely by immigrants and lose its character as an English church.

            That’s the glorious future of “Christ’s Church” in the UK. Liberal Christianity is just the first step along a path that leads towards reason, which is where all Western cultures are heading. The trajectory is unarguable and the rest of the world will eventually follow. And your “Walking Dead” Christian outposts will fall, one by one,

          • alternative_perspective

            who said liberality = reason? Seems to be a bit of a sweeping statement.

          • Linus

            Liberal Christianity isn’t reason, but it is the first step on the road thereto. For a Christian, of course. Liberal Islam and liberal Judaism fulfill similar roles in those religions.

            Often individuals are able to make the leap from orthodox forms of their religion to the liberal variety and then get stuck there. It’s up to the next generation to go further.

            You get the odd contrary individual who goes the other way, but in general traffic is one way only.

            If you require proof, look at the world around you. The overwhelming majority of us had believing parents, but we either do not believe, or believe in such a watered down fashion that we might as well not believe at all.

            Who had unbelieving parents and now adheres to a strict form of Christianity? Aside from the few who congregate here, where are they?Rebellion against parental expectations and values can take many forms and the contrarian … sorry, “counter cultural” personalities that inhabit this site couldn’t have found a better place from which to give free rein to all the stubbornness, intractability and general desire to say “black” when everyone else says “white” that mark their characters.

            So yes, the first stop on the line to Reason is Liberalism. The train is now departing from London St. Pancras. All aboard!

          • magnolia

            Your nomenclature is confusing. I thought you meant the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches were coming under particular attack, which is a possible scenario. Maybe a distinction between a small o “orthodox” and a capital o “Orthodox” might help.

          • Phil R

            Yest thanks for that.

            I mean orthodoxy you have worked it to be, the Bible as the word of God, traditional values etc but not implying a particular worship style.

            Conservative Evangelical is actually the section that is growing, but the name is tarnished in the minds of British Christians with American TV evangelism and a particular political worldview as being scriptural, when it clearly isn’t.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Don’t join FIEC, join EFCC…

  • Inspector General

    Broadbent? Mentioned here, on Cranmer’s site, with reverence? “Pete” is it?

    Thou low and foolish fellow giving house room to that renegade….

    As for LGBT, you should take the Inspector’s Challenge. That’s you Scott and any bishop falling over themselves in admiration of the condition. The Challenge is to follow ‘Pink News’ for 3 weeks and read EVERY article, and EVERY single comment. Yes, you’ll be sick to your stomach on some of it, and merely appalled at other. But you MUST persevere, and see the condition for what it is. In all its disordered truth.

    And remember this, the driving force of LGBT is its militant activists. And just look at what they’ve achieved and are achieving. They are feted and praised for what they are. There they be, these militants, on that site, in all their foulness. Meet them there, communicate with them, you can.

    If you want the likes of Peter Tatchell addressing the faithful from the altar, you’ll get that. Let them in, and you’ll NEVER be rid of them. Do you hear that, NEVER!!

    • Inspector General

      The idea of LGBT enthusiasts preaching from the pulpit is not as bizarre as you might think. In an increasingly pagan country, there will be a definite need for a new priestly caste to fill the void left by a disappearing Christianity. And the religion? Why, pure unadulterated self-indulgency, of course, at the cost of everything else. Worship of the self, and anything goes to fulfil the inner selfish need – even the renting of wombs or sperm to create the ultimate accessory, a human child.

      The LGBT militant, enthusiast, follower, admirer, apologist, call him or her what you will, is so well placed to be our next priest, that it would seem that Satan himself had planned it from the very depths of Hell…

      follower, admirer, apologist. All enemies of the church. No getting away from it. Those of you who fall into any of those categories are false shepherds and you will eventually bring Christ’s mission down, as sure as night follows day. And you will answer for it at divine judgement!

      • Linus

        Oh dear, poor Inspector. He’s finally cottoned on to our evil plot for world domination, only he’s too late to do anything about it. Our plans are too far advanced and the alien pod people have very obligingly already provided us with remote controlled clones of every world leader that counts, so there’s nothing he can do except be horrified.

        Mouah hah hah! The world is ours! And we’re bringing in new measures especially to deal with mad old duffers like the Inspector. At this moment his clone is growing in our secret Gay World Domination headquarters (in San Francisco, of course – where else?) and we’re just waiting for Dame Edna’s couturier to supply the ostrich feather ensemble we’re planning to dress him in before we effect the exchange and a new Inspector is born. A fervent supporter of LGBT rights and Pink News!’s favourite agony aunt.

        Quite what we’ll do with the old carcass, I’m not quite sure. Far too drenched in camphor and pipe tobacco to be any use as compost. Perhaps we can use it to plug a few breaches in the Fukushima reactors…

        • Inspector General

          Look Cluelus, no time for you tonight. Not in the mood, you see. Best fall at someone else’s feet and play the victim…

          • Hi inspector

            I thought you’d be celebrating George’s day (and it’s Israeli independence day) today ?

          • Inspector General

            Greetings Hannah. It should be a bank holiday today and the Scots made to celebrate it too…

          • Hi inspector

            LOL, not sure Clive m would agree with that …

          • CliveM

            As long as it involved the inspector getting the drink he owes, I don’t mind!!

            Fat chance, he’s tighter then a Scotsmans Jockstrap!

          • sarky

            I heard that if you stick a bit of coal up his bum it will become a diamond in seconds!

          • CliveM

            LOL!

          • Inspector General

            Your name goes in the book (again)…

          • sarky

            Must have my own chapter by now! !

          • The Explorer

            The question is whether your name is written in the Book of Life.

          • sarky

            I doubt it.

          • Pubcrawler

            He’ll tell you that, but who wants to check?

          • Linus? Or, failing that, the Inspector has one or two fans in tow from his sojourn on PN who, one is sure, would happily oblige.

          • Pubcrawler

            Linus, hmm, name rings a bell. Wasn’t he Peter’s successor in Rome?

          • Indeed – Pope Linus. However, Jack had another person in mind.

          • Pubcrawler

            Ah yes, the cartoon character. Fancied himself as a philosopher, if I remember rightly.

          • Hmmmm …. now you’re thinking of Linus van Pelt.

          • Pubcrawler

            Yes, of course I am…

          • Jack was referring to Linus le Impaire.

          • Pubcrawler

            Used to play for Chelsea?

          • Please do not mention that team ….

          • dannybhoy

            Well done Pubcrawler..

          • Linus

            Linus le what?

            If you’re going to persist in trying to write in French, it might be an idea to provide an English translation so I can figure out what you mean.

            At the moment the only meaning your grammatically incorrect epithet conveys is that I am not divisible by two. This is hardly surprising considering there is only one of me. Oh, and btw, impair does not share the secondary meaning of odd in English. Call a Frenchman impair and he’ll think you’ve escaped from a mental institution. Which of course you probably have. Or perhaps are planning to…

            I know, maybe you meant impie, as in impious. Fair enough if so.
            But hardly worth a chuckle.

          • So, if one wanted to name you: “Linus the Odd” what would this be in French?
            Your assistance is welcomed.

          • Linus

            So now you want me to tell you how to insult me correctly for fear of looking ignorant, eh?

            Take a hike, old homophobe. It takes a particularly depraved (and incredibly stupid) kind of bully to think that his victim will volunteer any information that can be used against him.

            Figure it out for yourself. The fact that you can’t and have made the sort of translation error that lazy 10 year olds would be ashamed of indicates exactly what sort of mentality drives you.

          • Linus l’artificiel …

          • Linus

            Jack le Ténébreux.
            Jack le Simple.
            Jack le Fou.
            Jack l’Eventreur.
            Jack l’Inculte.

            They’re all accurate enough descriptions of the malignant bully we know here as Sad Jack. But the raw and guttural English describes him so much better than anything we can come up with in French. Our language just doesn’t have words for that degree of depravity.

          • Dude,

            I see you are also a fan of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off “…..

          • sarky

            A modern day classic, second only to ‘weird science’ !

          • Pubcrawler

            Let’s hear it for the roast beef of old England

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Roast_Beef_of_Old_England

          • dannybhoy

            Yom Ha’atzmaut Hannahle. I hope you’ll all be celebrating?
            You know there used to be a big celebration ‘do’ down in London, but you never hear about it now. I was once accosted by the Mitzvah Tank Boys…
            Can you imagine?

          • LOL, a bit of Jewish outreach there. Perhaps pertinent for this post, like a Jesus tank or something? But yes we are celebrating, by having a Jewish /dish. A bit obscure. It’s called fish and chips…

          • The Explorer

            Happy Independence Day, Hannah.

          • Hi explorer

            Thanks

        • sarky

          All this talk of world domination and not a pussy in sight (ahem)

          • Dude

            I got to admit as an outsider, I find the discussions on the church’s missionary position quite intriguing…

          • Linus

            Wait till you hear about the all-over full body shroud with a small hole cut in it that all good Christian women don before submitting to the attentions of their pious lords and masters.

            I’m told the Muslim burqa was based on this garment, although Mohammed’s followers added an eye slit so their women could at least see what was coming and prepare themselves.

            I’m also told that really good Christians make sure their Lust Prevention Shrouds are made out of the same scratchy thread they use to weave hair shirts. And to avoid the problem of fraying and provide suitable mortification of the flesh for Christian husbands whose tumescence merits immediate chastisement, a metal ring with inward pointing spikes is sewn into the hole…

          • The Explorer

            We’ll sort you yet Linus, dear old chap.
            We’ll have you with a pipe and slippers, damning foreigners and eating Christmas pud.

          • Linus

            Oh do be realistic! You’re asking a gay Frenchman to restrict pipes and pud eating to the Christmas holidays?

