Church of England

Church of England moves toward episcopal theological quotas


For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?” asks St Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth. And that very scripture comes to mind in consideration of a curious press release from the Church of England relating to the Suffragan See of Maidstone, a vacancy which appears to be barred to female applicants:

Suffragan See of Maidstone

At its meeting on 4 December the Dioceses Commission unanimously agreed with a proposal received from the Archbishop of Canterbury to fill the vacant see of Maidstone. The see, which had been vacant since 2009, had been identified by the Archbishop as one that should be filled by a bishop who takes a conservative evangelical view on headship.

This flows from the public commitment given by the Archbishops and the House of Bishops, in the run up to the final approval by the General Synod of the legislation to allow women to be admitted to the episcopate in July 2014 (see paragraph 30 of House of Bishops Declaration and the Archbishops’ note of June 2013- GS Misc 1079).
In agreeing with the proposal to fill the see the Commission was conscious of the needs of the national church for a member of the College of Bishops to be able to act as an advocate for those who hold a conservative position on headship.

It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.

While available to take his place in the Foundation of Canterbury Cathedral, the Commission understood that – given his potentially wide geographical remit – the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.

The necessary steps to make the appointment will now begin.


Notes for Editors

• Part of the normal statutory process for filling suffragan sees is for the Dioceses Commission to consider, on behalf of the national church, whether to agree to a proposal from a diocesan bishop to fill such a see.

• Suffragan sees are normally filled within a short time frame but the See of Maidstone was left vacant following a diocesan decision to appoint an additional archdeacon.

• This conservative evangelical view on headship is summarised on pp 149-151 of Women Bishops in the Church of England? The Report of the House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women In the Episcopate 2004 [GS 1557]. See:

• The House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests of 19 May 2014 [GS Misc 1076], which includes the five guiding principles can be read in full at:

A curious episcopal model is emerging in the Church of England, in which episcopal unity gives way to representative proportionality: if +Buckingham is liberal, Maidstone must be conservative; if ++Canterbury is white, ++York ought to be black, and so on. We can see where identity quotas are ultimately leading, of course: if ++York is male, ++Canterbury must be female. And Lord knows where minority sexualities will need to fit in. Theological unity becomes subordinate to ecclesial expedience. Orthodoxy gives way to pluralism and relativism.

But this press release raises more than a few questions. Precisely how conservative and evangelical will the Bishop of Maidstone be permitted to be, for are there not spectrums of conservatism and evangelicalism? Is not the evangelical view the biblical view? Will the Bishop of Maidstone be permitted to foster vocations from those who refute the possibility that women may be bishops or even that priestly headship may be female? May he, for example, be a member of Reform, which holds “the divine order of male headship, which makes the headship of women as priests in charge, incumbents, dignitaries and bishops inappropriate”? Who will preside at his installation? Would he accept ordination by a bishop who ordains women? And where will he find the time not only to minister in Maidstone but effectively to function as an assistant bishop of every diocese that calls on him?

While the media is fixated on who will become the Church of England’s first woman bishop, this appointment is actually rather more interesting, for the potential of this post to become a corporeal symbol of spiritual disunity is considerable: For when one says, “I follow Buckingham,” and another, “I follow Maidstone,” are you not mere human beings?” And when one says, “I follow Francis,” and another, “I follow Benedict,” are you not in exactly the same boat?

  • scottspeig

    Is this not your “via media” and your “broad church” in action though? For if the liberal / evangelical quota is not met, one or the other will surely leave?? Personally, I think a divided church would be good, as one will wither and die. The other will flourish.

    • Mike Stallard

      ” I think a divided church would be good, as one will wither and die.”
      Take a look at your own local Anglican Church…

  • Tom

    I think I’m more concerned with the subordinationism of Reform than the views on headship! At least the fact that that the Son is not subordinate to the Father is long established orthodoxy – between the Ecumenical Councils (Chalcedon, Constantinople, Nicea…) somewhat settled that one.

  • Busy Mum

    “the bishop would not otherwise be expected to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.”

    I interpret that as “the conservative evangelical bishop is not really welcome to participate in the life of the Diocese of Canterbury.”

  • How many conservative evangelical bishops are there – in the church of England ? And how many would there be in proportion to church membership ? Anyone know ?

    • Albert

      I wouldn’t have thought there are any genuinely conservative evangelical bishops.

      • Shadrach Fire

        There was one. Michael Nazir Alli. He was very evangelical Bishop of Rochester. He resigned as a result of an earlier Arch Bishops talk of Sharia Law and Finance.

        • Albert

          Interesting, I wouldn’t have thought of Nazir Ali as a conservative evangelical. I tend to think of him as being a bit more catholic than that. I may be wrong, but he is certainly one of the CofE bishops I most admire.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I agree with Albert – he wasn’t a conservative evangelical.

    • Dominic Stockford

      None. Nazir-Ali was close, and a couple of suffragans too. But none in it now.

  • Albert

    Isn’t this basically a good thing? One of the problems of the CofE over the years has been that, in each diocese, in order not to upset people, bishops have been chosen because they don’t believe too much, and therefore won’t upset anyone. The result has been heresy and schism within the CofE and no one outside the CofE really taking any notice of the CofE:

    James Hacker: Humphrey, what’s a Modernist in the Church of England?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah, well, the word “Modernist” is code for non-believer.

    James Hacker: You mean an atheist?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, Prime Minister. An atheist clergyman couldn’t continue to draw his stipend. So, when they stop believing in God, they call themselves “Modernists”.

    James Hacker: How could the Church of England suggest an atheist as Bishop of Bury St Edmunds?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, very easily. The Church of England is primarily a social organization, not a religious one.

    James Hacker: Is it?

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Oh yes. It’s part of the rich social fabric of this country. So bishops need to be the sorts of chaps who speak properly and know which knife and fork to use. The sort of people one can look up to.

    Hacker:Is there anyone in the church who doesn’t believe in God?

    Humphrey: Yes, most of the Bishops.

    I would have thought anything that stops this kind of nonsense would be a good thing. Anyway, there has long been a kind of tradition of Archbishops of Canterbury coming from alternative wings etc.

  • Nigel Atkinson

    Tom, the Son is not subordinate to the Father but He came to do His Father’s will

    • Father and Son are co-eternal and equal – One, with one mind and one Will. The plan of salvation was determined before time. God doesn’t negotiate with Himself. In His humanity Jesus, the man, submitted His human will to His Divine will.

      • Nigel Atkinson

        Not sure you can split Jesus into two in such a neat fashion…

        • Two natures, two wills, God and man – in one person.

          • Nigel Atkinson

            So the one God-Man (the Son) was not suborinate to the Father but he came to do the Father’s will in submission to Him

          • Jesus was subordinate in His human will to His Divine will. His human will submitted to God. He and the Father are One. His Divine will is God’s will.

