Church of England

Justin Welby is not a heretic, he’s a very faithful Anglican

In the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminster there is a list of Archbishops of Canterbury which chronicles the centuries of communion between the popes of Rome and the chief pastors of England, beginning with St Augustine and ending with Reginald Pole, the last Roman Catholic to hold the office. It is a sometime murky and muddled chronology of ecclesial history (who appointed whom; who received the Pallium from whom; who excommunicated whom; which pope maintained communion during the ‘antipope’ eras in the 11th century and the Western Schism of the 14th-15th centuries), but the name of Thomas Cranmer, who is last but one on the list, is dealt with emphatically and tersely: “deprived for heresy”, it reads.

Whether you consider his theology heretical and his ecclesiology void or believe both to be truthful and valid largely determines whether you believe he was lawfully executed for error or unjustly martyred for truth. What is undeniable, however, is that he was validly consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury according to the Roman rite, and subsequently departed from that religion through tortuous recantation and re-recantation believing he was doing God’s work and obeying His will. Roman Catholics today may honour his courage, but there is no veneration because he is no saint: Thomas Cranmer died a heretic, steeped in (if not damned by) the theological and soteriological errors of the Reformation.

Justin Welby is heir to Thomas Cranmer’s legacy. The present Archbishop of Canterbury may believe the Reformation to have been a great tragedy for the Church, but his reverence for his predecessor’s courage and sacrifice for truth is beyond question. Justin Welby’s archiepiscopal ministry was inaugurated on 21st March 2013, the day the Church of England remembers Thomas Cranmer, whose name prefaced the new Archbishop’s sermon in Canterbury Cathedral on that day. It included this observation:

The more the Church is authentically heeding Jesus’ call, leaving its securities, speaking and acting clearly and taking risks, the more the Church suffers. Thomas Cranmer faced death with Christ-given courage, leaving a legacy of worship, of holding to the truth of the gospel, on which we still draw.

On which we still draw… Justin Welby evidently holds to the truths for which Thomas Cranmer died, and so remains, according to the doctrine and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, a heretic.

Curious word, ‘heretic’ (Gr. αἱρετικός [hairetikos]). It came to mean factious, divisive or sectarian; a purveyor of half-truths and misimpressions to win people over to their misguided zeal, which is the sense it which it is used in Scripture:

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick (Gr. αἱρετικὸν) after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself (Titus 3:9-11).

This is the only time αἱρετικός appears in Scripture, and the KJV renders it ‘heretick’ (most other versions opt for ‘divisive man/person’). Yet the word stems from αἱρήσομαι (hairéomai), from the verb αἱρέω (haireó), meaning to choose or prefer; to lay hold of by personal choice; to hold a distinctive individual opinion. Heresy is therefore that which chooses to distort theology or exaggerate doctrine. A heretic may be one who fanatically stresses individual experience, or one who zealously emphasises rigid revelation, scripture or tradition. The former may lean too far in the direction of accommodating theology to the mood of the culture; the latter ends up in the obscurantism and antiquarianism of ultra-conservatism. Both are heresies of spiritual modernism and dogmatic rationalism because both are emptied of any distinctive religious truth.

But it isn’t only the Church of Rome which views Justin Welby as a heretic; schismatic conservative Anglicans have also identified him as being so (and not only a heretic, but “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”). So Justin Welby is a false prophet or false teacher propagating a false gospel, they aver (cf Mt 7:15). His nature is revealed by his actions, and the fruit he yields is rotten. But it is interesting to discern here precisely who has the sheepish skin and who the wolfish mind; who desires to graze safely, and who plots to kill and devour.

Bishop Martin Morrison of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa (who presided over the irregular consecration of Jonathan Pryke as bishop in Jesmond on 2nd May), accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of the ancient heresy of Arianism: “It is quite obvious that the establishment of the Church of England is at the very least heretical,” he said. “They are wolves, they are false teachers, they are hired hands. We get pretty much common agreement on that.”

Sexuality is a primary issue of salvation, he says; a matter of heaven and hell. Justin Welby is in no position to discern sexual morality because he chooses (/prefers) to put man’s culture above God’s word, and Bishop Martin cites the Archbishop’s much-trumpeted (though hitherto unexpounded and unrealised) need for a “radical new Christian inclusion” following the General Synod vote to reject the Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relationships. “In my opinion, what we have here is a form of Arianism,” he said. “I don’t think it’s intentional, I don’t think it’s by stealth. I think it’s by default and by drift,” he added, because Justin Welby “is saying, in effect, that Jesus was wrong” about the nature of marriage (Mt 19 cf Gen 1:27, 2:24).

So the Archbishops of Canterbury has drifted into a heretical doctrine of God, and he zealously expounds the error, and that error is Arianism, which is quite a serious allegation to make, and so it merits some unpacking.

Scripture teaches that there is only one God (Deut 6:4), yet it also assert that Christ is God (Jn 1:1, 20:28; Rom 10:9,13; Joel 2:32). The attempts to reconcile this apparent contradiction reached a climax during the fourth century, in what became known as the Arian controversy. This was a new era of imperial patronage for the Church, when there was freedom, even encouragement, for Christian leaders from a wide area to meet from time to time, and gatherings of bishops therefore met to resolve conflicts and bestow their ecumenical ecclesiastical authority upon ensuing credal statements.

Arius asserted a strict monotheism, believing that God’s substance is indivisible and cannot be shared, thus denying the deity of Christ. But Arius did not develop his theology in a vacuum: it is important to understand the historical process from which his doctrine originated, its view of Christ, the action at Nicaea against the heresy, and reaction to the eventual Nicene formula.

The Monarchian heresies were the result of attempts to reconcile the divinity of Christ to the unity of God by insisting that all three were simply different names for the same God. Modalistic Monarchianism, or ‘Sabellianism’ (after one of its leaders, Sabellius, in Rome c198-200), gave full divinity to the Son, but denied his personality, blurring the distinction between him and the Father. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit became simply designations of three different phases under which the one divine essence reveals itself three names of the one and the same being. To attack this heresy, it was necessary to stress the differences between the Father and the Son, which could be interpreted as Arian. Dynamic Monarchianism reduced Christ’s divinity to a mere power bestowed on him by God. The Λόγος (‘Word’) was called an attribute of God, and therefore, could never become a person. Jesus, begotten by the Holy Spirit, was not energised by the Λόγος until his baptism. After this, due to the unswerving union of his will with God’s will, the divine power increased, throughout his life until he reached ‘divinity’. Paul of Samosata, Bishop Of Antioch, was deposed for holding this view, in 268. His teachings contributed to the development of Arianism in that area.

The Arian heresy came to surface in c320 when Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, attempted to explain the unity of the Holy Trinity to a group of clergy. Arius accused him of holding Sabellian views, and expressed his own view: “If… the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident that there was a time when the Son was not. It therefore necessarily follows, that he had his subsistence from nothing.” Although the general consensus was that Arius was wrong, and that he was merely raising issues about which the Church was clearly divided, he was excommunicated. This fate also befell three other bishops, including Eusebius of Caesarea, who refused to subscribe to the anti-Arian credal statement drawn up in Antioch. This had the effect of increasing the influence of Arius, giving notoriety to his name and tenets.

Arius made selective use of existing and developing tradition, and imposed more strict interpretations upon terms which had hitherto been applied loosely. One such term is the view of Christ as a ‘creature’. Orthodox Christianity states that Christ is the Son of God by nature; Christians are sons of God by adoption. To the Arians, ‘sonship’ implied the existence of God the Father prior to when the Son was ‘begotten’. It follows that the Son’s ‘begotten’ nature is not the same as the Father’s ‘unbegotten’ nature, so that the Son is of a different ‘essence’ than the Father. Thus, for Arius, the Son is a creature directly created by God (‘only begotten’), before time began. Having been created, he is ‘Son’ only in the secondary sense of adoption; when he is called Λόγος, it is only in a secondary sense, not being the true Λόγος or God, but rather as being ‘adopted’ to that position. Concerning his ‘humanity’, the Λόγος or Son was united to a human body, taking the place of the soul, so that Scripture verses referring to his human development (eg Lk 2:52) refer not to a ‘human nature’, but to his own imperfect nature as the created Son of God.

To resolve the controversy, a council was called at Nicaea in 325. Almost all of the bishops meeting (about 300 in number) were against the Arian doctrine. Such a large gathering gave the council considerably more authority than previous gatherings, augmenting the ecumenicity of the Church. But it cannot be overlooked that Constantine himself added his own imperial authority. The council attempted to write a creed, using only words and phrases found in scripture, in order to exclude the heresy, but their attempt ended in failure. Scripture alone was insufficient: every time a term was introduced, the Arians found a way to evade its full force, so the bishops were forced to use non-scriptural terminology to protect and preserve the scriptural meaning an idea new to most of the bishops. The Creed of Nicaea was drawn up specifically with the Arian controversy in mind, including the important phrase:

And we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, the only begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one essence with the Father…

Which was suffixed by the all-embracing anathemas:

But those who say, ‘There was a time when he was not’, and ‘He was not before he was made’, and ‘He was made out of nothing’, or ‘He is of another substance’, or ‘essence’, or ‘The Son of God is created’, or ‘changeable’, or ‘alterable’, – they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.

With anathemas directed specifically against the basic Arian tenets, the nexus of the creed was ‘one essence’ a term which the Arians denied. This designated the unity of the Godhead. Jesus was ‘begotten, not made’, dispensing with the idea of a created Son, and he ‘was made man’, to show that the Λόγος did not, as the Arians said, merely replace a human soul. This, with ‘of the essence of the Father’ and ‘of another substance or essence’ (in the anathema) were not adopted without hesitation, nor would they have been adopted had any other barrier against the heresy, which all but very few wished to exclude, appeared effective. The Western bishops had introduced the main term ‘one essence’, and had no problem with the whole explanation; but the majority of the Eastern bishops (partly due to the influence of Origen’s subordinationism) had uncertainty, as shown by Eusebius in his letters:

On their dictating this formula, we did not let it pass without inquiry in what sense they introduced ‘of the essence of Father’, and ‘one in essence (coessential) with the Father’. Accordingly questions and explanations took place, and the meaning of the words underwent the scrutiny of reason. And they professed, that the phrase ‘of the essence’ was indicative of the Son’s being indeed from the Father, yet without being as if a part of Him. And with this understanding we thought good to assent to the sense of such religious doctrine, teaching, as it did, that the Son was from the Father, not however part of his essence. On this account we assented to the sense ourselves, without declining even the term ‘One in essence’, peace being the object which we set before us, and steadfastness in the orthodox view.