          • The Explorer

            You’ll think differently once you’ve become Inspector II

          • I had no idea…….

          • The Explorer

            There might be a case for asking Linus to divulge his sources. The origin of the cilice is obscure, but has been traced to pre-Christian Turkey. The cilice exists within Catholic tradition but is not a Protestant practice.

            If you want weird sexual practices, then KInsey (he of ‘Sexual Behavior in the Human Male’) would masturbate with a toothbrush up his rectum and wire round his testicles. Havelock Ellis had to be urinated on by his wife to get an erection. Neither Kinsey not Ellis was a Christian. The Marquis de Sade was French. Enough said.

          • Dude

            I’ve just realised what a sheltered life I’ve really led….

          • CliveM

            You’re not the only one.

            I don’t feel I learnt anything helpful either!!

          • magnolia

            One hopes he used a different toothbrush on his teeth!

            When they get that nutty though….

          • The Explorer

            There was some kinky stuff as well, but I haven’t gone into details or I’d get thrown off the blog. But, as you’ll have gathered, I’m not one of Kinsey’s admirers.

          • CliveM

            He wasn’t simply nutty……..

            His research was also a bit ‘unreliable’ from what I’ve read.

          • magnolia

            I have read that his sample was largely sex workers. They were not quite as rigorous as now on balancing the old research sample!!

            What is a bit tragic is that it has filtered down to all sorts who now think that they need to behave like the research sample.

          • CliveM

            He was a pervert who wanted to convince us that being a pervert was normal.

            In many ways he succeeded.

          • The Explorer

            Keep it that way.

          • Dude

            Okay I’ve been working hard building a love swing and walk in shower for after I’m married. But if I may ask, where so you get all this info? I had to go for some spiritual guidance and a dip in the mikvah after this post.

          • The Explorer

            Sorry about that, Sam. Blame it on Linus; he started it. Kinsey was a world expert on the gall wasp. When you’re a pervert, though, the sex life of wasps ain’t that interesting. Humans, though, that’s another matter. Especially their interactions with other species. Where did I get it all? James Jones’ biography. I don’t recommend it. Great book, but terrible subject matter.

            When I was at university, somebody lent me ‘The Marquis de Sade Reader’. I think that’s what it was called. De Sade was one of the few people who could make Kinsey seem like Mr Nice Guy. The most horrible thing I’ve ever read. I gave it back in a hurry. Wish I’d never encountered it: I’m cursed with a retentive memory.

          • Dude

            It was clearly a burden for you to take. I couldn’t.

          • Linus

            Which end of the toothbrush? If the bristled end, perhaps he was trying to profit from the involuntary muscle spasms that accompany orgasm in order to reach that annoying spot on the back of the wisdom teeth that no amount of manœuvering the brush in from the front ever seems to reach. Dental floss was unknown in Kinsey’s day. Perhaps this was his only shot at proper dental hygiene.

            Of course you Christians will want to believe he did it purely for pleasure because pleasure is bad, isn’t it? But Kinsey was a scientist, so there must have been some kind of scientific reason behind what appears on the face of it to be slightly odd behaviour.

            Either that or it’s just an urban legend.

          • The Explorer

            Bristle end, I imagine. It was certainly bristle end up his urethra. I may be wrong about the wire; it may just have been rope. Can’t remember. Anyway, not legend; he really did perve his way through life. James Jones: ‘Alfred C Kinsey: A Public/Private Life’. It’s all in there.

            Toothbrushes; well, whatever turns you on; although I wouldn’t have wanted Kinsey advertising my product if I’d been a toothbrush manufacturer. The controversial bit is the orgasm statistics of babies. Nowadays, research like that would get you locked up.

          • Linus

            Ethics committees were perhaps not quite what they should have been in those days.

            The amoral scientist whose ability to ask himself the question “should I?” is hampered by myopia and a drive to achieve still exists of course. Universities are full of them. But in these litigious days we live in, their ability to act is constrained by the institutions that employ them and have to fork out when they get it wrong.

            Kinsey probably wouldn’t be able to get funding for the more dubious aspects of his work today. So Christians wouldn’t have to resort to digging up louche anecdotes in an effort to blacken his character.

            If your imaginary god really does exist, I hope for your sake that your sources are reliable or he’ll have you up on a charge of bearing false witness faster than you can say “sharp-tongued old gossip”…

          • The Explorer

            Modern libertinism takes a remarkably strong tone on paedophilia. I suppose because it permits virtually everything else, it feels it has to draw the line somewhere.
            Sexual research on 182 children. James Jones. Check it for yourself. I’m assuming Jones to be reliable; otherwise, the Kinsey Foundation would have sued him.
            Whatever our faults, and mine are many, I suspect that God will deal more sternly with Kinsey than with Jones or me.

          • Linus

            Secular society takes a strong stance against pædophilia because the damage inflicted on children by it is clear to see.

            As many people now order their lives around the needs and wants of their children, harming a child has become the cardinal sin. Paedophiles are therefore reviled as heretics would have been a few centuries ago, or still are in some societies.

            Whether Kinsey was a paedophile or just an obsessed scientist ready to sacrifice anything and anyone to his research, I have no idea. Perhaps he’s guilty of the charges you lay at his door. Perhaps not. It isn’t my place to judge him, but if you feel it’s yours then don’t let me stop you. You won’t be the first Christian who doesn’t practice what he preaches. I’m so used to it by now, it doesn’t even surprise me.

            And while you’re busy reviling Kinsey and other secular people you accuse of heinous crimes, do all the Christian perpetrators of similar offences get a free pass? Do their sins not merit public denunciation, or do you just prefer to keep quiet about them because they don’t reflect well on your faith?

          • The Explorer

            I’d say Kinsey and de Sade shared the same philosophy: whatever is, is right. (Christianity, by contrast, would say that some of the things that people do are wrong.) Thus Kinsey sought to normalise whatever human sexual practices exist, including paedophilia. As far as I know, he himself was not a practising paedophile; he would simply give encouragement to those who were by asking them to talk about their experiences in a positive way. KInsey’s own kinky stuff was with adults, rather than kids or animals.
            You were telling Sam about kinky practices of Christians. I was telling Sam about kinky practices of atheists. A plague on both houses. Kinsey isn’t a topic I have any pleasure in talking about. Finis.

          • Linus

            The difference between what I said to Sam about dubious Christian sexual practices and what you said to Sam about dubious Atheist sexual practices is that I was clearly joking, and I also kept my remarks general and didn’t implicate any particular individuals.

            You on the other hand specifically targeted a known individual and repeated accusations leveled at him by others that may or may not be true. In the absence of formal proof – and a hatchet job of a biography is formal proof of nothing – you’re treading on extremely thin ice vis à vis your own oft-stated Christian morality.

            Christians are not supposed to 1) judge others, as you believe that judgment belongs to God, and 2) bear false witness, which repeating unproven accusations basically amounts to, or at least might amount to. Apparently the Western tradition of innocence presumed until guilt proven is not something you adhere to.

            Of course in true Explorer fashion you will reject these accusations and find excuses and justifications for your failure to adhere to your own principles when they don’t suit you. This is something I’ve come to expect from your posts. It certainly confirms my suspicions that your Christian convictions are remarkably flexible, but always self-serving.

            “Do as I say, not as I do” is the grand Christian refrain that echoes across history and more than amply explains the hole your religion has dug for itself in the modern world. In the space of just a couple of generations, a once dominant faith has managed to reduce itself to the status of a risible joke, largely because of the hypocrisy, insincerity and inconsistency of its followers. This is truly effective evangelism, just not for the faith you want to promote.

            Come to a Christian blog and read the comments section if you want to understand the reasons why you should reject Christianity. It’s all here.

          • The Explorer

            Yawn. I gave a source, which is more than you did. You took refuge in generalisations that don’t apply, for a start, to Protestants.
            We are told to shun evildoers. If I’d been judging Kinsey, I’d be telling God what his punishment ought to be.

        • The Explorer

          Are the Lizards okay about all this?

          • Linus

            D’uh, of course! The lizard people live inside the clone bodies grown by the pod people and are remote controlled by their hive mind.

            They’re coming for you, Inspector. And because of your intractable homophobia, your punishment will be exemplary. Think Dame Edna with even more sequins and sparkle. We may even find a husband for you. Your fate is sealed!

          • The Explorer

            Thank you for clarifying that.

          • Inspector General

            Thought one would start calling you Cluelus. Was a toss up between that and L’anus. Both have merit in their suitability for you, don’t you think?

          • The Explorer

            It’s been a close-run thing, the closest-run thing you ever saw in your life since Waterloo, but I’ve managed to reverse the process. The pod people are coming for you, Linus. They’re going to turn you into another Inspector.

          • Linus

            No, no, no, mon pauvre! You really don’t understand the rules of the game, do you?

            The pod people are on the side of reason and logic. They’re aliens, silly! Or as the likes of the Inspector probably views them, demons from hell pretending to be aliens. Either way, they’re against Christianity and for Atheism. So no chance of them attacking me.

            In any case, I’m pretty much inviolable. My pod clone is inhabited by a high ranking Lizard prince, and I can remote control whomever I like, so nobody can move against me! I run the Lizard verson of MI5 and my participation on this site is all part of a cunning plan to undermine Christianity via Internet propaganda. And it seems to be coming along quite nicely…

            All hail her Scabulous Majesty The Empress Lillibête Mountbatten, our Lizard Queen! We shall prevail! Earthlings are the best dish in the galaxy…croak!

          • The Explorer

            You do know MI5 can be infiltrated, don’t you? Can’t go into details; don’t want to blow any identities. There you are, Happy Jack, you’re safe.

          • Linus

            Infiltrators, schminfiltrators! They’re all known to us and their activities are monitored closely.