            It all gets too complicated for Jack thereafter.

          • Little Black Censored

            Is the crosier a hint that you are the next Bishop of Maidstone?

  • carl jacobs

    A token conservative bishop won’t be enough to save the CoE. He won’t be able to to stop the severe shift towards heterodoxy that will attend the advent of women bishops. The purpose of such a bishop is manifestly to keep conservatives onside in the presence of such changes. So either his conservative credentials will be in doubt or he will have to sacrifice them for the sake of selling unity. Either way, he won’t be able to stem the exodus when the CoE wades into the murky waters of full-throated liberalism.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And what will he do when he is invited to go to a liberal or High Church parish and to lead a service which he regards as heretical (see 39 articles)?

  • carl jacobs

    Theological unity becomes subordinate to ecclesial expedience. Orthodoxy gives way to pluralism and relativism.

    This isn’t an emerging mould. This is the very theological center of the CoE and has been for decades. There is nothing at the center of the CoE but ecclesial expedience. That’s why it is in such a state of ruin. If this wasn’t already the case, it would have long since driven the Liberals out of the camp.

  • CliveM

    I can’t say I am surprised. Indeed I believed this was the agreed outcome. If this wasn’t happening, would it not be breaking with the spirit and terms of the Synods decision?

    In some ways this must be good, hopefully their will now be an acknowledgement that their needs to be a conservative, evangelical Bishop. Something that seemed previously to be as rare as hens teeth.

    • carl jacobs

      Before he died last February, the Ugly Vicar repeatedly said that the last Conservative Evangelical bishop had been appointed in the early 90s. His testimony at the time of his death was that there were no conservative evangelical bishops. That is why Welby is so determined to appoint one. That Bishop becomes a living testimony to the fact that conservative evangelicals (and their money, and their kids, and their growth, and did I mention their money) still have a valued place in the CoE. With emphasis on valued

      • CliveM

        Thanks for this. I’m not sure your last sentence is entirely fair! Interestingly I wonder if their will be others appointed over the woman Bishops agreement. Might go from famine to feast?

        • carl jacobs

          Reform demanded twelve. They will be lucky to get one legitimate suffragan. And will he ever be replaced? The dynamics of membership loss will not be affected by this bishop. As Reform departs, the incentive to keep such a bishop declines. And Reform will depart. This cannot be overstated. One conservative bishop is not going to balance the severe shift that will occur as more and more women are made bishops. The Theological changes that attend will drive the exodus.

          Remember it’s not just Reform. It’s the Theological balance of power. Those conservatives who have made peace with women’s ordination still need allies. Welby is worried that he could lose the entire conservative spectrum. But he’s all in holding a seven-three off suit with aces on the flop. When HTB ends up in the same position over homosexuality as Reform did over WO, it’s all over. And with Women Bishops storming the castle, how will that outcome be prevented?

          • CliveM

            Having read your post, I tried hard to think of a response that in some way was able to reject your conclusions and sadly in all honesty I was unable to do so. Unless something changes that shifts the centre of gravity back to the traditionalists in the CofE and I can’t envisage what that could be, I feel what you predict will happen.

          • Mike Stallard

            Think – quickly – of all the great Evangelical preachers you have ever heard of.
            Martin Luther King, John Wesley, Lancelot Andrewes…
            Now look at the current Evangelical Preachers on the TV Religious Channels.
            Even the Muslim Preachers…
            What do they all have in common?

          • CliveM

            Unfortunately I don’t watch TV Preachers (certainly never Muslim ones) so sorry I don’t know!!

          • carl jacobs

            Your mistake is to assume that TV and Christianity have some connection to each other.

          • Pubcrawler

            At a guess, me being as ignorant of TV evangelists and Saracen preachers as the rest, would it be that they are all male?

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, most of the men’s wives also join in.

          • Dominic Stockford

            could the change be the Holy Spirit, who goes wherever he wills?

          • CliveM

            Yes. I was thinking in overly earthly terms. The Holy Spirit could produce change, if people are willing to let it.

          • Little Black Censored

            But he’s all in holding a seven-three offsuit with aces on the flop.
            Things are evidently even worse than I feared.

      • Demon Teddy Bear

        I suspect the 0% presence was becoming awkward to the timeservers at the top. After all, how can you predict what they’ll do if you don’t know any? And the scandal was beginning to smell.

        And the money.

  • This is really just the worst sort of tokenism. A scrap is being thrown to the evangelicals to keep them nice and quiet when the first woman ‘Bishop’ is appointed.
    Surely the time has come for Bible-believing Christians to leave the asylum to the lunatics and come out?
    ‘For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever…………Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty”‘ (2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17-18).

    • Mike Stallard

      Now I am outside the CofE, I notice that the three Churches here which are thriving are the Catholic, the Baptist and the “Free” Church. The dear old Parish Churches are, almost without exception, empty, cold and run as museums by people over 80.

      • Demon Teddy Bear

        But then that’s what the political establishment like. Just as Charles II’s ministers didn’t care a bit about empty churches.

      • Albert

        Even as a Catholic, I feel sad about that. Is it me, or has the collapse of the CofE coincided with the rise of the ordination of women?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Martin Lloyd Jones said as much back in the 60’s, but the ‘saintly’ John Stott said no – and no-one did. MLJ was right then.

  • Can somebody explain this to Jack, please?

    “It made its decision on the understanding that the bishop would foster vocations from those taking this position; that he would undertake episcopal ministry (with the agreement of the relevant diocesan bishop) in dioceses in both Provinces where PCCs have passed the requisite resolution under the House of Bishops’ declaration; and that he would be available to act (again by invitation) as an assistant bishop in a number of dioceses.”

    What are Provinces and PCC’S?

    Is this creating a separate, nationwide See within the Church of England for traditionalists?

    • Uncle Brian

      Canterbury and York are the two provinces, each headed by an archbishop.
      PCCs are Parish (or Parochial) Church Councils.
      Now I have one for you: What is “headship” in the C of E context? I googled for it but couldn’t find a definition.

      • Uncle Brian, thank you for that.
        Here’s an article on the question of Headship.

        For conservative evangelicals, it seems to boil down to Saint Paul’s writings that men are to be the head of women i.e. that only men can have leadership and authority in the Church.

        “There is an order in the spiritual universe which can be expressed in terms of ‘headship’ as follows: God the Father is the head of the Son, the Son is the head of man, and man is the head of woman.”

        • Uncle Brian

          I see! So it’s the C of E, at the highest level (bar the Queen), explicitly endorsing Pauline patriarchal sexist machismo! Now I understand why they’re wriggling and squirming like that. It’s
          unbearably embarrassing for them to be spotted doing anything that is ever so slightly unfashionable.