Peace was the objective as well as orthodoxy. Extra-scriptural terminology (which some sola-scripturists might consider heretical) was adduced (and subsists) in a Christian creed in order to clarify orthodoxy and sustain peace. For Constantine, the formulation of an agreed creed permitted him to continue with his peace-making role, preserving the unity of the church. When he first learned about the controversy between Arius and Alexander, he wrote to them and accused them of contending about “these small and very insignificant questions”, but when the matter could not be resolved, the council became his means of uniting Christendom against Arianism. He was influential in getting wavering bishops to sign the creed containing the controversial ‘co-essential’, but politics could be seen to determine his actions, to produce as broad a harmony as possible.

At Nicaea, Constantine seemed to be a champion of orthodoxy, but he later became a champion of Arianism (due to the Arian influence of his sister), and brought all of the Arians back from exile, helping create the problems of the next 55 years. The restoration of Arius enabled him to offer his own counter-creed, which was obscure and evasive on all those points on which Nicaea had spoken clearly and decisively.

The Eusebian Coalition Arians and Semi-Arians gained political control of Constantine and his court, and began banishing the most influential Nicene leaders on various pretexts. They adopted, in succession, five different creeds at various councils at Antioch, which were Semi-Arian in character. Most of the leaders were men of high regard.  Athanasius spoke well of them and wrote:

…those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicaea, and doubt only about the Coessential, must not be treated as enemies… but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from another subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase ‘Coessential’.

Eventually most of the Semi-Arians were reconciled with the Nicenes, while the Arians re-grouped as ‘Acacians’ (after Acacius, who succeeded Arius as leader in 336). They developed a strategy of strict adherence to scriptural phraseology, the distinguishing tenet being the vague confession that the Son is generally ‘like’ or at most ‘in all things like’ the Father. Their reason was that ‘like’ implies difference instead of the Semi-Arian ‘of like essence’. This was Arian in its intent. The Acacians were in the minority, but eventually gained control of Christendom, re-instituting a persecution during which many Nicene champions were banished, even martyred.

In 357, the Creed of Sirmium was issued which maintained the inferiority of the Son to the Father, and also outlawed the use of certain extra-scriptural terms relating to substance or essence. This helped to move the Origenists from their opposition to Nicaea to conciliation, but it raised such an outcry that it was soon called “the Blasphemy of Sirmium”. An ecumenical gathering in 360, under Constantius II, included the phrase: “The Son is like the Father, as the divine Scriptures say and teach”, which was sufficiently all-embracing to once again permit the preaching of Arianism from the pulpit. This council actually went further and outlawed the formulation of new creeds altogether.

When Julian became emperor (361), he tried to destroy Christianity, not by persecution, but by internal strife by recalling all those who had been previously banished. But the result was the opposite: the Christians united, and the Nicaean formula was increasingly viewed as the only antidote to the powerful and durable Arian problem. Athanasius, at the Council of Alexandria (362), dealt with the problem of admitting Semi-Arians back into the Nicene group, and also with the confusion of terms. He proposed a formula of three three hypostases in one essence, which was the doctrine affirmed by the Cappadocian Fathers in c375.  It is their work that is reflected in the synthesis of the modern trinitarian doctrine.

The Nicene Creed was finally upheld at the Council of Constantinople (381-383), where around 150 bishops forever set Arianism as a sect outside the church. This creed conspicuously omits two clauses of its predecessor. It is not a revision, but a completely different creed, probably incorporated into the Acts of the Council of Constantinople. Creeds were described as ‘Nicene’ if they contained the key elements of the Nicene Creed: they did not need to reproduce it ipsissima verba. This council is where the first definitive, orthodox, universal credal statement was made which discussed the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Nicaea’s primary concern was the relationship of Jesus to the Father, but Constantinople added to its creed the full, coequal, coeternal, consubstantial deity of the Holy Spirit. For this reason it is regarded as the first truly trinitarian creed.

The two creeds were ‘fused’ at the Council of Chalcedon (451), where the assembled bishops affirmed:

We decree that the exposition of the right and blameless faith of the 318 holy and blessed fathers, assembled at Nicaea in the time of the Emperor Constantine of pious memory, should be pre-eminent, while the decisions of the 150 holy fathers… should also hold good.

The key addition was: “True God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father”, establishing finally that each hypostasis of the Trinity comprises a common essence of deity – of equal dignity and equal majesty.  While the Nicene Creed unified all parties around the divinity of the Spirit, it was also a cause for division. The Western Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, following Augustine, maintains that each part of the Godhead is a source of divinity; the Eastern Orthodox position, following the Cappadocians and Origen, maintains that the Father alone is the source of deity. This difference contributed largely to the Great Schism of 1054. The Western Orthodox Trinity doctrine is expounded in its simplest form in the Athanasian Creed (composed early 6th century), so named because of Athanasius’ defence of the doctrine. It affirms three fundamental truths: there is one God, not three (tritheism); the Son and the Spirit are God, not creatures (Arianism); Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct, not confused (Sabellianism).

This lengthy tour of credal development has been necessary to prove irrefutably that Justin Welby is not an Arian heretic, nor even a kind of Semi-Arian heretic. By holding to a theological balance or tension between formative theological factors, he actually avoids heresy in a typically via-media Anglican way. He exercises his theological freedom within canonical limits: he has neither deviated from Anglican orthodoxy nor changed church doctrine or liturgy. Indeed, he cannot, for he is no pope; he has not the authority to do so. He asserts nothing of his individual experience above Scripture or tradition, but rather exhorts his flock in the pursuit of understanding the nature of God in the era and culture in which we live.

If, as observed, the development in the understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity was in stages, and those who advanced the doctrine, in council or creed, could but see a poor reflection as in a mirror, how much more do we see dimly those matters relating to our understanding of humanity? Western orthodoxy did not descend from God in a fax, to paraphrase Professor Martyn Percy; it was discerned and developed incrementally. The Nicene creed distilled complex theological concepts into brief statements, permitting the dimmest of minds to grasp them, and the poorest of memories to recite them.

Creeds do not supplant Scripture, and nor do Archbishops. Their authority depends on their measure of agreement with the Bible. Creeds and Archbishops are valuable insofar as they summarise the doctrines of the Bible, aid its sound understanding, forge bonds of union among their professors, and guard against false doctrine and practice.

Justin Welby has never said what Bishop Martin Morrison accuses him of, nor has he implied that Jesus is not one substance or one essence with the Father. And to over-emphasise a single phrase from a single press release in order to make a schismatic point might itself be a heresy, for by choosing a rigid emphasis on one document, ignoring everything else the Archbishop has said or written; and by fanatically focusing on one aspect of private moral behaviour at the expense of peace-making, loving and serving, would seem to constitute a half-truth, a misimpression, a zealous self-justification for furtive episcopal consecration. Sheepish skin does indeed conceal a wolfish mind. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

  • James M

    Nice to know there are still people who avoid referring to ‘a heretic’. May their numbers not wane.

    • Anton

      Quite. It is “an heretic”.

      • Cressida de Nova

        not anymore !

        • Little Black Censored

          Any more.

          • Cressida de Nova

            * eyes rolling*

      • James M

        What about “an hill” – good English, archaism, or affectation ? These things matter.

  • Anton

    Welby is obviously not an Arian, but he is a heretic in regard to his views on female leadership within the church, and in his views expressed to Pink News in 2014 that it was “right and proper” that same-sex marriage gain legal status “and that’s great”. Despite Morrison’s comment about Arianism, which of the two men is faithful to scripture and 1900 years of church tradition, and which is departing from them? Given the option I know which I’d rather have at Canterbury.

    Welby has a choice between unity and truth in the CoE. He is opting for unity but he will get neither.

    • Dominic Stockford

      He opted for a worldly unity, not a Gospel unity. And only one of those actually matters.

    • Inspector General

      Rotten Welby!

      Farron put up quite a bit of resistance. It is said the gay cock had to crow no fewer than eleven times before Farron recanted his PC heresy. What a shower he turned out to be! One cannot for the life of him understand why the man couldn’t have said “my personal religious belief has no bearing on my leadership abilities, and is my business. No one else’s”. (Which is also an answer Welby should consider every now and then as it happens, addressing synod, for example,)

      Of course, journalists won’t give up that easy so one recommends leaning over to whisper in the scoundrel’s ear (out of microphone hearing) “I may be a stringy wimp of a man, but I’ve brought a heavy with me who will break some of your fingers if you persist”.

  • Excellent summary of historic heresies and the credal responses of The Church.
    Very helpful, thanks.

  • Chefofsinners

    It matters not whether the labels ‘heretyck’ or ‘Arian’ apply to Welby.
    What matters is the application of the apostle Paul’s injunction “be followers of me even as I also am of Christ.”
    Can a Christian follow Welby and follow Christ? Let each be convinced in his own mind.

    • Merchantman

      If the Bride of Christ becomes a ladyman its no longer a bride, and in the C of E’s case its almost there. That’s why this whole thing is so crucial.

  • maigemu

    Excellent vindication and doctrinal lecture. But I am pining for Mrs Proudie. Where is she?

    • Anton

      In mourning for a recently deceased relative, I infer from a comment of hers. Let us welcome her back when she reappears.

    • Cressida de Nova

      You are aware I hope that Mrs Proudie is a bloke !

  • David

    Phew ! Quite a read that one, especially as I haven’t strained my mind on such intensely theological arguments for a few years now.
    Trying to fathom the subtleties of the mainstream doctrine of The Trinity, both in its Eastern and Western forms, is always a huge challenge even for the intellectually and spiritually gifted. Was the additional filioque clause, inserted by the west against the wishes of the east, encouraging the Great Schism, a theological error or not ?
    At this point we need a sense of both curiosity, as we attempt to understand how God’s Word throws light on the nature of God, but also humility, to recognise that because God is so much greater, than we are, in all senses, we can only scratch the surface of understanding of the nature of the Deity. Ultimately the nature of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit will be veiled in mystery to us.
    But having said that I do not see Justin Welby as any sense heretical or opposed to the conventional, traditional understanding of God, as set out at Nicea.
    It is in the sphere of sexual morality that he has become, as much through his actions and inactions, a borderline heretic. Certainly he is not acting sufficiently vigorously, as his role rightfully requires of him, in defence of, to uphold the conventional Christian understanding of how our free will needs to be exercised so as to restrain certain sexual impulses we feel, using the tools of our consciences, suitably well informed by sound Christian morality. To this end a primate must lead by expounding the teachings of Scripture, as understood by the Church down the millennia; it is this that he is failing to do, and therefore failing the Christians of this country, and beyond.