            We lead Sad Jack by the nose, making him believe he’s getting somewhere when really he’s just turning in ever decreasing circles.

            Admittedly the pod people tell us they’ve had trouble cloning him – something about an atypical chromosomal structure, I believe. It’s not XY or even XX, but rather XTC, which apparently occurs only a few times per billion live births, and usually manifests itself in the form of chronic sociopathy characterized by a rigid and ingrained religious mania of Knoxian or Loyolesque proportions.

            As the structure is so unstable, the pod geneticists are having trouble extruding clones that don’t suddenly implode and disappear up their own self-righteous rear ends with a clap of thunder and a puff of Mephitic smoke. So we’re keeping Sad Jack in a holding pattern until they can overcome the problem, at which point we have a particularly à propos fate lined up for him.

            As the dour and humourless Kiwi bridesmaid Madge is to the outgoing and voluble Dame Edna, so Sad Jack will be to the Inspector. Pink News’s new agony aunt will be needing an assistant, sidekick and general dogsbody, and Sad Jack will fill the role admirably.

            What a pair! The gay community will be well served and with their usual skill, the pod people will of course ensure that their original consciousness remains awake but imprisoned in their new clone bodies. So they’ll experience every part of the gay lifestyle from within.

            What torture for them! Having to suffer the agonies of a two-hour daily skin care regimen, frequent back waxing, a healthy diet full of grains and pulses and vitamins and thrice-weekly workouts at the gym. They’ll be gibbering inside their clone prisons by the end of the first week!

          • The Explorer

            I once visited Coughton Court, associated with the Gunpowder Plot. They showed us the priest hole. The clever bit was the REAL priest hole hidden beneath the priest hole.
            So, yes, you know about the first layer of infiltrators. That’s why I could afford to give you Jack’s name. But then there are the ones you DON’T know about… And this time I’m not giving any clues…

          • Linus

            And I won’t let you know that I know and need no clues, because the Lizard Queen sees all and your plans are totally transparent to her. But best to leave you with your fond hopes of victory. If we unmasked you all, despondency would set in and the hunt wouldn’t be half so much fun…

          • For every person you think you know, there are at least six in deep cover you are clueless about …. most don’t even know themselves.

          • sarky

            Don’t think I’ll go to coughton court – really don’t fancy seeing the priests hole.!

          • The Explorer

            You could always look at the Rose Labyrinth instead.

  • len

    If you want to improve church attendance give the people what they want.Don`t call the building’ the church’ any more and get in some trendy leaders who are ‘progressive’ in their lifestyles .Pop Music and concerts go down well with lots of jumping up and down(seems to be all the’ rave’ nowadays.Don`t mention to the audience that they are ‘sinners because they will not like that and that`s being ‘judgemental ‘anyway

    Or you could get into that boring old religion thing, rituals, dressing up
    in funny clothes with pointy hats and suchlike but that stuff seems to
    be dying out?.

    Or if you are really serious about turning your life around and getting saved in the way Jesus Christ advocated take a long serious look at the world and your life and if you do not like what you see then throw yourself on the Mercy of God, repent and ask Jesus Christ into your life that He might give you His Life in the place of yours….

    Or just carry on as you are ……………………….

    • Shadrach Fire

      Hey Len,
      Theirs nothing wrong with a bit of jumping up and down when led by the Spirit. King David did it and his stuffy old wife didn’t approve.

      • Hmmm …. King David did all sorts, so Jack wouldn’t necessarily recommend following his example.

      • dannybhoy

        What denomination was she anyway?

      • Altesegel

        David danced naked which I think charismatics and penticostals should take note of if they really want to be strictly scriptural.

        • dannybhoy

          Interesting that!
          There is no where else in the Tenach where this occured. King David was a man who truly loved God, even though he committed some awful sins…
          (he probably viewed the approach of Yom Kippur with a certain amount of trepidation).
          But why dance naked?
          Avi??

          • Pubcrawler

            My understanding is that he was more ‘undressed’ than actually naked, i.e. dressed simply like the common people, not regally like a king. Michal rebuked him because she was a snob.

          • According to 2 Samuel 6:14. David was wearing a ‘linen ephod’ or ornamented vest. 1 Chron. 15:7 adds that he was also wearing a robe of fine linen. He was actually dressed like a priest (Exodus 28:5ff). When Michal rebuked him for ‘exposing himself’ she did not mean it the way people do today. She thought that by his dancing and rejoicing before God he was exposing himself to ridicule.
            .
            It should be noted that there is no suggestion of anyone dancing in the Temple or during a service.

          • dannybhoy

            The Complete Jewish Bible has it thus….
            “12 King David was told, “Adonai has blessed the house of ‘Oved-Edom and everyone who belongs to him, thanks to the ark of God.” So David went and joyously brought the ark of God up from the house of ‘Oved-Edom into the City of David. 13 When those bearing the ark of Adonai had gone only six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened sheep. 14 Then David danced and spun around with abandon before Adonai, wearing a linen ritual vest. 15 So David and all the house of Isra’el brought up the ark of Adonai with shouting and the sound of the shofar. 16 As the ark of Adonai entered the City of David, Mikhal the daughter of Sha’ul, watching from the window, saw King David leaping and spinning before Adonai; and she was filled with contempt for him.”

            So you are right and Martin is right and somebody else was wrong,,,, Dohh!

          • CliveM

            Oh, could you tell us who Dannybhoy? (Smiles innocently)

          • dannybhoy

            Why, that would be that Danny chap who’s always going off topic…

          • CliveM

            Ah, not surprised. :0)

        • Anton

          Naked was viewed as a disgrace in Judaism; very different from naked Greek wrestling. I suspect that his wife’s admonition that he exposed himself relates to the energy of his dancing while wearing loose robes.

      • len

        I know Shadrach Fire but King David was led by the Spirit of God, I sometimes wonder exactly what spirit people are being led by in the church concerts today?.

        I remember watching an episode of ‘the Simpsons’ when a singer who used to sing in Church left Church and went over to pop concerts and used the same songs but just changed the name ‘Jesus’ to ‘babe’ in the songs.
        Seems to be a whole lot of truth in that episode of’ the Simpsons?’.

  • Phil R

    If it was a business that was going into decline then you would look around for the good managers and promote (In the Cof E case means Orthodox) them and sack the rest.

    To be honest it is difficult to see how the Bishops could have collectively provided worse leadership.

    What about the AoC? He has had a good short at it, but sadly, it seems he is weak and will not stand against Evil.

    Now is the time for him to stand aside to make way for a proven and successful Anglican Leader for the Anglican Church, this time selected with proportional representation of the World Wide Communion, based on the numbers of worshippers.

    If you have crap leaders, who it seems don’t even believe, the Church cannot grow.

    • Dominic Stockford

      A ‘good’ leader in biblical terms is one who preaches the Gospel in season and out of season – not someone who necessarily seems to have any ‘worldly success’

      • sarky

        What’s the point of preaching to an empty church?? Surely if your not attracting anyone questions need to be asked?

      • Phil R

        I agree with sarky

        if you have a good product and nobody is buying. You need to repackage the product

        • Martin

          Phil

          Actually, in the Church, you don’t have a product, you have a duty, as Dominic expressed. It is God who gives the growth, not the AoC or AoY.

  • not a machine

    It has been some time some time since I commented on your graces blog ,more than likely back in the days of social media wild west , I am still considering some of my views along my journey ,but this post perhaps poses some beginning to perhaps develop my views further.
    I must admit that for some time I have been a little gloomy about what will become of the Church of England for as your grace so often points out “it gets curiouser and curiouser ” the closer you are to thinking you understand it.I am a little tired of the new zeitgeist being proffered by people who claim the future is much better if we dispense with the past. Quite where we might think the thin edge began is an all too interesting question and when our anger at unfounded change is cut too close ,it is perhaps rather natural to wish to throw the “milk” rather than the “meat” back , breeching the peace in so doing.
    I am more aware now of how gods works in the little deeds of our lives , how the holy spirit seems that much more corresponding when we consider ,or perhaps to quote the Jedi “are mindful of our thoughts” .
    For now we are perhaps more distracted than we realise, or would like to admit in this busy communications environment , there are deeper things at work in our loosening of Christ in this country ,idolatry is perhaps an old word, but it does perhaps consider that the love of objects is not the same as the love of God , some may see a link between idolatry and rebellion .But then we mustn’t forget that mystery is also at odds with certainty ,the good shepherd would not want his sheep to stray , the Christ as shepherd would ask us to consider that there is more than morality .
    I can quite understand that new discoveries and concepts create there own gravity of popularity and devotion ,to discern what is good seems to be a more difficult job.
    I am reluctant to think I know what the church should be , rushing towards a new horizon and understanding , or rushing toward a cliff edge based around ignorant teaching and pride in titles on doors rather than biblical osmosis.
    I will perhaps offer a hint , Simon Heffer wrote in the daily mail a rare and unusual piece of his profession about his Grammar school headmaster , it was real ,accurate ,balanced and considered and a loving tribute , to a man who had fostered in him curiosity about the world he was in .Simon Heffer is a self confessed atheist and yet , you may ponder why his piece resonated so well as though accidentally defining an era.
    The bible says the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in the centre of the garden , we are told that in eating the fruit of it, that from that moment “you shall surely die” ,yet those who earnestly repent will receive remission of sins .
    The church hasn’t had much to say about sin , so perhaps people don’t know they may have to repent .goodness knows the devil is being expunged (rather than perhaps more better explained ) and well if no devil (as it isn’t really rational) then mmm well we become a bit unsure about evil .
    ah but surely in world of new understanding about the mind , mind plasticity more medication solutions ,who needs God when you can be happy ?
    The church does not want people to not be happy .(pauses) or people who must seek repentance ??
    The strange thing is what Christ said does indeed seem to a point to a “care of your thoughts” or even fine and difficult moments of repentance .
    Perhaps we must drudge on through this swamp and cloud and heavy going to find our more solid theology and ground , listening to God alway, we should not fear the riches in our poverty of unknowing collectively as a church , but I do think it remains that individual salvation , is not something accompanied by club points.
    I/we that profess the risen Christ have it seems only our personal faith ,but I perhaps would like the many failures and tragedies of socialism/Marxism/communism/Nazism that this fight is far from over and it is my hope that you live to see your error ,and join the church in kneeling at the altar ,rather than the alteration of the mind .
    Godbless

    • Phil R

      So what are you actually proposing?