          • “Pauline patriarchal sexist machismo”.
            Hah … you are such a modernist, reconstructionist, Brian. The Bishop of Buckingham would be proud of you.

        • Dominic Stockford

          You forget Genesis 1 and 3, and many other texts too.

          • They are all referenced in the posted article.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Ah, thank you.

    • len

      No idea…….. (and I suspect no one else has any idea)

  • len

    All seems very political to me.. The bottom line should be get out and preach the Gospel…’Just do it’ (to coin a phrase)

    • Mike Stallard

      Well, actually women cannot do this.
      No, it is the truth.
      Women cannot walk around at night alone in an inner city.
      Women left alone in a large lonely Church can be assaulted like the Curate was here.
      Women cannot just go round cold calling on a rough estate. (It used to be called “visiting”.)
      Women certainly cannot do a John Wesley.

      Certain women, of course, can, but the great majority find it much safer to stay in their capacious Vicarage filling in that important paperwork and arranging a service for the kiddies full of spelling mistakes.

      • Inspector General

        Man has an inbuilt ability to switch off when a woman preaches, don’t you find. A blessing really, when it comes to it…

        • Uncle Brian

          Speaking for myself, Inspector, I have never had any difficulty switching off when it’s a man preaching. One of the easiest things in the world. All too easy, some might say.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I also find I have an inbuilt ability to stand up and walk when such a thing happens – though I make every effort not to find myself in such a noisome situation.

      • len

        Sounds patronising. Ever heard of

        Jackie Pullinger?.Take a look at what one woman can do

        • Mike Stallard

          Certain women of course, can and will behave as freely in dangerous circumstances as men can. Most cannot.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Pomposity. That’s what all this is.
    Can a house that is divided stand?

  • Inspector General

    Makes sense. Maidstone is a small c conservative area. Can’t remember who said it, but didn’t one of the apostles say “Choose your priests from amongst your community”. Sage words, them.

    One supposes now the liberal modernisers have had their way, it’s going to be difficult to hold the new improved formula, washes whiter, Church of England together. Such pragmatism is what we’ll see more of in future, so congratulations to ++Canterbury for going that way.

    Of course, he’s not going to get a free ride. He’ll be badgered by would-be lady bishops for his discriminatory and sexist policy, but only in the name of ‘unity’ you understand. The ladies will tell you that straight away. “We are opposing our archbishop purely in the name of unity”, they will gush.

    Do keep us informed on this one, Cranmer, dear fellow. If you could identify the chief protagonists, who of course, will only be acting in the name of unity. And also who the first will be to ask for ‘a period of healing’, also in the name of unity. If the latter is to be Welby, then here’s a tip for him – appoint the man and then call for a period of healing. Try and keep a straight face when you say it, no turning to the side and grinning – otherwise you will infuriate the feminists further,
    guaranteed !!

    • dannybhoy

      “Can’t remember who said it, but didn’t one of the apostles say “Choose
      your priests from amongst your community”. Sage words, them.”
      Did you mean this?

      Acts 1

      “21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

      or this?

      Acts 3
      6 “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And
      the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is
      not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve
      tables. 3 Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”

      • Inspector General

        You certainly know the good book Danny…

        • dannybhoy

          “You certainly know the good book Danny…”

          Sage words, them.. 🙂

  • Inspector General

    By the way, chaps, something relevant you might not know about. Word on the street in this town has it that Gloucester will be the first to have a woman bishop, God help us. The see is vacant, you see..

    So, that’s washing hanging from the cathedral high alter and a general smell of cats piss around the place, Oh yes, that medieval arch will have to go. That kind of thing…

    • dannybhoy

      If God has called the Church of England to be an equal opportunities employer, there is nothing to be done lest we find ourselves fighting against God….
      I like my vicar, He’s a nice and genuine man. I like our curate because she loves God and wants to serve Him.
      But I am not sure I will be able to continue in this hollowed out mockery of a Christian denomination.
      I expect we shall have to return to our roots in a non conformist congregation..

      • Mike Stallard

        In 1989, I left my lovely Church and loyal Congregation to join the Catholic Church. Archbishop Spong had gone against everything St Paul advised: A divorcee, a woman was consecrated a Bishop. What right had he to do that? Was he really more authoritative than St Paul? Oh yes – I almost forget – it was OK because she was an Afro-American.
        I love being a Catholic. It has not been easy for either me or my wife and family. But God has looked after us well. Best decision I ever made.

        • dannybhoy

          I am reminded of the late great Malcolm Muggeridge, now numbered amongst the redeemed in Heaven.
          He came to faith and joined the Catholic Church
          (Jesus Rediscovered)

          I liked him, especially because my own dear Father came to faith about eighteen months before his death from cancer.
          In fact, the man who led him to faith was instrumental in leading me to faith a couple of years later.
          Then of course there’s Happy Jack. A good man, a true Christian.
          My own belief is that God is not, CANNOT be confined to denominations. He is above and beyond all that old nonsense. The Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ needs no embellishments, no traditions even.
          Because our Lord and the Holy Spirit work together in seeking out those who are searching and through the active cooperation of the saints in prayer are able to prepare the heart for revelation, conviction and conversion.
          Really unless the Lord tells us otherwise (as I think He is with my wife and I,) you go where the Life is, those streams of water in the desert. We are watered, we are fed, and then we go forth in the anointing of the Holy Spirit to bring others into the Kingdom.

          • Inspector General

            You’re absolutely right on the denominations, Danny. One has never really had much time for the mechanics of faith that lie therein and divide. Unfortunately, such is man’s limitations and weaknesses, they’re here to stay. Not that the Inspector is even immune himself. He feels that the RCs do it a little bit better than the rest, so he’s as much as a hopeless case as the rest of us…

          • There will be no denominations in heaven; of that we may be sure. In this world there will inevitably be divisions over baptism, charismatic ‘gifts,’ church government and so forth but these should not prevent brotherly love amongst the churches (Romans 14:1-12). However,
            Salvation is by grace through faith, and that faith must be in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12 etc.). Therefore
            If your confidence is in your baptism
            Or the antiquity or prestige of your denomination
            Or your good works
            Or the intercession of the Virgin Mary
            Or your confession to a priest
            Or miracles, speaking in tongues
            Or anything else you can think of other than Christ
            Then you are on shaky ground.

          • Albert

            As a Catholic, my confidence is in the Lord Jesus Christ, in his blood, in his Holy Spirit, and in his promises.

          • All will be Catholic in Heaven …. even those Catholics who manage to get there.

          • CliveM

            There will be no divisions and labels will be redundant. We will be one at last.