  • carl jacobs

    Is Welby a heretic? It doesn’t much matter at this point. He is widely perceived to be a duplicitous accommodationist who is more zealous for the survival of the institution than he is for the Truth. He presides over a church that follows the Gadarene swine to the precipice and he does not have the courage to say “Stop”. He is desperately trying to find some way to legitimize homosexuality within the CoE in order satisfy the baying secular mob. He brokered a deal with the Primates to discipline TEC and the submarines his own deal – all the while saying he hadn’t. If GAFCON is putting a missionary bishop into England it’s because GAFCON no longer has any confidence in his leadership.

    Fulminations about “justifying schism” don’t matter anymore. Conservatives are going to take their own counsel and do what they must. They have seen their future in the CoE and there is no way to remove the vision from them. The CoE has only itself to blame for this. It was offered the choice between man and God and chose man. Now it must live with the consequences.

    • Merchantman

      Welby should ‘God up’ and say to the secular Government ‘here I stand. I can do no other’ rather than be pushed further by the Spirit of the Age. I have no doubt the Spirit of the age is tantamount to the Anti-Christ. He may be ‘martyred’ for it, but that’s his job if need be.

    • Chefofsinners

      It’s a first for me to speak in defence of Rowan Williams. But his one strength was that he had the intellect to see this coming and get out of the way. He knew he could not reconcile the irreconcilable. Welby will not realise his mistake until it is too late.

      • Anton

        Rowan Williams had the sense to quit while he was ahead but he did a great deal to further the liberal agenda and I do not see what there is to defend in that.

  • len

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all but lost and buried under piles of rubbish deposited on it by those professing to be ‘the Church’.
    It seems that none are prepared to uncover the Gospel as it is far too radical for ‘modern liberal society’.
    So the Church presents what it calls’ the Gospel which in reality is no Gospel at all.
    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an affront to man (especially’ liberated modern man’) and those who try to dilute or dress up the Gospel to make it ‘acceptable’ have failed both man and God .
    Welby has failed in the’Great Commission’ as have so many others because self preservation and self interest have won the battle over Truth.

    • Dominic Stockford

      You can frequently tell those churches which do preach Christ truly, they have few people in them.

      • Anton

        Consistency, Dominic – it is the liberal churches that face declining numbers within the CoE.

      • David

        On the contrary, the churches that preach the full gospel tend to be well attended compared to the liberal ones.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Have you ever worked out how the percentage of people in them compares with the local population, or the number going to the nearest shopping centre at the same time to do their worship? Let’s take, say St Leonard’s in Exeter – if it gets 500 (as it used to when I lived there) that is 0.2% of the population, at best. Even adding in all the rest of the faithful churches in Exeter (not many more) you’ll be lucky to get to 0.5% of the population. And you really think that’s ‘well attended’?

  • An interesting and erudite article which highlights the pitfalls of sola scriptura and need for an authoritative magisterium. Jack agrees Justin Welby is not an Arian. His heresies lie elsewhere.

    ” (He) exhorts his flock in the pursuit of understanding the nature of God in the era and culture in which we live.”

    Fine. However, God is immutable and His moral truths absolute, regardless of the era and culture of particular times. Praxis and church discipline may indeed change, and doctrines do develop – in continuity with past teachings.

    • Anton

      Church discipline should go no further than expulsion. When has Rome or Canterbury ever voluntarily relinquished secular power?

      • Are you doubting that Cranmer’s heresies amounted to treason in the time he lived? You’re aware of Aquinas’ arguments in defence of

        • Anton

          Pining for the days when you could burn me?

          • Grow up. Times and circumstances change.

          • Anton

            They changed because brave men stood up against an organisation that dared to call itself the church yet which tortured people. Thank God for those men and their courage, that I may contend with you without you reporting me to the authorities to be burnt – as your comment above shows that you consider a better state of affairs.

          • Where did Jack suggest it was “a better state of affairs”? And do remember, many brave and courageous Catholic men and women were martyred for their faith in this era. Or don’t they count?

          • Anton

            So you think Aquinas was wrong about that? That’s a start, anyway.

            I condemn all executions for peaceable expressions of personal views.

          • Aquinas was writing at a time when the very survival of the Christian Church herself faced grave dangers and Jack understands his arguments. Jesus warned of false teachers and wolves. Aquinas’ argument that murder of a man’s body was less grievous than murder of a man’s soul and depriving him of eternal life, is certainly sound. Where Jack disagrees, is that no man is responsible for another’s reprobation. They may well hinder spiritual progress and cause suffering in this life and the next (in purgatory) due to the spread of error, but God foreknows His own and those who freely respond to His grace.

            In our time, we have religious freedom, a gift from the deists of the Enlightenment. We need religious tolerance. Tolerance is good and wonderful! Without it, we would probably be fighting numerous religious and ethnic wars, which would cost millions of lives.

            In the end, though, is our deep religious tolerance a good thing? In giving people the absolute freedom to decide what they do or do not believe, we may be giving them the freedom to “think and feel” their way straight into Hell. In our age of relativism where there are no absolute truths, the Church has to operate the best she can, and this means a certain level of conformity to the prevailing social norms — in this case, religious tolerance and ecumenicalism.

            The world of medieval Catholic Europe was very different. They did what they believed was right in the eyes of God. They were not “sinners” and did not necessarily use “poor judgment”. Ultimately, Christ will judge all people, including those of the Inquisition.

            Jack is not saying that burning people alive was justified, even if the individual in question was a genuine heretic who repeatedly refused to recant. We will all die someday, and God will judge everyone. From the perspective of an obstinate heretic who was taken to the scaffold to be executed but who recanted before dying, the Inquisition may have ultimately saved him, if that the person went to Heaven and would otherwise have gone to Hell. Only God knows.

            The Inquisition may have been misguided. Over the course of six hundred years, the Catholic Inquisitions sent between forty to sixty thousand individuals to the scaffold to be burned by the secular authorities. This is less than half the number of abortions in the United States that take place every month.

          • Anton

            The Inquisition burnt only a very small proportion of the population of Western Europe but, as with the KGB, the entire population lived in unending dread of it.

            Aquinas was writing at a time when the very survival of the Christian Church herself faced grave dangers

            Anybody who thinks that the Christian church is not going to survive is rather short of faith in the One who promised that it would. What He didn’t promise was an absence of persecution.

          • Hi Anton ,

            Yes like that vile “grand inquisitor ” antisemitic Torquemada who got the king of Spain to throw out Jews from Spain and expropriated all of the communities wealth at the same time. Although if he hadn’t some great great etc grandparent wouldn’t have ended up in the ottoman empire (apparently some great great great etc grandmother relative apparently ended up in the imperial harem) and married my Mesopotamia Jewish descendants…

            P.S. as I’m trying to like the BBC (impartial) when it comes to Catholic – Protestant stuff , the Proddie Martin Luther was an anti-Semite too. Yes and Cromwell let Sephardi Jews settle back into England…

          • Dominic Stockford

            King John, the baddest of bad guys…..

          • Hi

            True. But without king John , we wouldn’t have had the Magna Carta , the foundation stone of British & American democracy and liberty.

          • Anton

            Not sure of that. Magna Carta didn’t come out of nowhere but was in a long tradition of political freedom which the anglo-saxons viewed as just abourt surviving the Norman conquest; see Daniel Hannan’s remarkable book How We/The Brits Invented Freedom (different titles either side of the Atlantic!)

          • Hi

            Well you won’t be Anton without some challenge to a post !

          • Pubcrawler

            Worse that the Bastard? Or Edward of Caernarvon? Or Richard of Bordeaux? Hmmm.

          • Anton

            Pubbers, I’m mildly disappointed not to get an uptick from you for my bottommost post of this thread, about the indefinite article preceding the word “heretic”…

          • Pubcrawler

            It lacked aspiration.

          • Anton

            Do you know the example of FE Smith’s wit in which a Labour MP from the north grumbled “I’ve got an ‘ell of a ‘eadache” and he replied “Take two aspirants immediately”?

          • Pubcrawler

            Taken in distilled form aspirin is known as Spiritus Asper. (A little orthographic joke there.)

          • Cressida de Nova

            An heretic went to an hotel with an haughty companion.
            ( No ….I don’t think you would say this.)

          • Anton

            Luther started out believing that the Jews would respond when they heard the New Testament rather than Rome’s distortions of it, but sadly and disgracefully he turned against them when they still refused the gospel. Cromwell was philosemitic as were many of the Puritans he led, and he convened a conference in 1655 about their readmittance, but there was too much opposition from merchants, and churchmen were divided. Then a war over trade broke out with Spain and some London sephardim who has been pretending they were Catholic decided to declare themselves Jewish by faith in hope of not having their possessions confiscated. It was a risk either way but Cromwell recognised them. That opened the back door to Jews, sephardim or ashkenazim alike. And it proved to be as well that Cromwell made no declaration, because at the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 after he died, Charles II reversed all of his legislation – but was also favourably disposed to the Jews. As you probably know, Bevis Marks synagogue near Aldgate in London has been holding regular Jewish services of worship unbroken for over 300 years, a record within Europe.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Interesting and well expressed. Sometimes you can pleasantly sane.

          • bluedog

            ‘some great great great etc grandmother relative apparently ended up in the imperial harem)’

            Heavens, Hannah, you may be related to Boris Johnson. But not all the Spanish kings were anti-semitic, check out Peter of Castille on wiki, who was considered very pro-Jewish, to the extent he was known as King of the Jews. He was clearly interested in talented people from any source, and tried to recruit the Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun into his government.

          • It survives through God’s Providence and human cooperation with His will. It’s faithful men and women, serving God, who ensure it’s continuance under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            Who could disagree with that? But when all is said and done the faithful church still has Christ’s promise that the gates of hades will not prevail against it.

          • That’s why Jack is a Catholic.

          • Anton

            Odd, it’s why I’m not!

          • You dismiss the necessity of reasoned argument and the development and deepening of doctrinal understanding under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This contradicts scripture.