      • not a machine

        proposing ? mmm in all fairness I haven’t quite got an answer in a directive other than a divergent view has penetrated a certain numerical quantity of the clergy ,the bible is having not so much a new wine , but a new meaning and brother stands in a position to offend brother. I have sympathy with some of the views about what people may be happy in , but then my modern brothers seem not to like having a more deeper theology based around the saints and founding thinkers .The question is more around how one will accommodate the other ,now I think as St Paul sayeth “we believe in one God” and if there is an acceptance of grandfather rights on the feast days. It perhaps seems to dividing a line ,but where do we go if we believe that consider the soul is a whole thing and not an intellectual exercise , and that the historical linage of the church has shown both error and light if the historical context is important ?

        • Phil R

          Thanks for the reply

          However I am still no clearer about what you are taking about

          • J C M D

            same

          • not a machine

            well what do you propose yourself on this blog article ? then we can try it question by question.

  • Merchantman

    My belief is for the CofE to become a revitalised New Testament Church and preach the Gospel in Spirit and in Truth. The structure is good but there are too many unbelievers at the top. Who am I to judge though. However It seems that solely preaching a social gospel just means you are part of social services. Jesus was about the whole man and more than just the outward and visible signs.
    Cut the left wing stuff and be Muscular Christians.
    Amen.

    • David

      Amen to that !

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes. Preach the word (sow the seed) and let God water it and bring it to life.

        • sarky

          Except that for the majority of the time you’re preaching to the converted.

          • David

            Strengthening the faith of the faithful is essential though !
            But I agree that the biggest problem is how to reach out to the unchurched and partially churched. The false reassurance provided by modernity, and our post-modern age, goes along the lines that, no one needs God or his gospel, as humanity gets along fine, some say better, without Jesus Christ.

          • sarky

            Exactly. The people have voted with their feet.

          • The Explorer

            When God visited Earth, humanity put HIm to death.

          • Linus

            If you’re gay you certainly get along better without Jesus Christ. If you’re gay, Jesus Christ is an insupportable burden you drag through life like a ball and chain, weighing you down and imprisoning you behind a wall of solitude and isolation.

            Of course most straight people neither know nor care about the damage Christianity wreaks in the lives of gay people. They’re alright Jack, and who cares about anyone else? And right there you have one of the best reasons why they should question the morality of a religion that discriminates against those who are different and places unbearable burdens on their shoulders while doing nothing to help them.

            But they won’t, because they’re alright Jack, and to be alright all anyone has to do is be just like them.

            And you wonder why the Church has declined…

          • Anton

            It did well enough in the ancient Greek world where there was far more same-sex activity.

            Ask Rosaria Butterfield whether Jesus Christ is an “unsupportable burden [that gays] drag through life”. She found help in him from that way.

          • Linus

            Self-loathing lesbians like the Butterfield woman will swallow any pill, no matter how bitter, if they think it will cure them of their “illness”. The problem is that their “cure” is self-reported and therefore impossible to verify independently.

            “Jesus made me straight” basically means “Jesus is a façade behind which I hide my true self”. Even ex-gay poster boys like the bone-chilling Alan Chambers admit as much.

            That’s Christianity’s solution for us: pretend to be who you’re not and one day you’ll be miraculously changed. Only you never are, so pretending becomes a life-long occupation. That’s why Christianity has no traction in the LGBT community. So many of us have experienced the emptiness of its promises from the inside. Our experience of Christian “witness” teaches us something very different from yours.

          • Anton

            The problem is that none of us is who we were designed to be.

          • sarky

            The logical conclusion to that is that no particular group should be singled out for persecution. But thay are aren’t they? ?

          • Anton

            God made certain things illegal in the one time and place where he set the laws. (The definition of sin did not change at the crucifixion, but the New Testament is basically about what God does for the individual whereas the Old is mostly about what he did for a nation.) Would you call groups who systematically broke ancient Israel’s laws “persecuted”?

          • sarky

            “Time and place” is the crux of the matter. What was relevent 2000 years ago in the desert is not relevant now in the West. I’m sorry but it’s just plain discrimination, nothing more nothing less. If god had chosen to interact in our time and not then, I’m pretty sure the bible would be very very different.

          • Anton

            The thuggees were a murder cult in India. For that, the British wiped them out. Murder is of course prohibited in ancient Israel’s laws. Would you say the thuggees were “persecuted”?

          • Linus

            The thugees hurt people. Gays do not.

            Gay sex is a victimless crime. Nobody gets hurt, or at least no more so than the average woman who has sex. In fact, significantly less. Anal prolapse is rare in the gay community. Vaginal prolapse affects up to one third of straight women. The incidence of cervical cancer among lesbians is so low as to be almost non-existent. Not so in the female heterosexual population. Straight sex is dangerous. It should be banned.

          • Anton

            What is the average age at death of gay men and straight men in Western countries?

          • Linus

            What is the average age of death of men compared to women? Are women better than men because they live longer?

            In any case, where does it say in the Bible than longevity is a gauge of virtue? I’m 50. Christ died at the age of 33. So does that mean I’m 50% more virtuous than Christ?

            Perhaps a shorter life is our reward rather than our punishment. We get to be with God before you. Perhaps your longer life is a sign of divine displeasure. Like a nasty little boy pulling the wings off flies, perhaps he just wants to torture you longer than us.

          • Anton

            Those whom the gods love die young? That was the Greek pantheon, not the Trinity.

          • Linus

            And where does it say in the Bible that those whom
            God loves die old?

            He loved his own son, didn’t he?

          • Anton

            Nowhere. That was a Greek saying, not a Hebrew one, which was my point.

          • Linus

            My question was “where in the Bible does it say that God loves those who die old?” There is no evidence that a long lifespan indicates divine favour. Just because statistics indicate that out gay men have, on average, a shorter lifespan than straight men doesn’t mean that being gay is wrong. Straight men have shorter lifespans than women, so does that mean being a man is wrong?

          • Anton

            Nowhere, as you probably know. But to take the discussion further, what things do gay men die younger of?

          • Linus

            Gay men don’t die of anything that straights don’t also die of. There’s no such thing as a “gay plague”.

            Christians on the other hand quite often seem to be on the verge of dying from self-righteous hypocrisy. Especially on this blog. I haven’t seen it happen yet although there are one or two likely candidates who could go “pop” at any time…

          • Anton

            No one gay plague, but look at the proportions of who dies of what when…

          • Linus

            We all die, so what’s this obsession with who dies of what when? You’ll be dead soon enough, as will I. Even if you live a year or 5 years longer than me, you’ll be just as dead as I am when you die.

            If you’re trying to make out that living longer or dying of certain causes makes you a superior person, please find me the bible passages that support this.

            Is a fat and gluttonous Christian virgin who dies at 60 from blocked arteries a better person than a fit and height-weight proportionate gay man who dies at 40 from an AIDS related illness? Does this mean that gluttony is less sinful than gay sex? What about the fat and gluttonous Christian virgin who dies at 40 and the fit and height-weight proportionate gay man who dies at 60? Is the glutton still better than the gay? How can he be if he dies 20 years sooner?

            Your logic is no logic at all. It’s just a superstitious attempt to correlate virtue with longevity. If you were an ignorant peasant living around the time of the Black Death, one could understand it. But you’re not, so what excuse do you have?

          • Anton

            You know what I’m getting at Linus. Gay men die younger on average due to disease deriving from their gay lifestyle. In our society they are legally free to do so but some would say that this should be viewed primarily as another unhealthy addiction.

            But then, sin of any sort is what humanity is addicted to and the cause of all death.

          • The Explorer

            The thugees did more than hurt people. They killed people. And Foucault did more than hurt others. He infected others with HIV (one hopes unknowingly) and they later died.

            In Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ the mother herself is sexually blameless, but the son has still inherited syphilis as a result of the father’s promiscuity. The Sexual Revolution has equalised all that, with the resultant huge increase in female STD’s as a result of huge increases in female promiscuity. So perhaps the first comparison should be not between gays and women, but between women in monogamous and women in promiscuous relationships.

            Anal prolapse may be relatively rare, but it isn’t the only factor in the gay community. Shelving HIV, and confining the discussion to nonviral infections, there’s amebiasis, giardiasis, gonorrhoea, shigellosis, chlamydia syphilis and ectoparasites to be going on with. (The same applies, of course, to heterosexual couples who choose alternatives to the vagina.)

          • The Explorer

            The thugees did more than hurt people. They killed them. And Foucault did more than hurt others when he infected them with HIV (one hopes unknowingly). They later died.

            In Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ the mother is herself sexually blameless, but the son has inherited syphilis as a result of the father’s promiscuity. The Sexual Revolution has equalised all that, with the huge increase in female STD’s as a result of the huge increase in female promiscuity. So perhaps the first comparison ought to be not between gays and women, but between women in monogamous relationships and those in multiple relationships.