          • Exactly …. Catholic – Kαθολικισμός – Katholikismos – Catholicus.

            As Ignatius of Antioch wrote in 107 to the Church in Smyrna, calling them to remain united with their Bishop:
            “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

          • CliveM

            No labels. We will just be Gods people. Even terms like Christian will be redundant.

          • You do know what the word means?

          • CliveM

            Universal, the whole.

            My point isn’t that Catholic isn’t a good describer from our position today of what Heaven will be, just that in heaven describers won’t be necessary.

          • Well, it suits Jack.

          • Catholic church certainly. But that is not at all the same thing as the Church of Rome. To usurp the name of something is not to merit it.
            As for Ignatius of Antioch and your confidence in him, methinks Mark 7:6-8 applies. Follow the word of God not the word of bishops.

          • “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.””
            The very thing Ignatius was warning about.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Antioch must have been very overcrowded with all those saints coming from there…

          • Uncle Brian

            We have St Paul on our side, Danny (and Inspector)..

            ‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved’ (Rom 10.9)

            God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim 2.4)

          • dannybhoy

            “God wants all men to be saved (1 Tim 2.4)”

            A theme with its origins in the Old Testament of course…

            “21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

            31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
            Ezekiel 18. There are other places too

            I’m not saying that this is cast in stone, but I have always wondered about the part played by sincere believers in praying for those with whom they have shared the Gospel. Likewise with Revival. This country has witnessed I don’t know how many major revivals and localised ones.

            It seems to me that God values the sincere, heartfelt and compassionate prayers of His children in preparing a heart for salvation.
            2 Chronicles 7:14
            14 “If my people who are called by my name humble
            themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

            I think salvation comes through revelation.
            In my own case it was God through the Holy Spirit finally breaking through my pride and showing me my hypocrisy.

          • Brian, ” … you will be saved” future tense.

          • Of course God is not denominational. Jesus however, now He is a Roman Catholic.

          • dannybhoy

            Does He know this Jack, or is this another one of your Assumptions?

          • Very good.
            Mary is a Catholic too, of course.

          • dannybhoy

            You got all the big stars doncha, Jack..

          • The Apostles too …. apart from Judas who was the very first apostate.

          • dannybhoy

            I mighta heard his name mentioned in our church a few times..
            In a non judgmental way of course..
            So er, just to be sure I’m hearing this right…
            There ain’t no skelentens locked away in that there Vatican….

          • Jack is sworn to secrecy and, now there is a vacancy for heading up the Swiss Guard, is on his best behaviour.

          • dannybhoy

            You’re a good man Jack. I like your humour.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            No, God is Anglican…I think you will find I am right

          • Would that be high or low Anglican? Conservative evangelical or liberal evangelical? Calvinist or Armenian? Reconstructed or unreconstructed?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I think Latitudinarian…

          • Hmmm …. ‘Broad Church’; some might that ‘Cafeteria Anglicanism’. Jack doesn’t believe God is indifferent to doctrine, liturgy or ecclesiastical organisation.

        • Albert

          And so say all of us. (Well, those of us who have been blessed with making the same journey, anyway!)

        • John Waller

          Always mystifying to me when, in protest against a woman being a bishop, someone chooses to join the Church which actively worships a woman.and has exalted her above Christ Himself.

          • Mike Stallard

            I cannot let that one go! When I was still a Protestant, I saw God as a majestic, frankly rather distant Creator and Sustainer clothed with magnificent English Prose.
            Now, I worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, The Mother of Jesus, St Peter, St Paul and all the Saints and, yes, even a few of us ordinary mortals too are all welcomed at the Heavenly Court. A huge crowd of friendly and, yes, loving family.

          • Pubcrawler

            You worship all of those listed? You might want to rephrase that before the Inquisition comes knocking.

          • Ahem …. we only worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. A slip of the finger on the keyboard.

          • CliveM

            Out of the mouths of babes etc!

          • He’s only a relatively recent convert from Anglicanism. Sub-consciously, there may have traces of old prejudices that inadvertently surface.

            Give the good man another 25 years and this will all be behind him. He has a lot of catching up to do with (pre-Vatican II) ‘cradle Catholics’.

          • dannybhoy

            You really really need Happy Jack to guide you in your pilgrimage through the mysteries of the (Catholic) religion.
            You may have to build a shed for him, but it will be worth it..

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Dear dear Mike, do take some time to lie down in a darkened room. All this worshipping must be taking its toll. Remember God is an English gentleman and you won’t go far wrong. Now, if you will excuse me, it is time for my restorative glass of sloe gin.

          • magnolia

            Rather unfair on the great Anglican writers, when you consider all the prose, verse, sometimes hymns which so ably stress both the immanence and transcendence of God from early times up to Kendrick and modern hymn writers.

            There is no lack of Anglicans enjoying a personal relationship with the Almighty and knowing his presence day by day in their lives.

            Maybe you missed out on the richness and breadth of the Anglican tradition, And as Herbert would say “stayed your eye” on the surface of the glass, the form, failing to look through it to the content “and then the heaven’s espy”.

          • One presumes you are a bible believing protestant and so will know bearing false witness is a serious sin. With that in mind, can you show evidence to substantiate this claim?

          • Old Nick

            Do you not know the difference between latreia and proskynesis ?

          • John Waller

            Do you think your average Roman Catholic does?

          • Old Nick

            Yes, maybe not in Greek, but everytime he says Ora pro nobis peccatoribus rather than salva me !

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Why can’t these women join the Methodists? No problem with a female ministry there…why do they have to overthrow centuries of tradition…is it really all about pretty frocks?

      • Perchance, they are kicking against the pricks.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Isn’t that what Derek Jarman did?

  • Mike Stallard

    What is a Bishop actually for in the Church of England?

    • dannybhoy

      Synods. Attending events, Keeping the peace.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Big banquets…

        • dannybhoy

          Shaking hands, ecclesiastical gurning, crosier tossing…

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester


  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Don’t worry, your grace: he’ll really be a liberal, there as a judas goat.

  • Linus

    Well this is all highly satisfactory.

    Threats of schism, trads flouncing out like outraged empresses, rumors of a feminist cabal plotting the downfall of Maidstone’s answer to John Knox. Open warfare in the pews with Welby rushing about like a well-meaning choirboy crying “oh pleeeathe be nithe to each other!”

    Really, what more could a gay secularist ask for?

    • To receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, turn his life around … and lose the attitude, perhaps?

    • Linus, can this be true? You are French?

      If so, Happy Jack is deeply troubled. How can a French man … is this term still permissible in a world that does not accept objective gender definitions, … how can a French male be homosexual?