          • Anton

            What scripture?

          • Cressida de Nova

            I’m beginning to understand the Inquisition.:)

          • Anton

            Understand away, but thankfully you can’t re-enact it.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I credited you with a sense of humour…evidently a mistake.

          • Anton

            I replied as I did immediately above *before* I found your earlier post about not torching me… otherwise I’d have replied differently. See, I’m still pleasantly sane…

          • Cressida de Nova

            OK …you have your moments:)

          • len

            I don’t think its still function today Cressida. But there again?.

          • len

            Just as well for Christians.
            Its Islamic terrorists who are killing christians now.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I know you are irritating but torching you is just too extreme:)

    • CliveM

      HJ

      You say that his moral truths are absolutes, regardless of era or culture.

      Which I agree with.

      But when it comes to state torture or execution for heresy you excuse it by saying it was of a different times or different circumstance.

      Torture for me is a moral issue and completely against Gods will. In 1556 as much as today.

      Do you not agree?

      • See Jack’s answer below.

      • Anton

        Pope Nicholas I refused torture as church practice, in his responses of AD866 to the questions of the Bulgars.

        • CliveM

          Considering the appalling things man has done, you do wonder why God bothers.

          • Er … because He loves us and created us to spend eternity with Him.

          • CliveM

            I know the answer, it’s still amazing though.

          • Pubcrawler

            Why Psalm 8 is one of my favourites.

          • CliveM

            One of the things I miss from the CofS, is how my current Church almost ignores the psalms. In the CofS we would have a psalm every Sunday.

            I know this isn’t unique to the CofS.

          • Pubcrawler

            I agree. Psalms seem to have been entirely abandoned in the (CoE) Communion Service. But still hanging on in there in the Daily Office (if you’re lucky enough to be near somewhere that still offers the Office daily, like they’re supposed to).

  • Please can we stop peddling the myth that gay marriage is a matter of private moral behaviour. The whole point of marriage is that it is public. And it continues to produce massive changes in every aspect of public life and public policy. Decriminalising homosexual behaviour was arguably about private moral behaviour – though even that changed fundamentally the public space and the way it related to sexuality. But we really have gone a long way since 1967, and gay marriage is anything but a private affair.

  • CliveM

    Is heresy only an issue for the Church these days when related to sex?

    Certainly seems that way.

    • carl jacobs

      Christian sexual morality creates conflict with the surrounding culture. It is therefore visible. Other issues don’t create the PR headache.

      • Perhaps other “cultural” issues should be confronted as well. You know, things like gluttony, greed, pride, sloth, anger and envy. If the Church squared up to these issue too there would be a major PR headache.

      • CliveM

        Yes this is driven not by Gods grace, but with societies obsession with sex.

        We should try not to reflect that.

    • magnolia

      You have a point. I have sometimes been shocked by the freedom some church folk give themselves over the honesty part of the 10 commandments. In some circles (actually notably including those where sexual sin occurs, but far from confined to them) dishonesty and lack of transparency are not only practiced without reflection, but oftentimes lauded as “strategic”, and not infrequently unnecessary degrees of “confidentiality” are used to aid and abet “strategy.” If God did not have agreeable company within the Trinity it would cause him a nervous breakdown I think…..

      • CliveM

        Sometimes it seems that sex is the unforgivable sin.

        • One’s sexual morality indicates a great deal about one’s relationship with God and others. We either see it as co-creating with God or a recreational activity. Jack would say it’s pretty fundamental – but no sin, honestly repented, is unforgivable.

          • CliveM

            I notice that with the advancing years , that aspect of our relationship with God gets easier.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Care to explain what you mean by that Clive?:)

    • Chefofsinners

      Just about every other heresy already has its own sect, which people can join if they wish.
      The agenda of sexual liberals is not to be allowed to worship according to their consciences, as others have desired. Their agenda is to force everyone else to approve of them. To destroy the church from within, destroy the authority of scripture and remake God in their own image.

      • CliveM

        Yes some are like that.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “he is no saint”

    Are you choosing to misuse ‘saint’ according to the Roman ways? Either you are using it in a way that the Bible does not support, or you are denying Cranmer’s Christian faith.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “The present Archbishop of Canterbury may believe the Reformation to have been a great tragedy for the Church”

    We know he has said this – which is incredibly sad in itself. Unless he really means that the sad thing is that Romanism took people off down a deceptive and blasphemous route, and it is therefore sad that the reformation had to happen. I don’t think he does, I think that in fact he lacks discernment.

    • David

      Perhaps he said that, but much more besides ? So without the context we may be misunderstanding his position. I’m always suspicious of quotes comprising just an individual sentence on a sensitive issue.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “at the expense of peace-making, loving and serving,”

    But that does not describe the task of a Bishop, or even an ‘arch’bishop. Their task is clearly laid out in the BCP:

    “A bishop in God’s holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church;”

    …and not to protect that unity by compromising on basic truths or turning away from the clear teaching of God’s Word on such matters as, yes, homosexuality and the creation of man and woman. If I give you a map and directions to guide you somewhere and it contains one error you will be lost. Our task as pastors, teachers, and overseers, is to seek to be pure, and to seek to hold the church in purity as God is pure – because it is HIS church.

  • Sarky

    Justin Welby is not the messiah, hes a very naughty boy.

    • len

      Justin is a corporate man trying to keep all factions happy’.Compromise’ is the name of the game Welby is used to, and playing now.Not terribly well I might add.

      • Sarky

        You cannot compromise such opposing views.

  • Chefofsinners

    The crucial question is not whether Welby is a heretic, which is debatable, but “What is he doing about those who very clearly are heretics within the church he leads?”, the answer being that he is bending over backwards (even he isn’t naive enough to bend over forwards) to accommodate them.
    Cranmer’s potted history of heresy illustrates how truth and orthodoxy were hard won, through much schism and the blood of martyrs. It is those victories which Welby now despises and tramples underfoot as he seeks to appease the zeitgeist.

  • Arden Forester

    He “subsequently departed from that religion”? Whatever Cranmer did or did not do or say there is only one religion for Christians. The Catholic Faith of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as recited by us in the creeds. That Christians are divided is a tragedy not conforming with Dominical instruction.

    I have never understood the Church of England to be offering a new religion. Even if Justin Welby is at times enamoured with the blandishments of the secular world and wishes to incorporate some of its ways into doctrine does not make him a heretic in my opinion, just someone temporarily misguided.

    • Dreadnaught

      … only one religion for Christians. The Catholic Faith of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as recited by us in the creeds.
      The Eastern Orthodox may appreciate a call form you to discuss.

      • Arden Forester

        The Orthodox Catholic Church believes in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as recited by us in the creeds. I’m not sure what could be said in any call other than a cerebral discussion on the Filioque Clause. They certainly haven’t entertained the idea of novelty as Justin Welby has.

    • Dominic Stockford

      I note you have no place for the Bible. Sad. Empty. Meaningless. Man-centred and man created.

      • Arden Forester

        Absurd comment. All Christian churches refer to the Bible. You have no reason to impugn my beliefs in such a way. “Judge not lest ye be judged”.

        • Cressida de Nova

          Arden,you may not know but Dominic Stockford is a committed hater of all things Catholic. He is a defrocked priest.

          • Arden Forester

            No I didn’t know that. Thank you. All I can say is I hope a “committed hater” can come to terms with his ire and have inner calm.

          • Cressida de Nova

            He is not abusive as many of the varied Protestants are on here…still retains some of his Catholic roots.

          • len

            You would have been throwing the faggots(bit of wood ,not they other sort hopefully) on the fire a few years ago Cressida…Not in hate though?.

          • Anna

            People who disagree with you don’t necessarily hate you.

          • len

            Cressida doesn`t see things quite as well as that.
            Everyone who opposes the RCC in any shape or form is an enemy and needs to be destroyed.
            Its a throwback to the Dark ages .Which the RCC initiated.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Yes…that is correct. But there are a those on this blog who definitely do hate Catholicism and everything it represents.

          • Anna

            Is it at all possible that you harbour similar sentiments towards protestantism?

          • Cressida de Nova

            I’m direct not a hater.I dont hate anyone. If you have misinterpreted my posts as hate filled then you have a problem. Len is a good example of a hater. His spittle flecked rants have been ongoing about Catholics for years. Fortunately because he enjoys the reputation of a gibbering idiot no one cares. Is it possible that you have not noticed or are you blinded by your own bigotry?

          • Anna

            You still haven’t answered my question – about your own attitude towards protestantism?

            “I’m direct not a hater.I dont hate anyone…” There are too many insults in your posts, for example, calling Len a hater and a gibbering idiot (I don’t think he is either, and some of us respect his opinions). Perhaps you don’t hate him, but you are being very unkind.

            Being direct is certainly a good thing as long as one is respectful. When there are too many insults and accusations directed at anyone who presents an opinion you dislike, what does that show?

          • Cressida de Nova

            I like sensitive genuine intelligent creative humorous folk regardless of what religion they are.I think my posts make it very clear where my postion lies with regard to Protestantism . It’s the Catholic position.

            The insults that are hurled around this blog by almost everyone are par for the course A lot of them are in jest but that appears to be beyond you . If my posts offend you don’t read or respond to them. Len is constantly insulting Jack and myself. I do not respond to him and in the future I wont be responding to you either..(directly i.e.)

            As for your support for len’s atrocious behaviour and singling me out for criticism…What does that show.? Well …it indicates that you are manipulative, captious and a hypocrite and it would be sad if you did not know that about yourself so I’ve done you a favour.

          • len

            Get over yourself Cressida.
            You have shown your vindictiveness on many occasions so don’t try appearing as an angel of light.

  • Jon of GSG

    What I have never yet understood is why it matters what the exact nature of Jesus’ relationship to the Father is. Can anyone (even if this means, as I suspect it may do, everyone) enlighten me?

    I tried to understand the distinction between monophysitism and miaphysitism once, and had the same problem, not to mention a headache at the end of it.

    • Anton

      Yes it’s pointless. If God hasn’t told us then we stand no chance of working out the mysteries of the Godhead for ourselves. St Paul was unconcerned with it, which is the ultimate precedent. Division about such unknowable things has led to schism on earth with ghastly consequences in European history.

      • Pointless?!

        “I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth.”

        Scripture has been used – and still is – to justify these early heresies:

        Adoptionism;
        Apollinarism;
        Arianism;
        Docetism;
        Macedonians;
        Monophysitism;
        Nestorianism;
        Sabellianism;
        Psilanthropism.