            Anal prolapse may be rare, but it is not the only factor in the gay community. Shelving HIV, and confining the discussion to nonviral infections, there’s amebiasis, giardiasis, gonorrhoea, shigellosis, chlamydia, syphilis and ectoparasites to be going on with. (Some of those also apply, of course, to heterosexual couples who choose alternatives to the vagina.)

          • Linus

            If God had a problem with anal sex then why isn’t it expressly banned for everyone? A man and his wife can engage in it and still be in perfect compliance with Christian sexual morality. As long as semen is deposited in the vagina at some point of the sexual act, couples can do what they like.

            The issue God has with gay sex can’t have anything to do with anal intercourse because if it did, he would have banned it for everyone. The issue is clearly bound up in an arbitrary ban. God is basically saying “I’m God, I make the rules and I don’t care whether they make any sense or who they hurt, I just demand to be obeyed.”

            That’s your benevolent God. An omnipotent being for which no proof exists and who acts in a way so at variance with the basic concept of benevolence that even if he does exist and is omnipotent, he can’t be who he says he is. God, if he exists, is a liar. Shouldn’t that make you afraid?

          • The Explorer

            Your opening sentence is absolutely correct, and it’s a very good point.
            Christ speaks of sinful thoughts as well as deeds; so pornography is out. Adultery is condemned outright; so that cuts out wife swapping, threesomes and orgies. Bestiality is condemned outright for both sexes. So is male/male and female/female homosexuality. But anal sex isn’t.
            However, even monogamous anal sex carries health risks that monogamous vaginal sex doesn’t, and the New Testament does say that you should honour your body and not knowingly harm it. I suppose it’s up to individuals to decide, but for heterosexuals a safer alternative is automatically available.
            Your description of God is very much the description of the divinities in Homer – arbitrary and capricious – and they did, indeed, make humans very much afraid. It’s another very good point. If God exists, why should God be Love? Why shouldn’t God be a cosmic bully, lapping up the blood of human sacrifice?
            All your posts on this thread relating to God’s attitude to homosexuality have, in my view, been excellent: models of their kind.

          • The Explorer

            Absolutely. “Love your neighbour as yourself” was relevant then, but isn’t relevant now.

          • The Explorer

            They certainly are. The Doukhobors objected to military service, but not to dancing naked round a camp fire. The Russians persecuted them for pacifism, so they emigrated to Canada where they were persecuted for obscenity. Some groups just can’t win.

            Ailing chickens will be pecked to death by the other chickens. Ailing wildebeest will be gored to death by the rest of the herd. It just seems to be something about difference and the evolutionary process.

          • Linus

            Well that’s all the consolation any gay person needs, isn’t it? Knowing that none of us are what we were designed to be is all we need to keep us warm at night and we can therefore live in solitary confinement for our entire lives and not bat an eyelid.

            Of course the same knowledge is apparently no consolation for straights.

            So how come you get to have your cake and eat it too whereas we have no cake and nothing else to eat either? It looks as though God has his favourite children and the rest of us can just go to hell.

          • Anton

            Yes, but you can join us.

          • Linus

            Polyandry is banned in Christianity.

          • chiefofsinners

            Just reading your ever-entertaining and thought provoking comments. It’s understandable that you find the Christian approach to homosexuality objectionable. So what do you think is the origin of homosexuality? Does it have a genetic origin and evolutionary advantage which leads to the genes being propagated? Or is it social in its origin rather than genetic?

          • Linus

            There are many theories about the origin of sexual orientation. Some are plausible, others less so.

            Current research supports an epigenetic origin with maternal hormones influencing fetal development and an increasing likelihood of homosexuality (at least in males) with every successive birth.

            The advantage of homosexuality in evolutionary terms is in the provision of service to the extended family group without adding an extra burden of extra offspring to provide for.

            Whatever the reasons behind the origin of sexual orientation, the fact remains that some people are gay and always will be. Christianity punishes us for something that is not our fault. It also contradicts itself by saying that its yoke is light and then placing a yoke so heavy on our shoulders that most of us collapse under its weight and abandon faith altogether.

            Marriage is supposed to be a remedy against sin. It is better to marry than burn. But not if you’re gay. There are no remedies against sin for us.

            This lack of provision for gay people forces us to the conclusion that the “flourishing” and “abundant life” promised by the Bible to the faithful are not meant for us. We’re created with the same desire as straight people for love and partnership, but expressly forbidden from seeking these things. What clearer proof could there be of God’s essential lack of benevolence?

            A malevolent God isn’t God in the Christian sense of the word. And if God isn’t God then the bible is merely fiction. As we have no independent evidence corroborating the gospels and the Church is incapable of presenting any proof that God actually exists, if you’re gay there’s only one conclusion you can reach: it’s all a lie, there is no
            God and Christians are just homophobes looking for an excuse to make our lives a misery.

            The alternative is to accept that a loving God requires the impossible from us for no good reason other than obedience for obedience’s sake, and if we fail to comply, he will torture us for all eternity. The idea is so ludicrous and far-fetched that it can only be a myth.

          • chiefofsinners

            Oh right. I thought there might be some proposed explanation that was more cohesive and less speculative than that. Perhaps a mechanism by which female hormones create homosexuality or a reason why homosexual ‘drones’ are more useful than, say, sterile ones. I wonder what the proposed origin of bisexuality is?
            The thing is that the lack of a decent explanation lends credibility to the view that homosexuality is conditioned behaviour and therefore could be ‘un-conditioned’.

            On the other matters, I don’t think God prohibits homosexual love or companionship, just intercourse. Homosexuals are in a similar position to a heterosexual who has never found the right person to marry, someone in love with a person who is married to someone else, a widower, a divorcee, a child below the age of consent or even a person who has feelings of attraction towards children. Sticking to God’s rules is a burden of sorts to everyone. Jesus’ point was a relative lightness, saying ‘come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden…”.
            God does not ask obedience for obedience’s sake. He asks for obedience out of gratitude, love and humility.

          • Linus

            God asks for nothing because he doesn’t exist. Humans demand obedience to arbitrary laws they blame on God, but which are really just them imposing their will on everyone else in his name.

            As I don’t think you’re a god and I have no intention of falling at the feet of your reflection in a mirror and worshipping it, I won’t be following your laws.

            I know that must irritate you, but you know what? I don’t care! And neither do a LOT of other people. Enough to vote for governments that make laws we can all live by.

            Live by your own rules if you want to. But don’t expect the rest of us to comply.

          • chiefofsinners

            It’s you who sounds irritated. Sorry, that was not my intention. You are of course free to do and believe whatever you choose. However I would have thought that someone basing their life so determinedly on the belief that ‘homosexuals are born that way and can’t change’ would have better evidence to support that belief.

          • Linus

            What causes differences in sexual orientation is only of academic interest to me.

            I have blue eyes, but I don’t need to know what causes that to look in the glass and see them for myself. My blue eyes are there for all to see and whatever causes them, although it may be of passing interest, won’t change the fact of their colour.

            As well as having had blue eyes my whole life, I’ve also only ever been attracted to members of my own sex. That has never changed so I have no more reason to believe it will than I have reason to believe I’ll wake up tomorrow with brown eyes.

            I’m happy with my blue eyes. I have no desire to alter them. And I’m also happy with my sexual orientation. My blue eyes harm nobody and neither does my sexual orientation. So I have no reason to want to change, which I couldn’t even if I wanted to, because no amount of therapy or wishful thinking will make my blue eyes brown, and no amount of quackery or pleading with an imaginary god will make me straight.

            I have blue eyes and I’m gay. I have no issue with either situation. Why do you? What’s your problem?

          • chiefofsinners

            I was also born with blue eyes but at some point before I can remember they turned brown. The process is controlled by a well understood set of genes. Sexual orientation is not. There is such a wide range of sexual preferences that it seems unlikely they can be accounted for by genetics and evolutionary theory. How might we explain sadism, necrophilia, rubber fetishism or a thousand others? This leaves the most likely answer that these things are caused by environmental factors after birth and may therefore yield to treatment for those who wish to change.
            The only problem I have is that you attack Christianity so vigorously when the foundations of your own position are so weak.

          • Linus

            There really aren’t that many sexual orientations to choose from. There’s heterosexuality, and homosexuality, and bisexuality and asexuality. That’s about it.

            The other things you mentioned are not sexual orientations, but rather sexual disorders. It’s easy to tell the difference between an orientation and a disorder: an orientation can be lived healthily without harming others. A disorder cannot. A paedophile cannot have the kind of sex he desires without causing harm. A gay or straight or bisexual individual can.

            When you look at the science behind sexual orientation, it soon becomes clear that maternal hormonal exposure is a pretty solid theory. Depending on the levels of exposure to maternal oestrogen a developing fetus will either be gay, straight or bisexual. The scale is a simple one and we all sit on it somewhere. The exception is the asexual, whose orientation is determined by other factors, although more study is needed to work out exactly what those factors are. But as asexuality is not a controversial subject, it’s not likely much funding for research will be made available any time soon.

            The base from which I criticise Christianity is a solid one, backed up by exhaustive peer-reviewed studies. Where’s the scientific evidence proving that a man claiming to be the son of God really did rise from the dead? Where’s the evidence that a God even exists?

            The evidence for the origins of sexual orientation is relatively recent and I’ve been gay for a lot longer than it’s been available, so although it’s interesting finally to know why I’m gay, I wasn’t waiting for confirmation. I already knew. And just like I know that my blue eyes won’t turn brown if I pray to your imaginary god, I also know that I won’t suddenly wake up straight one day. Epigenetically determined traits do not change.

            The absolute proof of this is to be found in the absence of all evidence that anyone has ever changed their sexual orientation. Many have claimed they have changed, but this is just self-reporting, largely driven by religious bias, and therefore totally unreliable..