      Aidez-moi ! Quel désastre ! French women present Jack with what his Church calls “a near occasion of sin” and he does his best to avoid their close company and if it is unavoidable ensures it is always in public and, ideally, has his wife or a chaperone present at all times.

      Mais je te jure que c’est vrai !

      Happy Jack now better understands your pain and bitterness.

      • Linus

        I’ve often wondered how the English pair off at all. There’s no obvious differentiation between the sexes. Both the men and the women are overweight, bulgy and covered in ginger stubble. They all smell of beer and chip fat, so it can’t be down to pheromones.

        In any case, here in France men look like men and women look like women. That’s how French gays know who to be attracted to. I’m assuming the English have to take more of a “suck it and see” approach…

        • “Both the men and the women are overweight, bulgy and covered in ginger stubble. They all smell of beer and chip fat …. .”

          Well if you will go out and about on Friday nights in town centres. And you were beginning to get on so well with Danjo too. He will be disappointed at such a rebuff.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Goodness! Moi Foi et sacre bleu….a broadside from the French indeed! You neglect to mention the overriding smell of garlic and hairy feminine armpits that is de rigeur amongst the boulevardiers…as for sucking and seeing, you have captured the interest of Mr Slope and no mistake. Could be your lucky night…

          • Linus

            Garlic has a lovely fragrance. It’s certainly preferable to rancid chip fat.

            Women’s armpits I cannot comment on as they hold no interest for me. Although apparently they fascinate the English. Both men and women. Perhaps it’s got something to do with their poor diet and the lack of sun. Their bodies remain eternally pre-pubescent and never fully develop adult secondary sexual characteristics, which is why they’re horrified when they go abroad and see them in others.

            That would certainly explain the pedophile scandals that sweep across your muddy and sunless isle with such disturbing regularity. When even adults resemble children, all sexual attraction is fraught with disastrous consequences.

            Ah well, for every hairy armpitted Parisienne, I give you 5 Jimmy Savilles. How’s that for a fair trade?

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            And I give you Crecy, Agincourt and Waterloo…

          • Linus

            While I throw in Hastings, La Rochelle, Orleans, Bordeaux … all battles that you’ve probably never heard of (apart from the first, perhaps) because the English rarely care to remember their defeats.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Goodness! You are a feisty one and no mistake, hopping about all over the place no doubt…well, Hastings was won by the Normans, whom I believe came from good Nordic Viking stock…Orleans….mmm bit of witchcraft helped there I think, Bordeaux, well maybe..but if you want to bring Normandy into play, shall we say 1944?

          • Linus

            Why 1944? Why not 1940? You know, when the British ran away at Dunkerque? Very Pythonesque…

            Brave Sir Robin ran away!
            Bravely ran away, away!
            When danger reared its ugly head,
            He bravely turned his tail and fled.
            Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about,
            And gallantly he chickened out.
            Bravely taking to his feet,
            He beat a very brave retreat.
            Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            But the point is we came back whilst Les Francais rolled over…but come now dear Linus, this is all very vexing…be a good little surrender monkey and have a hobnob

          • Linus

            Insult me in any way you like, but don’t offer me English food. Poison is a coward’s way to settle disputes.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Goodness! Insult you? No dear boy, I thought you were enjoying the happy badinage between old foes and was waiting for you to climb the battlements and call my mother a bilberry…a la John Cleese…No point in sending you hobnobs however, judging from your last comment. Ah me…our entente is not so cordial it seems…

          • Linus

            As I remember it, that scene from The Life of Brian shows the French defending a castle, not attacking it. It’s the English who try to scale French castle walls, not the other way round.

            There’s nothing of interest to us in an English castle, unless you’re a Norman and have a genetic predisposition towards brick and mud and pudding-shaped people who eat stodgy, foul-tasting food.

            The better (or worse) part of English history is made up of various failed attempts to storm French castles. Odd behavior for a race that so famously hates France and the French. But then jealousy does strange things to people, I suppose.

          • carl jacobs

            It was ‘Holy Grail.’

          • Linus

            I stand corrected, it was indeed The Holy Grail.

          • Probably comes from La Butte es Gros …….. given him a complex.

          • carl jacobs

            So, I guess the options are that Linus is:

            1. Really that historically illiterate.
            2. The victim of a myopic French education.
            3. Contemptibly trying to find some moral equivalence between French and British behavior in the war.

            I think I will choose option 3.

          • Linus

            1. History is written by the victors. Or in the case of the British, by those who hang off the coat-tails of the victors. The Allied story of the D-Day landings was written by Americans drunk on their own power and their sycophantic British gophers. We see things differently here.
            2. What, you mean myopic like the average Brit or American who speaks no language but his own and treats ketchup on his burger as one of his five a day?
            3. There is no moral equivalence between British and French behavior during the war. The French stood their ground and were defeated, occupied and tortured for 4 years. The British ran away, hid comfortably behind their moated walls and waited for the Americans to come and rescue them. And this makes them honorable and brave! No surprises though. Bruce Ismay was British, after all.

          • carl jacobs


            History is written by the victors.

            Is that why there are no French history books. And here I thought it was because English is the international language of academia.

            So if the victors write history then in this case that would mean the Germans wrote the history, wouldn’t it? Because they actually won the war against France. I distinctly remember from history about a Gov’t in Vichy being established. Lead by some guy named Petain – who was eventually tried and convicted in the stead of every Frenchman. It must be the Germans who are responsible for the common impression that the French ran away at the first shot.

            We see things differently here.

            Yes, laying on your back with your legs spread open will give you a different perspective on the Germans. Did you pause long enough to remove your underwear?

            you mean myopic like [blah blah blah] …

            No, I was actually referring to the idea that France actually contributed something to the war other than periodic outbreaks of gonorrhea.

            The French stood their ground and were defeated, occupied and tortured for 4 years.

            Is that what the French Army did at the Meuse? It stood it’s ground? It must be those damn Germans who taught me otherwise. And here all these years I thought that the Germans drove through the French to the channel and trapped the British at Dunkirk.

            The British ran away, hid comfortably behind their moated walls and waited for the Americans to come and rescue them.

            The British stood alone for a year and a half when there was no guarantee the Americans were coming. In so doing, they saved Western civilization. The French stood for all of six weeks. Except for Britain’s stand, Germany wins and you’d be a good little French Bundes this very day. Hitler would have established his 1000 year Reich.

            And this makes them honorable and brave!

            Yes, it does actually. And it reflects poorly on you that you don’t recognize it.

            No surprises though. Bruce Ismay was British, after all.

            Yes, so were the guys in the Engine room who kept the power on until one minute before the ship foundered. Do you actually know anything about that story, or are you just throwing out a name? Face your past. The Germans have. Perhaps France should begin.