        Not to mention the list of Gnostic heresies.

        How can there be unity in faith and worship if we’re all forming our own autonomous understandings of God?

        • Anton

          Insist within the church that God is triune and that Christ is fully divine and fully human and stop wasting time on HOW. No more need be said, nor should it be.

          • “Insist within the church that God is triune and that Christ is fully divine and fully human and stop wasting time on HOW.”
            Without some explanation in the early Church that statement is meaningless.

          • Anton

            OK, in language that does not presume, Insist that the Creator, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all fully divine and of one “personality” (which is what “substance” means today), and that Christ is fully divine and fully human; and stop wasting time on HOW.

          • Jon of GSG

            Thank you – it’s nice to know it’s not just me thinking these things!

          • You cannot insist on it without touching on the how unless trintarian faith becomes just one alternative among the, as they see it, well reasoned claims of Unitarians, Mormons, JWs, Muslims etc. Many early Christians wasting time on the how kept the faith from heresy and being lost among a plethora of pagan gods making similar claims. They were also heavily persecuted or martyred for doing so. Your statement is only possible thanks to 2000 years’ worth of cushioning.

          • Anton

            I insist on it in the sense of wishing to deny church membership to anybody who denies it.

          • “How” – in what sense? Plus, you need to define “personality” and “substance” – remembering the Triune God has three distinct Persons. To reason, persuade and convert, one needs to assemble rational arguments and scriptural evidence. It couldn’t just be “insisted” upon as scripture lends itself to different interpretations.

          • Anton

            At some point one has to assume that people with whom you disagree have the same understanding of the meaning of certain words. Even a dictionary just defines words in terms of other words. If *they* understand what I am saying (without necessarily agreeing) then I don’t need to justify it to someone who is being deliberately awkward.

        • Jon of GSG

          Hmm… Surely one of the most important aspects of our faith is that we do each have our own individual relationship with God, and that inevitably entails an autonomous understanding of him. I’ve never found two Christians who agreed on every last aspect of doctrine.

          But I’d say the answer to your question is that unity comes from the Spirit, not from correct understanding. The Ethiopian church is monophysite, i believe, and the Syriac church is Nestorian, and i find it hard to imagine my ability to worship or pray with them being in any way influenced by those of their beliefs. Rather, it would be much more influenced by how “in tune” we were with God.

          I realise I’m sounding a bit precious, or something… my apologies for that…

          • “Surely one of the most important aspects of our faith is that we do each have our own individual relationship with God, and that inevitably entails an autonomous understanding of him.”
            In Catholicism we call that indifferentism.

          • Jon of GSG

            Err… go on?

          • len

            Smoke and mirrors . When stumped for an answer Catholics go all ‘mystical’.
            Like the song ‘ its a mystery, its a mystery, and start using loooonnnnng mystical words.

    • The nature of Jesus the Christ, His Divinity and the relationship between the Persons of the One God, has been and remains critical to understanding God and His plan for our salvation.

  • Anna

    I do not believe that Justin Welby is a a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I find his approach to many issues troubling.

    If he believes the Reformation to have been a tragedy, shouldn’t he have joined the RCC – what would be more logical or honest? For the leader of a protestant denomination to minimise the courage and sacrifices of his forbears who suffered and, in some cases, died to uphold scriptural truths is lamentable.

    Coming to gay marriage, you get the impression that he wants the LGBT community to believe he would gladly give in to their demands if there had been a bit more consensus on the matter. “Not yet, but hopefully soon”, he seems to be telling them. When lay Christians lose their jobs and are dragged to court for upholding Christian truths, why do we not find the archbishop coming to their defence? This is being essentially dishonest to both sides.

    What the church in England now needs is for someone in Welby’s position to imitate Athanasius Contra Mundum in defending biblical truths, and not waste his time trying to appease everyone.

    • Arden Forester

      “This is being essentially dishonest to both sides”. Quite. Well put.

      • Merchantman

        The A B of C being dishonest, never

    • bluedog

      Welby’s problem is that the CoE’s position with regard to SSM and homosexuality has been fatally undermined by the British state in the form of Cameron’s SSM Act of 2011. No amount of triple and quadruple locks can alter the fact that the State opposes the position of the Church, and the State owns the Church in a physical sense. Whether Cameron anticipated this problem and its implications is debatable. One suspects it was a second order matter in his reckless pursuit of the progressive, and it is Cameron who must take the blame for the predicament in which Welby finds himself.

      • Arden Forester

        I agree. Cameron saw SSM Act as a way to curry favour with certain sections. He was not always so minded. I understand it was his wife who pushed a lot of the ideas onto him. I don’t suppose he bothered much about the Queen being compromised between signing his bill and her position as Defender of the Faith.

      • Anton

        Except that Welby told Pink News he approves of SSM.

        • bluedog

          Regrettable. It is interesting to speculate on the implications for Welby’s tenure as ABpoC if he were to state otherwise. Until Mrs May decides to include the SSM Act in her Great Repeal Bill, one cannot see Welby sticking his head above the parapet and denouncing SSM. Of course, this illustrates one of the structural weaknesses of the CoE. Alone in the Anglican communion it has to toe a political line, creating the opening for the likes of GAFCON to exploit.

      • Anna

        When those in leadership positions in the church are so willing to compromise the truth, we cannot expect a politician like Cameron – who as far as one can tell has no real Christian faith – to defend our beliefs.

        • bluedog

          Let’s work back up the pecking order. Who appointed Cameron? It rapidly became obvious that apart from an ability to make vacuous sound bites he was completely out of his depth and unfit to run a highly sophisticated modern state. His remarkable patina of self-confidence obscured this to some extent.

          One is tempted to sympathise with the French. Their new president is equally the naif, and sending him in to bat against Merkel is an act of cruelty to a man-child.

          • Anton

            Have you an answer to your question because if so, I’d love to hear it?

          • bluedog

            Tricky one, Anton. Weren’t there rumours at the time that he had been strongly recommended by a highly-placed source? Aged 38, he saw off David Davis, Ken Clarke and Liam Fox.

          • Anton

            If there really is a THEY, wouldn’t they have chosen Ken Clarke?

          • bluedog

            No.

          • Anton

            Why not? He went to Bilderberg conferences. I don’t believe in a totally coordinated hidden THEY, in case you were wondering, but there is certainly an elite that bypasses democracy.

  • vsscoles

    “Heretic” is an old-fashioned term for ideas which divide the Church. By opting for TEC (the Episcopal Church USA) and Trinity, Wall Street’s money, Welby has chosen to align the Church of England with an organisation which long ago ceased to resemble a church in any recognisable ecclesiastical sense. Many ordinary Anglicans are not going to follow him down that primrose path.

  • Inspector General

    What a masterpiece you’ve given us today, Cranmer! It just goes to show the length that man would go to rather than admit he is unsure, or to even admit he knows not. So you get majority men and minority men. It all came down to that. And unity of the church was important, yes it would be. Whatever the cost. And an Emperor of Rome no less had to be made content. Now that is important. Very important his take on it all, if you want to continue to thrive in this life, that is. Of course, Constantine was not a doctor of theology as such. More of a Roman short sword man, which trumps the intellectual argument every time (yes, we know it shouldn’t, but it does).

    But after all the arguing, we still have the one Christ. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it? To know the truth of his provenance takes away nothing nor adds nothing to what Christ was about. But for some commentators on this site, it apparently does that very thing, either way, but none of them could even tell you why!

    How’s that for goat behaviour!

    Sorry chaps, but you had it coming…

    • len

      Constantine was a sungod worshipper and probably the worst thing that ever happened to Christianity.
      If you like a lot of paganism mixed with your religion Constantine was the man for you.Short sword or not.

      • Sarky

        Without constantine its unlikely that Christianity would have survived.

        • Anton

          With Constantine it ceased to be Christianity. As soon as it becomes enforced it isn’t authentic.

          • Inspector General

            You purists are all the damn same. If it isn’t to your satisfaction, into the bin it goes. Even if it means the Word be extinguished.

            {SNORT!}

          • Anton

            The true church will not be extinguished; it has Christ’s promise of that.

            What are you snorting?

          • Inspector General

            You fail to appreciate Constantine’s role in Christianity, Anton. You expect Christianity to be here anyway. It doesn’t happen that way. The story of some middle eastern Jew, of all things otherwise, only of interest to students of the middle east at that time, if at all. You expect far too much. One expected better of you from following Cranmer…

          • Anton

            Christianity never grew faster nor was truer to its founder than in the nearly 300 years before Constantine.

          • Inspector General

            Pitiful. Is that your best. Remember, no Constantine and the faith would eventually be extinguished. But for some reason, you cannot see that…

          • Anton

            Prove it, Inspector; you said it.

          • Sarky

            You might also like to ponder the fact that without constantine, islam may not have come into existence either. What a different world we would live in.

          • Anton

            If you are suggesting a chain of reasoning by which the absence of Constantine might have led to the absence of Islam, please state it!

          • Sarky

            Constantine led to the spread of christianity into Europe, this led a vacuum in the middle east that was filled by islam.

          • Anton

            That isn’t what happened, Sarky; I can explain the history without having to disagree with you about the truth of the religion. Christianity had already spread throughout the Roman Empire *before* Constantine. Read any reputable historian about that, secular or otherwise.

            Islam began in ambiguous circumstances in the desert of Arabia and its leader united the tribes of the Arabian peninsula into a formidable fighting machine. The two large empires on either side of Arabia, the Sassanids of Persia (having the Zoroastrian religion) and the institutionally Christian Byzantine Empire comprising the eastern half of the old Roman Empire, had recently fought a large war and were tired; that gave Islam an easy ride. The Sassanid empire collapsed completely to the Muslim conquerors; the Byzantine Empire held out against the anticlockwise drive of the Muslims round the Mediterranean but the clockwise drive rocketed across North Africa and into Spain.

          • len

            Islam was created by the Catholic Church to get rid of the real Christians.
            Everyone knows this…surely Sarky?.

          • Inspector General

            You still cannot appreciate, can you. 500 years ago, if you had ‘the wrong religion’ in this country, you could be killed for that. The Roman Christians had survived Nero. Just about. No doubt even in them times paid informers were stalking the city. It was only a matter of time before sufficient inducement to betray the followers of the Nazarene would have seen an end to it.