            If people who claim they have changed would undergo independent testing designed to measure their involuntary physiological responses to various sexual stimuli, then we would know for sure whether they’re telling the truth or lying. But oddly enough, they all refuse to do so.

            I wonder why…

          • chiefofsinners

            Your attempt to distinguish between ‘orientation’ and ‘disorder’ is useful in that it identifies desires which are not necessarily immediately harmful to others if acted upon. With the usual caveats of course that there is consent, that trust is not betrayed, power not abused and so-on.
            However there are many other attractions that are not necessarily harmful. Attractions to the dead, to animals, fetishes of various kinds.
            Then there are all the ones that are harmful to others. Are you really saying that your chosen four are determined in the womb by a well understood mechanism, but all others are determined in some other way? It does not seem likely. In terms of logic alone your suggestions are found wanting. Since logic is on my side, the burden to produce evidence to the contrary is on you.
            One thing is obvious: you will never change if you have convinced yourself that change is impossible. I’m trying to prise open your certainty and raise the possibility that you could live a happy life as a Christian.
            I guess that most gay people who live as Christians continue to have the same urges to a greater or lesser degree, in the same way that I might be attracted to my neighbour’s wife. But they have decided not to act upon them, as have I. There are multiple points for all Christians where we put God’s commands ahead of our own ideas about what might make us happy. We believe that we are giving up something which we cannot keep in order to gain something which we cannot lose.
            I am sorry that becoming a Christian would necessitate giving up the lifestyle you enjoy so much. As an atheist there is no logical reason why you should give it up and I do not seek to compel you, nor do I have any ill-will towards you. If, however, you come to believe in God as a designer and creator then it is obvious that human reproduction is designed to work in one way. It then follows logically that practices which deviate from that one way are not in accord with the mind of God.

          • Linus

            Acting on an attraction to the dead and to animals is not the same as having sex. Sex is a consensual act between two or more individuals and neither corpses nor animals are capable of giving consent. Necrophilia and bestiality are therefore more akin to masturbation than they are sex and certainly can’t be considered as sexual orientations.

            Yes, the four sexual orientations are decided in utero. Research has confirmed this time and time again. You don’t want this to be true because you refuse to accept anything that contradicts the predetermined conclusions that your religion sets out for you. Your mind is utterly closed to any other possibility and there’s no chance it will ever be opened because your beliefs are dogmatic and therefore beyond the reach of reason and logic.

          • chiefofsinners

            Without the attraction, the sex doesn’t happen, obviously. So necrophilia, bestiality and the many other odd sexual attractions are all the same as your four ‘orientations’. You have argued yourself naked and are struggling to find a fig leaf. In this situation, historically, God provides clothing.

          • Linus

            Sexual orientation does what it says: it orients you towards a specific kind of partner for the purposes of pair bonding. Sexual attraction plays a big role in that of course, but orientation is about far more than just sex.

            Phenomena like necrophilia and bestiality are not orientations because they don’t lead you towards a viable pair bond. You cannot pair bond with a dead body or an animal. You can be obsessed by them, but that doesn’t translate into a real human relationship.

            Your problem is that you don’t understand what an orientation actually is because as a Christian you’ve been taught to dismiss everything that doesn’t fit into the simplistic religious framework of Adam and Eve as “sin”. It’s one more example, if any were needed, of how dogmatic beliefs can render even reasonably intelligent people completely stupid.

            I would tell you to open your mind to the possibility of something beyond your blinkered and discriminatory certainties, but it wouldn’t do any good. Your mind is utterly closed and can’t be opened. You have argued yourself into a prison cell and can only wander about banging into the walls and thinking they define the limits of the entire universe. They do not and there’s a whole wide world outside. You have the key to your cell door, but in order to escape you have to want to use it. And you don’t, do you?

          • The Explorer

            I hope you will not think me insincere when I say I found this very honest and very moving. Your stance is exactly that of A E Housman:

            Please yourselves, say I, and they
            Need only look the other way,
            But no thy will not; they must still
            Wrest their neighbour to their will,
            And make me dance as they desire
            With jail and gallows and hell-fire.

          • The Explorer

            If you define yourself by your sexuality, then, fair enough, any attempt to change your orientation will mean you are self-loathing. But is one’s sexuality the valid determining basis for self-definition?

            Something to be thinking about for a future thread. I’m off blog for a while (guests) .

            I see Guglielmo’s entered the lists. Hi, Guglielmo. You and Linus can criticise me in my absence.

          • Linus

            Sexuality is one characteristic among many that condition my identity.

            If I’m not allowed to identify as gay, why should I identify as male, or French, or white, or anything else?

            Why among the many things that define me is my sexuality the one thing I’m not allowed to take into account when describing who I am? Because you don’t like it?

          • What if I’m an alcoholic and I think it defines my identity?
            What if I’m morbidly obese and I think it defines my identity? “I like food, and I like to eat a lot of it. It’s who I am; it defines me. Respect me!”

            What if I’m a wife-beater, a heroin addict, a cleptomaniac or a chronic gambler and I think they define my identity? “It’s who I am; respect me! I just knock my wife around a bit. I can’t help it. It’s just what I do. It defines me.
            .
            You are a slave to a sin which has serious consequences. It is the leading cause of an incurable disease. The fact that antiretroviral drugs can keep the disease away (at the cost of £1.5 billion pa to the NHS) does not alter that, and you will be aware of the serious side-effects that ARV drugs can have.

            http://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/antiretroviral-drugs-side-effects-adherence#Overview1
            And yet between 500 and 700 people still die from AIDs each year in Britain, most of them homosexuals not to mention various other unhappy side-effects depending on one’s homosexual practices.
            .
            The human body is not constructed for same-sex intercourse any more than it is constructed to accommodate promiscuity of any sort, or heroin or large quantities of alcohol or food.
            .
            You are the slave of a besetting sin, and God calls you to leave it behind. He does not promise that it will be easy, but He does promise the power to do so if you will trust in Him.

          • Linus

            An excess of alcohol is harmful. As is an excess of food. Beating your wife harms her. Theft harms those who are stolen from. Gambling is risky and can lead to harm if overindulged in.

            There is however nothing about gay sex that harms anyone. It is NOT the cause of AIDS, which is caused by a virus that can be transmitted in various ways, including sexual contact, gay or straight. Look at African figures for
            HIV transmission if you don’t believe me.

            If I have sex with my partner and only my partner and neither of us carry HIV, we will not develop AIDS. If you have sex with your wife and she carries HIV, you may develop AIDS. Straight sex is therefore the cause of AIDS and should be banned, or at least that’s the logical outcome of your poorly thought-out arguments. It goes to show what happens when ignorance meets ingrained prejudice.

            Gay sex is harmful, eh? Why then are proportionally far more women are harmed by straight sex than both men and women together by gay sex? Look at the figures for vaginal prolapse, cervical cancer and any number of sexually transmitted diseases. Straight sex has been and still is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the world. If the human body is “designed for it”, then it’s very badly designed. If God was responsible for the design, he didn’t so a very good job.

            Using your own arguments, straight sex must be an abomination because it causes so much physical harm. And yet all you straight people are totally addicted to it and refuse to give it up. Why won’t you stop hurting your wives by having sex with them? It’s just not natural!

          • You are in denial. Tens of thousands of homosexuals have died of AIDS, including some friends of mine and a very dear cousin. 2,800 were infected in 2013. Being a homosexual is a very dangerous occupation.
            Having a husband who indulges in a spot of homosexuality is also a dangerous occupation for a woman, but many of them don’t know until it’s too late.

          • Linus

            You are in denial. Millions of straight women have died in childbirth, including my own great-grandmother. 33 women die in childbirth every hour. Being a straight woman is a very dangerous occupation.

          • The Explorer

            Guests have gone for a walk.
            I think this is one instance in which you and I are in rare agreement. I did not say you could not identify as gay (where?); or, if I did, it was inadvertent.
            You are a white, middle-aged, gay, atheist, property-owning, Parisian-dwelling French male. Your gayness is A thing that defines you. I don’t see why it should be THE thing. It applies in some circumstances, and not at all in others.

          • Linus

            Who said it was THE thing that defines me? It’s the thing that Christians make a huge issue out of and tell me I’m going to hell because of. You’re the ones who make it my entire identity, not me.

          • The Explorer

            I’m not sure it’s us. Christians didn’t start ‘Pink News’. I think Freud moved sex centre stage, and defining oneself by one’s sexuality probably dates from that.

          • Martin

            Linus

            You are going to Hell because of your rebellion against God, your sexual sin is only a small part of your rebellion.

          • Linus

            Both you and I are going to oblivion just like everyone else, because there is no hell, and there is no heaven, and there is no God.

            There is no consciousness before birth, therefore there is no reason to suppose that there will be consciousness after death. Consciousness is limited to the period between birth and death that we call life. Outside of that all there is is oblivion.

          • Martin

            Linus

            We all go into something far from oblivion, the never ending conciousness of either blessing or cursing, either God’s love or His condemnation.

          • Linus

            So God is Gollum, is he? He’ll curse me for all eternity. “Atheist! Linus! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!”

            You go right ahead and give free rein to your revenge fetish. Imagine me burning for all eternity as punishment for disagreeing with you. The pleasure such a prospect gives you is clear enough to see, but whatever floats your boat is fine by me, especially considering you have no more power to influence what happens “after death” than I do. Of course there is no “after death”, so none of us can decide what will happen then as the moment will never exist. But if it keeps you happy during your lifetime to fantasize about the pain and suffering your imaginary god will dole out to those who oppose you, far be it from me to stop you.

            For my part I’ll just reflect for a moment on the sick and twisted nature of Christian revenge psychology, shrug my shoulders and move on.