          • Linus

            I know French history during the war and it’s a story of bravery and resistance in the face of overwhelming odds and abandonment by allies and fair-weather friends.

            When the Anglo-Saxon powers finally intervened it was for the sole purpose of defending their own interests. France was a convenient battlefield for them. Why fight on your own territory when you can destroy other people’s homes and livelihoods instead?

            I hope the appointment of the new bishop of Maidstone is a sign that the conservative element in British politics is building its strength and will carry the next general election and take you out of Europe. We’ll wave you a fond goodbye and even stand as character witnesses when you make your formal application for US statehood. Anything to get rid of you. Cuckoos in the nest have to leave sometime.

          • carl jacobs


            Heh. You think I am British. I assure you I am not.

            I know French history during the war..

            Perhaps you could give some evidence of this knowledge, because it has been sadly lacking to this point. You have heard of the River Meuse, haven’t you? You do actually know how the BEF and better part of the French Army got trapped at Dunkirk by French incompetence and cowardice.

            … and it’s a story of bravery and resistance..

            I think you are confusing France with Yugoslavia. The Germans actually had to station soldiers in Yugoslavia to fight. France was a vacation for the Wehrmacht – the mythical French resistance notwithstanding.

            Oh, I should ask. You were referring to the time after surrender, weren’t you? I just assumed since France offered no resistance at all before surrender.

            … in the face of overwhelming odds and abandonment by allies and fair-weather friends.

            Is that what you tell yourself at night in order to block out the truth? Overwhelming odds and abandonment? If France faced overwhelming odds, it was because of French unwillingness to act in time, French incompetence when it finally act, and French cowardice framing that action. And it was France that made a separate peace. France wasn’t abandoned. The British evacuated Dunkirk because they had no choice. Their position was untenable. The War in France was over by the end of May. All that remained for the Germans was forcing the inevitable French surrender. The war had been lost two weeks earlier when Rommel got his Panzers across the Meuse against almost no resistance whatsoever.

            Be thankful the British got that army back to Britain. It’s why Britain was able to stay in the war. It’s the only reason your worthless country was ever liberated.

          • Linus

            Au contraire, it’s been clear to me that you’re some form of colonial from the very beginning.

          • carl jacobs


            Au contraire, it’s been clear to me from the very beginning that you’re some form of colonial.

            Right. Because this is exactly what any reasonable person would say to someone he thinks isn’t British.

            I hope the appointment of the new bishop of Maidstone is a sign that the conservative element in British politics is building its strength and will carry the next general election and take you out of Europe. We’ll wave you a fond goodbye and even stand as character witnesses when you make your formal application for US statehood. Anything to get rid of you.

            When have I ever been a part of Europe that I should be taken out of it? Why should I require character references when I am already a citizen of the US? Why should you need to get rid of me when I am not a part of anything associated with you? And yet you say you knew I was not British. Your statement is palpable nonsense.

            Yes, I am an American – the son of a man who actually fought in France which is more than your ancestors could say. That must be a hard burden to carry. I pity you for it.

            As for the rest. When you have nothing substantial to say in response, it’s best not to say anything. If you make a response like you did, you do nothing but highlight that you have nothing substantial to say in response.

            Just my simplistic, jingoistic and xenophobic opinion.

          • CliveM


            Don’t give this clown the time of day. We all know the truth as does he. A nation of collaborators.
            Those who were not actively shipping out their Jews to death camps, or joining the various army units to fight for the Germans (who by the way we’re unhappy to receive them, for which they can’t be blamed) were enthusiastically doing their utmost to keep up German troop morale from a horizontal position.

            I think we will find Linus is fair haired.

            As far as leaving them in the lurch, well if they couldn’t be bothered dying for their cess pit of a country, why should anyone else?

            Anyway enough of this, leave him to his bitterness. He has lots to be bitter over, he is French .

          • carl jacobs


            Curious, isn’t it. I have focused tightly on French behavior during the war. The more tightly I have focused, the more abusive Linus has become. There is an obvious reason for that.

            But it’s also true that the conduct of a people 70 years ago is not determinative of conduct today. The problem is not that France is by nature a nation “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” – no matter how much I laughed at Mrs Proudie’s reference. The problem is that they won’t face the truth of what happened so many years ago.

            But you are correct. It’s time to let this go.

          • Linus

            You may be the son of a man who fought in France. But you didn’t fight anywhere. You limit your aggression to online attacks. So you’re not half the man you claim your father was, are you?

            I’m aware of children who are inordinately proud of their parents’ achievements. Basking in reflected glory and using it to beat up anyone their infantile brains perceive as inferior.

            “My daddy was big and strong and better than you and your daddy” is the basis of your adult identity, is it?

            Well, well. I see where all the hatred is coming from then. Never live up to his achievements, will you?

            Clearly not.

          • Come on now, Carl. Give the French a break. After all, they did win the French Revolutionary War … but, then again, they were fighting the French.

          • “History is written by the victors.”
            Is that why French history text books are full of blank pages?

          • carl jacobs

            One must of course remember that the British were at Dunkirk because of the heroic French resistance along the River Meuse. I mean, it took Rommel all of half a day to force a crossing. Must have been because of that heroic French battle cry.

            “Tanks in Arras. We are betrayed!”

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      A midnight mass with Mr Slope, perhaps?

    • A gay French secularist.
      A short life and a peaceful death with a last minute conversion?

      • dannybhoy

        Love it!

    • dannybhoy

      Let me tell you. I can flounce with the best of them..

  • Time: “Feminist Catholic nuns sometimes say that you should pour your energy into getting the Vatican to ordain women.”

    Mother Teresa: “That does not touch me.”

    Time: “What do you think of the feminist movement among nuns in the West?”

    Mother Teresa: “I think we should be more busy with our Lord than with all that, more busy with Jesus and proclaiming His Word. What a woman can give, no man can give. That is why God has created them separately. Nuns, women, any woman. Woman is created to be the heart of the family, the heart of love. If we miss that, we miss everything. They give that love in the family or they give it in service, that is what their creation is for.”

  • Dominic Stockford

    The CofE has been doomed ever since it failed to discipline those who failed to hold true protestant doctrine.

    • dannybhoy

      Jack’s bunch never had that problem… 🙂

      • Dominic Stockford

        That does make me laugh, thanks.

        • There’s Christian doctrine – Truth – that has to be preserved and protected by Church authority. How can there be “unity in diversity” when it comes to preserving core doctrinal truths and moral teachings against ‘dereconstruction’?

          And Jack is not gloating. The Catholic Church itself is having an internal struggle which has been running for over 50 years. Some are calling it the ‘Fourth Great Church Crisis’.

          • dannybhoy

            “protected by Church authority
            Is that what’s known as a euphemism*?