          • Anton

            You, Inspector, asserted that “no Constantine and the faith would eventually be extinguished”. Apart from the fact that this goes against Christ’s own words about the gates of hades not prevailing against the faithful church, and that the church never grew faster than in the 250 years of persecution before Constantine, I am asking you to prove the assertion you have made. Can you?

          • Inspector General

            You are unable to empathise with early Roman Christians and the dangers of being so therein, and that is a problem. It would be better that you ceased posting on the subject as frankly what you are coming out with is so lacking in understanding of the perils involved and is so embarrassing, that your very reputation on this site is in question. .

          • Anton

            That’s two failures to answer my question now, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            How glib you are…

          • Anton

            Three…

          • Inspector General

            You are hereby demoted, Anton. The Inspector runs to a hierarchy, as all social animals have. You just don’t deserve the previous respect so granted you.

            Do not expect an answer to every gibbering you lay at the Inspector’s feet in future. There, it is done and held fast.

          • Anton

            Bless you Inspector, but it isn’t your blog.

          • carl jacobs

            Inspector

            Your view of God is fundamentally contingent and therefore fundamentally pagan. You don’t have a “higher view”. You have a pagan view. That’s why you can’t see that a statement like “No Constantine, no church” simply denies the Providence of God. The church does not exist because certain historical events happened by good fortune to preserve it. The Church exists because God wills that it exist. An atheist like sarky will not understand this because he cannot see beyond his own material existence. You however are reducing God to the image of Zeus pondering the events of the world and figuring out what he wants to do next.

            All you do is demonstrate how little understanding you possess of the Christian faith.

          • Do you rule out the possibility of Constantine being the Providence of God in operation?

          • carl jacobs

            No, of course not. But that isn’t the same thing as saying “No Constantine, no church.” We must be very circumspect about declaring the reason behind God’s providence. It’s dangerous to do so because we lack vision and therefore we’re probably wrong.

          • When it comes to the origins and growth of the Church, Catholics and Orthodox have no circumspection about Constantine.

            We refer to him as: Saint Constantine. In the Orthodox Church he’s referred to as Saint Constantine the Great, Equal-to-the-Apostles.

          • Inspector General

            Not you as well Carl! A member of the ‘God will provide’ lunatics too. Well, know this. Christianity was flourishing all along North Africa until Mohamed showed up and put an end to it for then, and effectively for all time. Where is God’s providence there? If any land can be called Godforsaken, it is that one.

          • len

            Interpretation. The Inspector is stumped for an answer.

          • Chefofsinners

            Whereas your reputation is not in question.

          • Think of the 4th century equivalence of ISIS. You prove Constantine wasn’t an agent of God.

          • Anton

            I think he probably wasn’t. I could debate that with you, but it wouldn’t alter the fact that the Inspector has made an assertion and is failing to back it up.

          • Well, Jack is certain he was for the reasons given.

          • Anton

            It is possible to be certain and wrong.

          • len

            Jack proves this daily

          • Not when he’s canonised by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

          • len

            Just deny all the evidence and you will be proved correct Jack?.

            That’s the way it goes isn`t it.

          • Sarky

            Exactly!

          • len

            For some reason you cannot see that Constantine was a corrupter of the Christian faith.
            ‘The Higher Understanding ‘not working too well today?.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Ah! So you deny the power of the Holy Spirit too, to go where he wills and do as he pleases. What kind of God do you worship that requires the work of men to continue spreading faith in Him?

          • Inspector General

            The Holy Spirit as such is angelic activity at the behest of God. Nothing more.

          • Chefofsinners

            “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” Mark 3:28-29

          • How do you know Constantine wasn’t God’s chosen instrument for the evangelisation of the world?

            Constantine opposed the persecution of Christians; practiced forbearance toward, signed an edict of religious tolerance for, and issued mandates restoring rights and property to Christians; built several Christian basilicas and churches; restored Christian property; aided the bishops and became involved in all affairs of the Church; supported Christian communities, parishes, kingdoms; held Christian synods and councils; he read the Scriptures and organized Christian religious ceremonies; made Sunday a civil holiday; freed Christian soldiers for religious services; he spoke of God’s providence; claimed divine protection for Christians; an Oration to the Assembly of Saints attributed to Constantine is a model of contemporary Christian apologetics; refused religious honours to the Roman Senate; induced his mother Helena to become a Christian; asked that fifty copies of the Christian scriptures in “magnificent and elaborately bound volumes” be used by the churches in the city.

          • Anton

            See my reply above.

          • Jack agrees with you, Inspector.

          • carl jacobs

            You Catholics stick together.

          • len

            When the Truth rappears Catholics go into a ‘holy huddle’ and reach for their comfort blankets.(Or rosary beads whichever is nearer.)

            Even siding with’ the heretic Inspector’ is better than facing the truth.

          • One needs to encourage green shoots. The Inspector must have paid attention to some history lessons in school. There may be hope for him after all.

          • len

            God is so wrong to be a purist .God needs to compromise a lot more.

          • God uses man as He sees fit. Constantine wanted the Church to agree on the fundamentals of her faith and to stop all the infighting and bickering because of the division it created. Was he wrong?

          • Anton

            He was wrong to use the arm of the State to enforce theology. The villain of the piece is not Constantine who knew little better but Bishop Sylvester of Rome who should. He could instead have affirmed that Christians would serve him as Emperor (Romans 13), but have insisted on the church’s independence. Constantine integrated Christianity into his politics, and the church committed adultery with the world by taking the deal.

          • “Like the proverbial horse, the Roman emperor Constantine has been beaten to death by anti-Catholics.”

            https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/constantine-has-been-beaten-to-death

            Constantine did not invent a “new church” or supplant it with paganism. He did not repress Christians but false and dangerous heretics. The five sects condemned by Constantine were the Valentinians, Marcionites, Novatians, Paulians. and the Cataphrygians. Constantine also hated paganism and its violent and homosexual practices and passed laws to repress them, and to exterminate the pagan priests of Egypt. He built Constantinople to be a city without the blemish of heathenism and idolatry, without the worship of devils and pagan temples. He respected the Bible and ordered fifty copies for the churches so that the Scriptures could be read to the congregants.

            Under Constantine the Church was allowed to exist without the pagan, government despotism of Rome. The great persecutors of the church, such as Maxentius, Gallerius, and Licinius were defeated; Christianity was allowed to thrive. Because of Constantine’s liberation of the Church, Christianity spread as it did, and became the dominant Faith in the world. The early Church was a beacon of light destroying the forces of evil and heresy. The Church is here to destroy the works of the devil. Let us do so in light of what the early Christians did, not defiling their history. You would rather have had Satan giving the world his own version of the “Christian” church?

          • Anton

            That’s exactly what happened as a result though, isn’t it Jack? Within a few centuries a worldly organisation that called itself the church was torturing people in the name of Christ and murdering people it disagreed with on religious grounds.

            Because of Constantine’s liberation of the Church, Christianity spread as it did

            Nonsense; it had spread like wildfire throughout the Empire *before* Constantine.

            It is good that Constantine ceased to persecute the church as his predecessors had done. It is bad that he sought to intervene in theological disputes. He had the moral right to demand order from his subjects but not to meddle in the church.

          • See my response to Martin … above.

          • IanCad

            “Constantine did not invent a “new church” or supplant it with paganism.”
            He rejected the clear commands contained in the Decalogue and the creation week to worship on the 7th Day, and changed that hallowed day to the Pagan Day of the Sun.

          • len

            ‘You would rather have had Satan giving the world his own version of the “Christian” church?’
            Thats what Constantine accomplished.Mohammeds religion was less credible to the western mind.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Under Constantine the Church would begin to be co-opted as part of the state which eventually led to the sacralism and worldliness of Rome, the separation from the Eastern churches, the persecution of believers by Rome and ultimately to the Reformation.

          • Quite a mouthful, that, and very poor history. You see Constantine as a permitted evil by God, leading to the reformation. Jack sees Constantine as willed good by God to protect and spread the true Gospel of Christ.
            “You say tomato, Jack says tomahto.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            Except that Rome very soon lost the gospel and abandoned Christ.

          • “You say tomato, Jack says tomahto.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            No, I say you do not know the gospel.

          • And Jack says, you don’t understand the Gospel.

          • Martin

            HJ

            I understand that this is the gospel:

            And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not
            justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding
            or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through
            faith, whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from
            the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

            Do you? That’s justification by grace alone through faith alone.

          • God foreknows His elect and those who accept His grace and persist in His love. Therefore, Jack sees no contradiction between faith and good works. He agrees works cannot save but rather they reflect and increase our receptiveness to the Holy Spirit.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Not what it says: “not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith” and “God justified all men that have been from the beginning”.

          • Nothing Jack wrote contradicts that.

            James 2:24. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

            Paul speaks about Christians fulfilling the law by following the command to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). He then explains that we must show the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:16–26) and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1ff) as a way of fulfilling the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Our own works can never justify us, but works that grow out of faith in Christ are part of our justification. That’s why Paul says in Philippians 2:12 you must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

            James is teaching not only that works show true faith. James 2:14–26 shows that works are more than evidence of faith. Works actually justify. James is speaking about works growing out of faith. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” (Jas. 2:21). Paul said that Abraham was not justified by works but by faith. Scripture does not contradict itself. Paul means that Abraham was not justified by keeping the Old Testament law, while James means that Abraham was justified by doing a work that grew out of his faith in God.

            No wonder Luther wanted James removed from the Canon of scripture!

          • Martin

            HJ

            And nothing James writes contradicts that. You, like all followers of sects, ignore the context of a passage and posts and base your theology on them. Verse 18 proves your understanding of James 2 is wrong:

            But someone will say, You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18 [ESV])

            And my quote from the letter from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth, also called 1 Clement, proves my position is that held from antiquity.

          • That passage is entirely consistent with those passages Jack has already cited. We are agreed that works without faith does not justify. But neither does faith without works.

            James teaches that works show true faith. However, he also shows (in 2:14–26) that works are more than evidence of faith. Works actually justify. James says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” (Jas. 2:21). Abraham was justified by doing a work that grew out of his faith in God.