          • Martin

            Nothing to do with revenge, everything to do with justice. You denigrate your Creator, who owns you, and rebel against your Maker. The punishment fits the crime of utter ingratitude, an eternal punishment for an infinite crime.

          • Linus

            The concept of owning a sentient being is offensive. If that’s how your imaginary god operates, it tells me all I need to know about the sick psychology of the humans who dream him up.

            You go ahead and commoditize yourself. It puts you exactly where the Church wants you to be: firmly under its thumb.

            Uncle Tom is alive and well and haunts this website. How very sad.

          • Martin

            Linus

            Oh dear, is your pride damaged? God created you so He owns you and gets to tell you what is right and wrong.

            BTW, the Church isn’t an organisation, it’s a group of people, people who God has saved from the folly you love. Only God gets to tell us what to do, not men.

          • Linus

            God did not create me. My parents did, but as the reasonable human beings they were, they didn’t consider this gave them proprietory rights over me.

            You carry on with your master/slave fantasy. It’s easy to see why abject potboilers like “50 Shades of Grey” appeal to those schooled in Christian ideas of dominance and submission.

            While you’re grovelling before your invisible slavemaster and flattering him with your servile and contemptible worship, ask yourself why he would want the service of a miserable creature like you. Perhaps that’s why he never shows himself. He’s got better things to do than listen to your self-interested “save me and I’ll love you” nonsense.

            Of course the real reason he never shows himself is because he can’t. When you don’t exist, it’s hard to manifest yourself in the real world…

          • Martin

            Linus

            So your parents took the DNA from each other and chose the combination that would be you, took the two cells and caused them to combine so that the cells of your body would multiply and build your body, building tiny scaffolding for parts and then dismantling it? I think not.

            Fact is, you are a slave, a slave to your sin. Your master demands your obedience, requires you to model yourself on it and causes you to describe yourself in its terms. And what does your master give you at the end of time? You get death, the death you so richly deserve for neglecting your Maker.

            Why would God want the service of such a miserable worm as I? Who knows, I know enough about myself to know I’m not worth much, certainly in human terms. But He did, He chose to save me and I know His act of mercy will result in His greater glory. And what do I get out of it? I get eternal life, forgiveness and completion. I’ll stick to what I’ve got, thanks.

          • Linus

            What you’ve got is what you see in the looking glass. Everything else is just your imagination working overtime.

            It may not be much, but however much it is, it’s all you have. A realist will work with what he’s got rather than wasting time dreaming about what he might get in a mythical afterlife where all his imperfections will be airbrushed away. There’s nothing more unattractive than the fake humility that conceals a Christian entitlement syndrome.

            Some of us are luckier than others and therefore don’t see the need to invent fulfilment scenarios where all that has been denied us in this life will suddenly be ours.

            Perhaps that’s why so many Christians have the word “loser” virtually tatooed on their foreheads. Christianity offers them a way to even the score and get what they want, even if only in their own head.

            Imagining something is the next best thing to having it, isn’t it?

          • Martin

            Linus

            “Imagining something is the next best thing to having it, isn’t it?”

            Not in my book, although you may well think otherwise. Remember, you will one day bow before God.

          • Martin

            Linus

            You have no sexuality, you have gender. What you call sexuality is merely your behaviour. So you allow your behaviour to define you.

          • Martin

            Linus

            The façade is your sin which you serve. Just like any other sin, whether it be sexual or of some other form. Rosaria discovered that, and she found someone else to serve who treated her better than her sin.

            Your failure to understand what she has found indicates how dead you are.

          • Linus

            How dead I am? There aren’t degrees of dead, you know. One corpse can’t be any deader than another. Dead is an absolute state: you either are or you’re not.

            Your failure to understand this tells me all I need to know about your intelligence, or rather lack thereof. When did it die, I wonder? Are you naturally inert above the neck or is Christianity responsible for this inability to grasp even the simplest of abstract concepts?

          • The Explorer

            Quick interlude. You can be emotionally dead, while physically alive. Whether you can emotionally alive while physically dead is another matter. Very good response to my question below. No time now; I’ll respond to it later.

          • Martin

            Linus

            There are degrees of dead, the natural state of Man is that he is dead spiritually & dying physically. And that is your state.

          • sarky

            Linus, there are quite a few of us who do care 🙂

          • Martin

            Linus

            Your sin is what you drag through life like a a ball and chain. It governs you and is your master.

            With Christ, His service is perfect freedom, He caries your load.

          • Linus

            Before you give your messiah to me in marriage and require him to “carry my load”, it might be an idea to ask him what he thinks of the idea. Perhaps he’s a top rather than a bottom. You wouldn’t want to the poor man in an awkward position, would you?

          • Martin

            Linus

            I require nothing of God, He requires something of you. Your vulgarity indicates how low, morally, you have sunk.

          • Anton

            Not in some congregations!

          • sarky

            Really?? There are congregations were unbelievers outnumber regulars????

          • Anton

            Real Christianity is always counter-cultural. Where a form of Christianity is or has been the culture, it is not gospel Christianity. Congregations in institutional churches will contain mixtures of real Christians and “cultural Christians”. The latter are not saved, sadly, and are responsible for horrors such as the Inquisition which have given Jesus a bad name in secular society.

          • Dominic Stockford

            That is true, but that is a different preaching, to feed and strengthen those already saved to new life. When I preach elsewhere 90%plus of the seed will, as that proverb points out, fall on stony ground, sarky. it is still God who waters it and brings it to life. That is not in my power.

    • not a machine

      I don’t know if you could describe Christ as muscular , are you sure that is the impression that St Paul gives in being in the early church ?, do not forget there is some mention of preaching in the synagogue Christ did not consider the teaching in the synagogue to be old hat ?

    • Sybaseguru

      It seems there are two ways of doing the “social gospel” – the first is as you say an adjunct of social services that just “fur lines” the gutter to make it more comfortable. The better way is to transform lives with the gospel – do the social bit, but also explain the gospel whilst doing it. This takes people out of the gutter altogether. This was the way Jesus did it. He did the healing and feeding whilst at the same time explaining the kingdom.

  • David

    Certainly within the Church of England, and I’d say Anglicanism globally, theological liberalism usually claims that it places a high value on Reason; this they then argue necessitates “modern” interpretations of Scripture and doctrine. It is only in this way they say, that the Church can be made “relevant” to modernism and post-modernism. In other words they argue for a revisionism, reflecting the changing mores of the surrounding culture.
    Given that Reason must take account of facts, as they are presented before us now, how then are most of the liberal led local churches that I am aware of, in total denial regarding the clear, undeniable fact that all the thriving churches are the Biblically orthodox ones with good, clear Bible teaching ? Such churches are joyous places full of people of all ages, including children, and young men and women, teenagers and in their twenties. These are the churches that are financially successful, often supporting foreign missions and the training of young from Africa for ministry here in the UK, all as true and generous acts as part of the Great Commission.
    Undoubtedly to grow, more of the Church of England should become orthodox. But the bulk of the liberal denomination is, it seems to me, very selective about the use and application of the human faculty of reasoning. Is it because their real agenda is not growth, and the salvation of souls, but following the desires of their own hearts and inclinations ?

    • not a machine

      Well yes much to agree with there , the bread is broken and shared with understanding and service for people to grow and to give learning and perspective to life .It is extraordinarily difficult to consider what is good and I agree it does change with our age/experience. I can see how the philosophers think as they do. As for orthodox I do not know if I understand the linage of orthodoxy in the way I have considered roman catholic and Anglican as for reason or perhaps suggestive reason I think we see quite a bit of that in Christ in his answers to questions by those who of the temple who sought to ensnare him.
      There are of course theologies in Christianity now redundant as there are philosophical lines of thought no longer holding up. Entering into such a vast hall of ideas and thinking is not a pleasant place , you start seeing Christ as a construct rather than a presence .I have gone through quite a number of thoughts , people perhaps want answers/immediate resolution and it is that I both note and find a very troubling aspect of modern society and something I do blame on lack of consideration by recent governments who either took pride in deluding themselves ,eachother and the electorate .

  • len

    The attitude of Biblical Christianity towards homosexuals is one misunderstood by ‘gays’ and by some within ‘the church’ as well.It does great harm to the Gospel for those within the church to misrepresent the mission of Jesus Christ and His attitude towards those He described as’ lost souls’ who He wished to gather as a shepherd gathers his(lost ) sheep.
    There are some things that occur within society that are indicators that point towards ‘the root’ of the problem rather than the problem itself.In biblical terms’ the fruit’ is the result of the nature of’ the tree.’ The nature of those outside of Christ is what presents the ills affecting most of the World.

    Of course persecuting homosexuals is wrong and I am positive that Jesus would condemn that practice this might have been the practice by those who followed Gods Law pre Jesus Christ but not after Jesus Christ giving man the opportunity to receive a new nature through His finished work on the Cross at Calvary.
    Jesus said I do not come to condemn(anyone) but to save those who are lost!.’ Those who are lost’ includes everyone who has not claimed the salvation offered by God through Jesus Christ….

  • Martin

    As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said long ago, Christians should come out of the CoE and join us in Independence, then they would get to say how many ministers their local church had and what outreach to the unsaved it would have.

    Mind that then the congregation would be expected to have an understanding of what they believed and be prepared to test what their ministers said. Then too, the governance of the local Church would be in the hands of the people of God, reading and understanding the Scriptures and not relying on the pronouncements from on high to tell them what to believe and do.

    But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, Know the LORD, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

    (Jeremiah 31:33-34 [ESV])

  • lily

    perhaps the best thing for the advance of the Kingdom of God would be for the COE to die. It has become ever more liberal, and ineffective. Their churches have become businesses, and celebrity has become their god.