            All that we need for salvation and right doctrine is contained within the Scriptures.
            I believe there comes a point when theology becomes a sterile end in its self. The spiritual life is in the living not the dissecting.

          • Now you’re sounding like Pope Francis who said something very similar to the Patriarchs of Constantinople. Are you really a Jesuit on a secret mission?

            Ignatius of Antioch wrote in about 107 to Christians in Smyrna to remain closely united with their bishop:

            “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

            Church authority rests on its responsibility to convert people to Christ and to teach them scriptural truth as handed on from the Apostles in both written word and in oral form. The job is to help people’s salvation journey. To be a co-worker with the Holy Spirit. The Truth, necessary for salvation, is Divinely guarded – whatever machinations its leaders get up to, or whatever error and sin they commit.

          • Pubcrawler

            “Now you’re sounding like Pope Francis who said something very similar to the Patriarchs of Constantinople.”

            If that is a response to this:

            “I believe there comes a point when theology becomes a sterile end in its
            self. The spiritual life is in the living not the dissecting.”

            then it’s a bit rich on Francis’ part. Does he give advice to his grandmother about sucking eggs as well?

          • Lol …. Very good, Sir.

            In one of his off-the-cuff comments to reporters, the Pope pointed out union between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, ” … will never happen if left in the hands of the theologians, who cannot even agree on differences such as when to celebrate Easter.”

            The Patriarch probably wasn’t greatly impressed with the Pope but for different reasons. What isn’t too well known is that the Orthodox Church greatly treasure theology. They’re no so keen on what they see as the legalistic approach of the Catholic Church to sin and forgiveness and the sacraments. However, on the meat of our faith, they are very theologically minded.

          • dannybhoy


            You know from my perspective I see you having your cake and eating it too.
            You claim the Catholic Church is ‘The Special One’ anointed and charged with giving sound doctrine and teaching.
            Yet you cheerfully (perhaps in some cases, gloatingly) reveal the faults and failings of popes and all the hierarchy, the sexual abuse etc.
            Now I don’t see any difference between the reality of Catholicism as she is practiced and any other long established church or movement or denomination, do you?

          • Jack has never been cheerful about the failings of the Church – never. Far from it. He accepts it has a Divine calling but is an organisation with a human history, comprised of fallible and sinful people.

            And yes, Jack does see a difference between Catholicism, practised as it should be, and as taught by the Magisterium which has the Holy Spirit’s protection, and other denominations.

          • dannybhoy

            I just so disagree with you. I would say our Lord is Head of the Church..

          • Of course He is. Who would dispute this? However, until His return, He has placed the metaphorical “keys”, signifying His authority, in the hands of His Vicar and His Church.

          • dannybhoy

            there has to have been popes who just didn’t want the reponsibility???
            Not only that, but I seem to remember on another occasion you saying that the papal authority was responsible for the flock: so which is it?
            The Papacy or the Church?

          • No one is obligated to accept the Papacy. The Pope, the Bishops and the whole Church should be one. When they are, there isn’t an issue. On rare occasions they have been divided. Catholics are led by their local Bishops who will have unity with other Bishops throughout the world – all held together by the Papacy.

          • dannybhoy

            Well we non conformists do that by bible study, discussion and fellowship.
            No pointy ‘ats ,round ‘ats costumes or fancy walking sticks, no bowing to each other or kissing rings.
            Seems to work okay..

          • And yet you voice disapproval of the church you attend and have vicars round for lunch? And when ‘non conformists’ disagree, they set up new churches. Jack much prefers continuity. And the vestments and liturgical rituals symbolise externally what is happening inwardly.

          • dannybhoy

            Well of course, he’s a brother in Christ, and we have some laughs and poltical arguments, and he knows I struggle with the whole CofE thing anyway.
            Non conformists don’t set up new churches, they set up new expressions of the Church of which they are a part.
            The existence of the Church over the centuries in all its expressions is continuity Jack.

          • “The existence of the Church over the centuries in all its expressions is continuity Jack.”

            Since the time of Christ and the Apostles, Church history says otherwise, Danny. Some differences are divisions, a parting of the ways, not continuity.

          • dannybhoy

            I still think you’re wrong Jack.
            I would argue that the Holy Spirit has ensured that the whole church regardless of denomination has held to the Truth but there have been different vehicles, revivals and councils.
            If anything I might suggest that the Roman Catholic Church as the longest established denomination should set an example and be prepared to confess to the rest of the church where she has got it wrong.
            And she has, hasn’t she Jack, to the point of Inquisition and torture,

          • Now we’re just going around in circles, Danny.

            Let’s be clear on what Jack is saying. It is his belief that the Catholic Church can never get dogma, doctrine or moral teachings wrong. Why? God will not permit this. As Jack has repeatedly stated, its history is another matter. Its a human, flawed organisation. Jack is not going to justify the Inquisition. Nor is he, from a 21 century perspective, going to casually condemn all its past actions. The ‘Inquisition’ covers a vast period of history and is multifaceted.

          • dannybhoy

            ” It is his belief that the Catholic Church can never get dogma, doctrine
            or moral teachings wrong. Why? God will not permit this.”
            One could apply the same reasoning to the rest of the Church aka the Bride of Christ, Jack.I don’t see any authorative evidence that the Roman Catholic Church is the sole repository of God ordained doctrine..

            But enough! I agree this is going nowhere and i have no wish to offend a brother in Christ.
            On your way to those pearly gates, think kindly on me Jack…. 😉

          • Dominic Stockford

            Looking further down I find this astonishing statement:

            “Catholic Church can never get dogma, doctrine or moral teachings wrong. Why? God will not permit this.”

            So why did they decide that is was wrong to allow clergy to marry, and bring in clerical celibacy in the 11th century. That is clearly doctrine, and also a moral statement. But it has changed. And one or the other position has to be wrong.

            Just one example of hundreds.

          • Dominic, celibacy is a Church discipline and not a revealed dogma or doctrine. As such, it can be changed.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I think I must pass on your thoughts on celibacy to the local RC man – he will no doubt be delighted to know that it isn’t a moral teaching, and will go out and get himself a girl post haste…

          • Noooooooo ……….. he is forbidden to marry by his voluntary vows and sex outside of marriage is not permitted.

          • len


          • dannybhoy

            Truth is NOT invested an a person, but in the Godhead.
            That’s why He brought in Prophets to speak His words to the people.
            Because any sect or church or ecclesiastical administration eventually becomes hide bound and ceases to seek truth, but protecting the status quo…

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I too am having an internal struggle…it’s these stays…no more whalebone for me!

          • Stay away from all bones dear , Mrs Proudie.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I have followed that maxim for many years now…

          • Dominic Stockford

            I have the Bible, I find it contains everything profitable for teaching, and necessary for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, and that with it the man of God is complete, equipped for every good work. It is also remarkably clear and simple in what it says – no need for philosophy or ‘clever people’ to tell me (or others) what it says.