            James says explicitly, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works” (Jas. 2:22). In verse 24 James concludes, “You see, then, that it takes deeds as well as faith if a man is to be justified. It’s clear in scripture that works of faith are part of our justification. And then in verse 24 James concludes, “A man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

          • Martin

            HJ

            It is clear from James that the works are the evidence, not the cause, of faith. As you say, the works show faith, they do not justify, it is God that gives faith and justifies. And read the passage from Clement again:

            And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not
            justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding
            or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through
            faith
            , whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from
            the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

          • Works, according to James, both manifest . faith and justify.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Works, as James says, arise from faith as the evidence of that saving faith. And the writer of the letter from Rome to Corinth also agrees, showing that in the days when the church at Rome was Christian they agreed with the Bible:

            And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not
            justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding
            or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through
            faith
            , whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from
            the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

          • len

            Constantine is the absolute epitome of compromise.

            Constantine wanted a religion that worked for him.Constantine wanted a ‘religion’ which would unite his people which were pagans and Christians. So he placated the pagans by incorporating their customs into the new religion he devised.He called this new religion Christianity ‘ Roman Style’. Which is now the RCC.

    • Phil R

      I am far more for the short sword than theology

      I have been reading about the first Governor or of Hong Kong Henry Pottinger

      When in India he banned Suttee. When the local religious leaders complained that it was against their religion he asked them if they hsd ever burned a wife to which they confirmed that they had many times.

      He had them all taken outside and hanged. His comment was yes let’s all live by our own religious laws. You can burn wives and i will hang you for it because of my God’s law.

      I think i would have got on with him very well.

      Suttee ended

      • Inspector General

        The Inspector would have passed him the port…

        • bluedog

          Clockwise, one trusts.

          • Inspector General

            Whiskey is passed to the right, you see. Can’t bring you anywhere….

        • Phil R

          I like your comments and for the record I think that you are more correct theologically than many of the posters here who think they “know it all”.

          On “thought for the day” today there was an interesting distinction made between sin and evil. Sin we were told was something you repent of or is a momentary lapse. Evil is a sin that you plan to do knowing full well that it is wrong, or regarding sin is no longer problem because you chose to willfully defy God to say it is right. This was said in the context of Ian Brady, but it struck me that on that basis Farron and May could happily say that homosexuality was not a sin because they regarded it as evil.

          The final part was interesting. Only sin can be repented of and forgiven in love.

          Evil the speaker said needed to be fought against uncompromisingly, as love would not work until the evildoer started to regard their actions as sins.

          A very interesting thought for the day for once…..!

  • len

    The Church (or at least a large part of it) seem to be sliding into apostasy.
    As in the past when the majority fails God will work through the remnant.
    This is what seems to be happening with small churches and home groups. These groups will remain true to the faith and the church is also growing in parts of the world under communist and Islamic rule.This is ‘the secret church’ that is growing despite persecution.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I think it was supposed to remind us of Homer Simpson…..

    • Anton

      We might also look to Henry IV Part I for some comments about Percy.

  • Anton

    Alas, poor Justin?

  • A dead court jester whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger. The sight of Yorick’s skull evokes a monologue from Hamlet on mortality.

  • Typhoon Tina

    Yes but more importantly what do the Rabbi’s think?
    After all Jesus was a Jew was he not?
    You must free yourselves from the enslavement of New Testament teaching.

    • carl jacobs

      Hrmmmm. Let’s investigate this a little.

      Whaddaya know. Typhoon Tina shows up on Morgoth’s Review. I wonder who this is? Hrmmm. Private account … This time. Talks about Jews. Has a nick of similar construction. It must be our very own …

      Norty Nina!

      Returned from the dead.

      Going to tell us what Hitler was right about, Nina? You still have that question outstanding.

      • len

        Norty Nina , Typoon Tina what next?…..Gullible Gina?

        • carl jacobs

          How about “Lampshade Ilse”. Not that there ever was a Buchenwald. No, no, no. It was a complete fabrication. Just ask our new guest. She’ll tell you.

          • Anton

            No no Carl, Buchenwald did exist but the facility was a library set in woodland. As all deniers know, people tended to take the books out without authorisation, hence the barbed wire fences and watchtowers.

          • IanCad

            And so enthusiastic were those Jews for learning that they were provided huts for their convenience, and furnaces and ovens to keep them warm.

          • carl jacobs

            You know? That makes a lot of sense. “Forrest of Books”. I feel like such a cuck now. I must owe Tina/Nina an apology.

  • Chefofsinners

    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous doctrine or to take arms against a sea of liberals and by opposing end them.

  • Typhoon Tina

    Disqus on the blink.

  • Typhoon Tina

    The faith hasn’t really adapted to the modern world has it.
    We still seem to think it is the same situation today as it was hundreds of years ago.
    Today we live in a world run by a globalist elite, a banking tyranny, where everything about our existence is being monitored. Every transaction recorded and kept, everything we say being stored. To opt out of their system is almost impossible, can get you arrested, even killed.
    The decision to promote homosexuality and transgenderism was made by an unelected faceless anonymous ‘elite’, to be rolled out as policy to all nations. These decisions have nothing to do with God, indeed they are satanic, there is no room for God in their new globalist order. The Christian church has already been marked down for extinction, and Christ to be killled.
    The C of E has little or no influence on events, it has been made an anachronism, obsolete in ‘their’ new world of usury and commerce.

    Christian communities throughout the world are being rubbed out wherever their existence is deemed inconvenient, especially the Middle East and Christendom is to become Islamic, by order of our overlords.
    In view of world events, especially those of the last 40 years, the church will muddle along, and argue the number of angels dancing on a pin head, while it continues to diminish, and ignores the elephant in the room.

    • It’s the Lizards who are on the ascendency!

      • Typhoon Tina

        How is the Pope by the way?

        • Cressida de Nova

          He’s fine and really enjoying his flying lessons. He is so thrilled by Jack and Albert’s efforts in defense of the faith that he is flying them over to St Peters for a special celebratory Mass with a supper afterwards .

          • len

            Is the Pope flying like Simon Magus?.

          • Dominic Stockford

            He’s a poor judge if he thinks they’ve done him and his blasphemous heresies any good.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You’re just miffed because you have been removed from the invitation list
            Persona non grata:)
            I don’t believe you really think that anyway. If you did you would have never taken Holy Orders in the first place unless you were evil and I don’t think you are. At some stage you will have to sort this mess out instead of digging yourself deeper into that hole. OK you made a big mistake but there is nothing that cannot be forgiven. You will find peace when you resolve all of this.There is too much much bitterness and rancour within you railing against your former faith.

      • len

        Thought they had them safely hiden away in the Vatican Vaults.So they got out again…

        • David

          Aliens taught the shape-shifters how to escape – it’s really serious !

          • carl jacobs

            No, no, no. Get this right. It’s alien shape-shifting lizards. From Andromeda.

          • You have not been schooled is Lizardry. These beings are not from our time and space.

          • carl jacobs

            GASP! You’re a high level Scientologist, aren’t you. How else would you know this.

          • Lizardology is not for the likes of you, Carl. It requires a … um … higher understanding of interdimensional time and space.

          • carl jacobs

            A “higher understanding” … But wait … But you … But he … Are you saying that … IMPOSSIBLE!

          • Most certainly NOT.

      • David

        Plus their friends the aliens !

        • carl jacobs

          The lizards ARE aliens!

        • Depends which planet they are from.

    • len

      Faith doesn`t adapt .Faith is.

    • Pharaoh and Sennacherib both thought the same thing (Exodus 5:2; 2 Kings 18:17-20). It didn’t work out well for either of them.

    • petej

      The same places where Christians are dying for their faith are the places where people are being tortured and killed for being gay.

      You can’t promote homosexuality or transgenderism because it isn’t something you can choose to be.

  • len

    “Alas poor Justin I knew him well, He tried to be all things to all people and forgot God the most important person of all”

  • Albert

    Roman Catholics today may honour his courage, but there is no veneration because he is no saint

    I don’t think he was courageous, but I do honour his prose.

    In my opinion, what we have here is a form of Arianism,” he said. “I don’t think it’s intentional, I don’t think it’s by stealth. I think it’s by default and by drift,” he added, because Justin Welby “is saying, in effect, that Jesus was wrong” about the nature of marriage (Mt 19 cf Gen 1:27, 2:24).

    That needn’t be Arianism, it could also be Nestorianism. In any case, the evidence of Arianism or Nestorianism is to be found in the ordination of women, insofar as it requires Christ to be a man of his time, rather than the Word of God made flesh full of grace and truth.

  • Anton

    Here’s why it isn’t necessarily Arianism: Welby might, alternatively, believe that Jesus is as divine as the Creator but that the scriptures do not faithfully reflect what Jesus said and did.

    It would be nice to know exactly how Welby squares his views on SSM and female church leadership with the New Testament. How does he manage to avoid questioning on these subjects?

    • Chefofsinners

      Welby would be the last person to know whether he is a heretic not. He doesn’t know his Arian from his elbow. The deepest thing he ever said was “I’m not a good enough theologian”. It’s not so much that he avoids questions on these subjects as that he is incapable of understanding them or giving an intelligible answer.
      He is a pragmatist, ever choosing the easiest path rather than the right path, treader of the via media rather than the via recta. I wonder how the Holy Spirit strives within him, whether he is tormented by his inability to face the fires of martyrdom as his predecessors did. We can but pray for this lukewarm Laodicean, that he will be granted vision, courage and faith.

      • Anna

        In my view, Justin Welby is a sincere Christian who is trying to be kind and welcoming to the LGBT community- probably the right approach for a pastor. However, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, he needs to display more leadership, and remember his duty towards fellow Christians who suffer for upholding the truth. If you are a Christian who has just lost your job for bearing witness to Christ, and you find that he has no intention of supporting your cause, then it could be very disheartening, and I wonder if Welby realises that.

        • Chefofsinners

          Yes, there is real credit in the charge ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them’. But the charge against Welby is that he welcomes sin.

        • Inspector General

          Those who sign up to the LGBT community are worshipping an idol. It’s not a false idol. It exists. It cannot be a part of Christianity. No more nonsense from you then…

          • Phil R

            Well said

          • Inspector General

            Anna is, no matter how devout she may be, or thinks she is, an example of why women can never be priests. They are too inclusive, as a result of their natural love to all as nurturing females, despite the defiance to God that involves.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Where does one go to sign up to this “LGBT community”? How does one get hold of the necessary application form? Postal address? E-mail address? Web site? Is there an entrance fee to pay? If so, can it be paid by cheque or credit/debit card, or does it have to be cash?

            If one prefers instead to sign up to the heterosexual or “straight” community, what is the procedure there? Are references required? Does one’s application have to be vetted and approved by a council or committee?