    • len

      I wonder if that has happened already(lampstand been removed) the Church would continue for a while but there would be no Light just an increasing darkness.

      • lily

        len – you may be right, the way things are moving we would seem to be nearing the end.

        • Mike Stallard

          I faced this in 1989 and became a Catholic. Don’t ask- just do it. Best thing I ever did – and it is a passport to Church all over the world.
          For Protestant minded Christians: join the Baptists!
          I have often wondered how to re-ignite our local parish church. You can’t.

          • lily

            Jesus said that “HE would build HIS church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it” The problem is that men think it is their job to build the church – it isn’t. Our job as followers of Jesus is to “be Church” Church is people not buildings.

          • Mike Stallard

            OK. And let us remember who was standing under the cross and who were the first people to see the empty tomb too and the first miracle was done with his Mother’s help etc etc.
            But if you say these words, you have to realise that they will cost you the buildings, they will cost you most of the men in the congregation, all the boys in the congregation and several of the girls too, leaving just – Grannies. This is a terrible thing to say, but I have seen it happen so many times, that I now believe it.
            Tell me I am wrong!

          • lily

            I am not sure what your point is here. Unless you thought I was making a feminist comment – I wasn’t. Perhaps I should have said “people” rather than men. There is a place for female ministry but leadership is biblically male. Nothing wrong with grannies per se but we are all included. btw The Lord Jesus didn’t have or need Mary’s help at all. He alone performed the miracle. Mary is just a woman.

          • Mike Stallard

            I was trying to make the point that Jesus, unlike certain other people I could name (Socrates?), treated women with equal respect to men.
            Secondly, I was trying to say that women have indeed got a great place to minister within the community, both Christian and secular. So have men. The problem is getting the right people in the right place.

  • grutchyngfysch

    “Many believe that the biggest struggle the Church of England currently faces is its attitude towards and dealings with those who are LGBT. This is undoubtedly a great and pressing issue, but I believe that the biggest battle is actually for the CofE’s very existence.”

    The two are the same thing – but not in the way it’s conventionally posed. The question is very rarely about how minority sexual desires are to be understood or responded to – rather it is about the Church’s ability to respond to culture. It has to be able to decide whether it regards its host culture as inviolable, even when it is clear that the culture is driven by the unrepentant, the blasphemous, and those who delight in scorning the Word of God.

    Look at it that way, and the issue is not so much about a particular matter of doctrine as it is the larger question of conviction in the Truth of the Gospel. That holds true for the Anglican Church abroad: for all those (like myself) who are dismayed at the CofE’s increasing inability to dissent on matters of sexual immorality, it is worth considering that in countries where opposition to those same practices is far more strident (sometimes murderously so), the problem might be the same, albeit inverted. That condemnation of gay people in places like Uganda may not be so much the fruit of faith in Scripture, as it is the same conviction in mob morality that we criticise here.

    The Anglican Communion’s challenge is the same which faces all church congregations: do we stand by the Word of God even when all around us condemn it as foolishness or weakness? To answer that question in the affirmative is to be called out from the cultures we live in, wherever that may be.

    • lily

      And that includes the total rejection of perverted sexuality – LGBTQ. If the Church is to be faithful to the truth of scripture there is no room for dissent on matters of sexual immorality. – none. That doesn’t mean that gays are beyond God’s redeeming power.

  • Mike Stallard

    I went to a funeral this week. A lady in her late seventies, sporting a dog collar and dressed as a clergyman is one of my distant relations. She told me, with shining eyes, that there is now a woman bishop. She then said that there are a lot of woman priests. I asked her where she was now and she named a very large conurbation in southern England. I asked her how many people came to her church on Sundays. She replied – “About ten”. Then, realising what she was wearing, she changed it to “Four”.
    The funeral, again taken by a very professional woman in her sixties, was slushy, sentimental and yucky. We were not allowed, for instance, to go to the internment. Why?
    It was entirely run by, for and about women. The only men there at the front were the four men who carried the coffin. the sermon was done in the style of a bridegroom’s speech at a wedding, including macabre jokes, by – you guessed it – another woman.

  • Mike Stallard

    OK – I have read a few of the comments. How quickly it turns into a discussion about gay people. That is seriously sad. Seriously sad.

    • CliveM

      Tell me………. Sigh :0(

    • The Explorer

      I hope you’ve noticed who started that particular discussion in this instance.

  • Mary

    Your Grace, have your powers of perceptiveness briefly departed or have you perhaps been supplanted by one of the Bullybent minions? Don’t let the Bishop’s superficial charm fool you. Instead, dig deeper. Consider from history and psychiatry how power-craving personalities create for themselves positions of authority without accountability, transparency, virtue or any real Christian values. From the French Revolution onwards, the enforcement of Utopian ideals paves the road to tyranny. Understand what the Bishop’s ‘Eliminate the Rest’ mantra really means. Then talk to whoever is left of the congregation at All Saints Church in Ealing and ask how their wonderful little church has been decimated by his malevolent plan. Diocese henchmen and women, and a Koreshian wife and husband team ‘planted’ in the church, reveal slowly their Year Zero intentions as they chant “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” This pleasant little community church has become overwhelmed by a small group of deceitful, cultish, bullying hypocrites bent on manipulating the vulnerable and the gullible, while the rest walk away, thoroughly disillusioned by the Church of England.
    Read the recent Church Times articles (17 and 24 April) to understand why the Bishop is so keen to misrepresent and ‘round on’ Hart and Woodhead’s well-evidenced and thoughtful papers. Then observe how the Bishop can only baffle us with ambiguous incoherent rhetoric. Read Hart’s conclusion that ‘From Anecdote to Evidence (the Bishop’s polemic) systematically misrepresents or misinterprets..’. Read Woodhead’s assessment of how these neo-puritans are marginalising so much that is good about the Church of England. Understand the Bishop’s contempt for Laity as irrelevant volunteers to be ‘rotated’ as frequently as possible. Or read his ‘Planting’ proposals and then watch ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. And feel his awkwardness as ‘Rev’strikes a nerve.
    I ask your Grace: are you not the same blog-entity that once stated ‘Pete is a judgmental bishop, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those whom he hates?’ Now he seeks to punish the reasonable thoughtful people who so quickly see through him. You were on-the-money then. What changed?

    • Sad

      Dear Mary
      Thank you for articulating so beautifully what is happening to our wonderful church. I am one of those ‘irrelevant volunteers’. For many years I’ve done anything and everything to support it. I’ve given money and I’ve raised money. My joy has been to assist the church. All that has changed because of the situation you describe. I think I already had ‘a significant grasp of what it means to be a Christian’. For me it has a lot to do with compassion, tolerance and love. I don’t see that in our church leadership or in the way that the situation has been dealt with, so I am also one of those walking away.
      How ironic that those discussing how to grow the church are destroying one in their own back yard.

      • Julie

        Dear Sad and Mary

        I couldn’t agree more – the decimation of All Saints Church
        is shocking.

  • JohnSidebottom

    People at our church have been talking about the All Saints situation. Some have prayed for them. All Saints had a great little community and were so welcoming when the Derbyshire plants arrived. Then PCC members were picked-off one-by-one. Apparently, when the churchwardens raised concerns, Bishop Broadbent pretty much laughed in their face. He really revealed his full contempt for non-evangelicals. He berated the churchwarden in a reply-to-all email, which some copied on. This was after concerns were raised about the plants’ treatment of children at the youth group. PCC parents withdrew their children from their own youth group! One of the churchwardens wrote a letter to Chartres, with personal statements, but past history suggests the Bishop of London will sit on it. The irony is that Welby pontificates about governance and accountability in the private sector while being oblivious to the true nature of his own organisation, particularly the Willesden Diocese. Instead Welby emboldens Broadbent and the toxic plants by preaching about violent revolution and not liking nice people. “Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we were all a bit nicer?” Actually, Archbishop Justin Welby, yes, it would be a nicer place.

    • Natalie

      In Bishop Broadbent’s email of 24 April, now in the public domain, because he copied 25 people, he was keen to focus on the churchwarden’s key failing: his spelling. Bishop Broadbent wrote to the churchwarden “The email from Henryk Marszalek (I notice that you can’t even call him by his name, and you still can’t spell the Rachel’s name correctly in your email address list) asks a list of questions which I hope will be answered by your enquiries.” Let’s ignore for a minute the Bishop’s own grammatical failings and return to how the churchwarden was clearly guilty of not being posh, unlike Broadbent, who is a product of Merchant Taylors’ School, then Cambridge University and St. John’s Nottingham; all elitist institutions that belie the Bishop’s carefully cultivate man-of-the-people persona. If anyone reading this is concerned they might commit the same heinous spelling crime, the name is spelt Marszalek.
      Now, repeat after me, a hundred times, M-A-R-S-Z-A-L-E-K.

      • George

        The Derbyshire plants may be a metaphorical variety of Aconitum, also known as monkshood, wolf’s bane, devil’s helmet and Queen of all Poisons. Aconitum is a flowering plant belonging to the family Ranunculaceae. Aconitum contains the alkaloid poison aconitine, which disables nerves, lowers blood pressure, and can stop the heart. Even casual skin contact should be avoided; symptoms include numbness, tingling, and cardiac irregularity. If ingested, the plant usually causes burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth, followed by vomiting and nervous excitement. Aconitum is a quick-acting poison that is extremely poisonous and must be dealt with carefully.

        In Metamorphoses, Ovid tells how the herb comes from the slavering mouth of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of Hell. Symptoms of aconite poisoning in humans are similar to those of rabies: frothy saliva, impaired vision, vertigo, and finally a coma. Thus, it is possible that some ancient Greeks would have believed that this poison, mythically born of Cerberus’s lips, was literally the same as that to be found inside the mouth of a rabid dog.