            The Church of Rome should try it.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Dear Dominic, well said! I have long been of this opinion and shudder at these latter-day contortions that pass for doctrine. I shall send you some hobnobs immediately, just the thing to keep body and soul together.

      • But Mrs Proudie, you said God was an Anglican Latitudinarian.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          And so He is…but a Protestant one, obviously. I think you’ll find I’m right

          • Then Jack will consult with Pope Francis about this to see what he has to say. One can phone him in emergencies. Mind you, Francis might well agree with you as he isn’t too keen on doctrine, liturgy or ecclesiastical power.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah but that would make you the Church of Latte Day Saints…

          • “Latte Day Catholics” – all froth and steam.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Or the Holy Cappuchino

          • It all comes down to size, Mrs Proudie. Long, tall Lattes and short, round Cappuccinos. Originally, it was all about whipping cream and adding spice. And, naturally, both are Germanic in origin.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Mr Slope would agree wholeheartedly with your first assertion…

      • Dominic Stockford

        Could you make that Custard Creams please, outre and terribly modernist I know, but my thing!

        • Now you’ve gone and done it …….

          • Dominic Stockford

            Sorry. But they are sooooooo nice.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Custard creams? GOODNESS! And ‘modernist’? URGH! I’ll have you know my hobnobs have sustained many a fellow on the field of battle and expeditions up the Orinoco …*sniff* But I suppose each to his own…we each have our own furrow to plough, as Mr Slope would say.

    • What is: “true protestant doctrine”?

      • Dominic Stockford

        The 5 solas, and the Doctrines of Grace

        • Then how can the Church of England “discipline” anyone given the individual latitude and freedom permitted by these doctrines?

          • Dominic Stockford

            ?! Latitude and freedom? let’s have a little look. Simply with a brief run through of some of the solas we can use discipline to chop out so many current CofE clergy that there would be a far better church left.

            1. Glory of God alone…
            That counts out the 17 per cent of the Anglican clergy who don’t actually believe God is a ‘person’. (a further 2% don’t believe in any sort of God at all, but that he is merely a human construct).
            2. Salvation through faith (in Christ) alone…
            that counts out the 40% (possibly including some of the above 17%, but given the bizarre facts here, it may not) who think that Christianity is merely one a various ‘paths to God’.
            3. Scripture alone (therefore the Bible as inerrant and inspired Word of God – as exposited in the 39 articles)…
            Struggling to get any figures for this, but of the 6 Anglican clergy in my town only one would possibly hold this. Which is probably why this is difficult to find out.
            4. Grace alone (salvation as a gift of God, utterly undeserved and unearned)…
            Again, this question has not been surveyed, but again, of the 6 Anglican clergy in my town we would be down to one.
            5. Salvation by Christ’s works alone…
            Will be a shockingly low number. Given their statements there would again be only one of the 6 in my town, but given their actions I am not even sure about the veracity of that.

            Using doctrinal discipline merely based on the 5 solas we would find Teddington had none (maybe one) of 6 Anglican clergy left. Of the 4 free church clergy things would be no better, I’d be on my own – but I’m the only one not in a denomination, so all the others could be disciplined doctrinally if the will was there.

          • Yes but isn’t each person free to read and understand scripture according to their own interpretation? These clergy you criticise may have seen through the homophobic, sexist and patriarchal prejudices of the culture that gave us scripture. Scripture is inerrant but has to be studied in context and we have to appreciate the authors, whilst inspired, were prisoners of the conceptual tools of their times. That’s what some say, anyway. Many of them are scholars too, you know. They have studied these things.

          • Dominic Stockford

            No, each person isn’t allowed to interpret them according to whatever they want them to mean. The entirety of the bible has a clear and unambiguous message, which plain reading, and the Holy Spirit, reveals to the believer. For instance, Romans 1 has only one clear and plain meaning – to re-interpret it to allow homosexual acts is pure abuse of God’s Word – no-one who does that can possibly take the ‘high view’ of Scripture that Scripture itself demands.

          • You’re so old fashioned, Dominic.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    My Lord the Bishop has decided (and I agree with him) that Barchester needs a suffragan, so with a flourish of the quill he has created the bishopric of Eiderdown and Stogpingum. We are looking to appoint a suitable cleric who can minister to Barset’s alternative folk – travellers, fallen women, bank clerks, whoopsies and Methodists, someone who can manhandle the odd Papist into mainstream Anglicanism. I do feel there are those amongst Archbishop Cranmer’s flock who could fit the bill. Perhaps we could even appoint a colonial person (particularly one with no understanding of British humour?). Well I leave it up to you…applications to be submitted in longhand on the back of twenty pound note…

    • Uncle Brian

      Dear, dear Mrs Proudie, may I suggest an addition to your list of those in need of special consideration, along with the whoopsies and bank clerks? I’m thinking of Ofsted inspectors. From what I’ve been reading recently on this very website, the poor old things have been cruelly abandoned to wander hither and thither like lost sheep in the wilderness, without a single kindly shepherd to point their noses in the direction of home.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Ah dear Uncle Brian, yes indeed. Ofsod folk are latter day pariahs and do need spiritual guidance of a decidedly Christian nature, especially after the Market Rasen nonsense.

  • SeekTruthFromFacts

    “And where will he find the time not only to minister in Maidstone but
    effectively to function as an assistant bishop of every diocese that
    calls on him?”

    He won’t minister in Maidstone, any more than the Bishop of Ebbsfleet is bound to minister on Kentish beaches.The Canterbury diocese is small enough (half a county!) that the Bishop of Dover can handle it, with Canterbury’s odd spare moments. This is a flying bishop appointment (by convention rather than by Act of Synod) and I don’t think there is any parish in Maidstone that is conservative enough to ask for oversight.

  • grutchyngfysch

    I grow increasingly of the view that it is a grave mistake to see any ecclesial institution as being essential to the Church Invincible. The more time that is spent labouring over providing a Christian structure, the less true to the Biblical principles set out for congregations that structure seems to become.

    So much of the CofE’s woes derive from its (in many senses worthily motivated) attempt to keep together disparate, culturally dissimilar, parts, many of which are diametrically opposite to one another theologically. It does this in the name of “unity” – and yet, as this post evinces, it is a curious sort of unity that basically means the opposite of “united”.

    In effect, it chokes out the space that might otherwise have been possible to allow for open-handed differences, and we end up at an edifice which, Babel-like, claws upwards in an attempt to join light with darkness. Congregations would be well advised to see to it they remain close to the ground – for they will be the only ones who will survive when it topples.