          • Inspector General

            Gug. Don’t be clever now. The LGBT community expresses itself in ‘Pride’ activities and is around for anyone who wishes to sign up to them. Even the top football clubs have LGBT fan clubs, though the Inspector has to say that these ‘clubs’ are in his opinion more for meeting up for anus sex than for meeting up to attend the next match together.

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Oh, I see what you mean. Which “LGBT” fan club have you had the privilege of going to? And which other gay clubs do you frequent?

            As for “Pride” activities, I’ve been to a couple, but I can’t really be bothered with them much. They’ve lost their original function anyway, but they do give exhibitionists a chance to make fools of themselves without doing any harm to anyone else, and they make quite a bit of money for people who run stalls selling drinks, ice cream and junk food snacks. To go to them you don’t have to sign up; you just have to turn up.

          • Navarth

            I reached the same conclusion after reading Vaughan Roberts’ book Transgender.

        • Phil R

          It is worse than that. Welby does not care if you suffer for Christ. A few years ago Welby stood at the side of a mass grave of African Anglicans in the Sudan.

          He a ked what he could do and was told by the local Bishops to stop the tolerance of gays in the Western Anglican Church.
          Speak out he was told. He did nothing and in fact the reverse which indicates that rich Western liberal Anglicans count for more than poor conservative African Anglicans.

          Money, means more than faith.

          Money is worth Africans dying for.

          Far more it seems.

          • petej

            It’s not a binary thing though (tolerance/intolerance) and it isn’t his decision alone to make. CofE teaching is that gay people should be tolerated if they remain celibate.

          • Phil R

            Welby could state what his church believes.

            That is binary.

            Welby’s problem is that he will never get another invite to dinner from the Liberal Elites.

            Acceptance by the secular world is more important than dead Africans.

          • petej

            I agree I would like the ABC or ABY or Bishop of Newcastle to publicly explain how their theology differs from this church and why they believe it.

            The position of the cofe on sexuality is laid out in a document called “issues on human sexuality” and every new ordinand has to sign that they agree to it. It opposes all sexual relationships for gay people.

            I don’t know if you live in the UK? But the governing party is the Conservative party – our elites aren’t liberal! But Welby is not a friend of liberals. He is a conservative evangelical (from HTB!), but he is also seeking peace between the various different factions, which is why nobody thinks he is on their side.

          • Phil R

            “But the governing party is the Conservative party – our elites aren’t liberal”

            The Conservative Party is New Labour with a blue logo.

            On almost every social issue the CP are liberal. Are HTB conservative Anglicans? The test really is whether they are members of Reform or not.

            They are not. So they are liberal.

          • petej

            I would strongly disagree that the conservatives are socially liberal. They are certainly a *lot* less socially liberal than labour, lib dems, snp, plaid, green, sdlp, alliance and sinn fein.

          • petej

            I don’t think being a member of reform makes you conservative. I think having conservative views makes you conservative.

        • petej

          It is illegal in the Uk to sack someone for being Christian. I don’t see why any church leader cannot both be compassionate towards LGBTI people and supportive towards fellow Christians.

          • Navarth

            From the perspective of either Buddhism or Advaita Vedanta your illusory fixations (“LGGTI”) are the false self and a barrier to fundamental reality . I suggest Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.

          • petej

            I don’t know what LGGTI is or what Advaita Vedanta is.

            If being attracted to the same sex, experiencing being a gender different to your birth sex or being born with both male and female characteristics are merely “illusory fixations” then there is even less reason for churches and church leaders to discriminate against people who experience these.

      • Royinsouthwest

        Your criticisms are totally unjustified. Have you read about what he did in Nigeria before he became Archbishop of Canterbury?

        Revealed: Archbishop blindfolded by rebels with Kalashnikovs on jungle mercy mission
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2231115/Justin-Welby-Archbishop-blindfolded-rebels-Kalashnikovs-jungle-mercy-mission.html

        Soldiers with machine guns circled in helicopters as rebels blindfolded Justin Welby, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, bundled him into a speedboat and took the mild-mannered Old Etonian into the heart of Nigeria’s darkness. Although in extreme danger, the bespectacled father of five remained ‘completely relaxed’, according to a colleague who was with him on the peace mission for a church body.

        On another occasion, fresh from negotiating with Al Qaeda operatives, the Right Rev Welby was arrested by the Nigerian army. As he heard shouting and pounding footsteps of soldiers storming up the stairs, he spoke calmly down the phone to a colleague. ‘I’m going to count to ten and when I finish, they’ll be here. Don’t worry, I’ll leave my phone on, so I can be traced,’ he crisply informed Canon Dr Stephen Davis, who was on the other end of the line in Britain.

        He then completed the countdown, placed the muted phone in his pocket and passively accepted the rough shoves of his captors as they bundled him out of the building. Only hours later the former oil executive was located and released at the embarrassed behest of the Nigerian authorities, desperate not to lose one of their most prized peace negotiators.

        That incident, in 2005, was just one of an array of extraordinary secret acts of courage which mark out Justin Welby as a remarkable resolver of conflicts. Dr Welby has had to shake hands with warlords, negotiate with kidnappers and endure multiple arrests in some of the most dangerous warzones in the world, where the slightest mistake could have seen him lose his life.

        For two years Dr Welby and Dr Davis were regularly blindfolded by militants and taken in speedboats into the blood-soaked creeks of the Niger Delta

        They were seeking a reconciliation between oil giant Shell and the Ogoni people in south-east Nigeria. The Ogoni had been locked in a bitter battle – which is claimed to have ultimately cost the lives of up to 100,000 people – with Shell, which was accused of polluting the land and encouraging human rights abuses.

        Dr Davis recalled: ‘Before taking us into the creeks, the militants blindfolded Justin and I, just as they did to almost all Westerners for fear of their positions being given away. ‘But Justin was completely relaxed about it, despite the fact we were heading into fierce fighting. ‘All that mattered to him was that he was doing God’s work.

        I have only copied part of the article but the extracts above give you some indications of the dangers he was prepared to face in Nigeria because of his calling.

        Would you or any of his critics have been prepared to do the same?

        • Chefofsinners

          If not a coward, then a heretic or a lunatic. Alternative explanations are in short supply.

        • Yes, he might well be good in the face of physical danger, but he can’t stand up for Jesus against the Liberal elite in this country.

          • petej

            We’ve had Tory rule for the last seven years – the elite are certainly not liberal in this country!

        • Charitas Lydia

          That is one of his favourite spin-doctoring stories. Have you heard how Nigerian Christians consider him a liability?

      • Charitas Lydia

        Welby has as much theology in his brain as I can squeeze into my thimble.

    • Dominic Stockford

      If that is truly what he believes then why is he even a Christian? A follower of a man about whom he believes that he can know nothing reliable whatsoever? And as one of the leading such followers in the UK, he’d be a complete sham if that was the case.

    • petej

      Are you aware that he is opposed to ssm?

      • Anton

        How then do you explain his words to Pink News that it is “great” that SSM is now recognised, and that it’s “right and proper [that] it’s the law of the land”?

        http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/05/13/exclusive-archbishop-of-canterbury-its-great-that-equal-marriage-is-the-law-of-the-land/

        Is he manipulating secular gays like he is evangelical Christians?

        • petej

          His statement here should be taken in the context of him having just lead the political opposition to ssm in the secular sphere and refusing to move an inch in the ecclesiastical sphere (despite considerable opposition). My view is that he is trying to appear loving and reasonable, but to interpret this statement as being in favour of ssm would be to ignore everything else he has said on it and all his actions as Abc.

          • Anton

            We may, perhaps, agree that he is trying to keep everybody happy and succeeding in keeping nobody happy!

          • petej

            No I don’t think so. I think his pink news comments were probably taken out of context. I expect it was an attempt to appear compassionate, nothing more.

            Remember this is the man who successfully got the UK government to specifically ban ssm in his churches.

  • bockerglory

    Sometimes it is best to just look at what Jesus said.

    If you know the son you know the father.

    When asked “who are you”, Jesus answered indirectly – Son of Man, the Kingdom of heaven is near etc. He implied he was one with the Father. That’s why the religious monotheists of that day wanted him done for Blasphemy.

    Jesus also said what we part understand we will understand in full.

    Have worked in hostile environment where Muslims mocked, teased me that Jesus could not be God (how can God make himself or crucify himself etc).

    But Jesus was with me and so was the Spirit – & I responded doctrine is to be judged by its fruits. Mohammed was a polygamistic warrior and after death his followers started killing each other (Sunni V Shia) almost immediately. He died, did not raise himself or anybody else from the grave. Jesus is the judge in Islam on Judgement day – so better follow the Judge. Bad fruit = false doctrine. I softened this of course!

    Jesus is good fruit – he said he was the bread of life. He was not a polygamistic war lord & when he died his followers did not kill each other immediately afterwards – they were persecuted by others but that is different. Jesus had a frail human body that on death descended to Hades overcame death and rose from the dead. So based on the good fruit test I am following Jesus.

    So who is Jesus? In human form he was man and divine. Just like we are in the image of God – but obviously not literally as there is great diversity amongst people.

    It is faith that we accept this.

    So the test for Welby (& whether there is good fruit) is this – does allowing two adults to engage in same sex produce good fruit in the long run?

    Does having women bishops produce good fruit?

    For me no. Both have led to division and schism & distracted from Jesus. If a woman loves Jesus she will not worry whether she is a Bishop or not.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Unfortunately your test is largely subjective, as you implicitly admitted when you answered your own questions by saying “for me no.” Someone else might give a different answer and who, apart from God, is to say which is correct? Furthermore division is sometimes unavoidable and is not bad then. Who was it who said “I came not to bring peace but a sword”?

      • bockerglory

        Indeed you are right. To determine if there are “good fruits” may take some time. However, being mindful of being judged, I prefer to be cautious without being hateful to people who disagree. So currently the two issues of women bishops & same sex marriage, will need more time to see what good fruit is produced if any, but for me I prefer a cautious approach.

    • Inspector General

      Yes, that fits in with the Higher Understanding, sir. Jesus was indeed divine. Brought into being by the Almighty to educate us wretches on how to live together. No, he didn’t descend into Hades, as you put it. His fellow angelics patched him up as best they could in the limited time available to them. It must have been a tremendous effort. Scourging and crucifixion had wrecked our Christ. Jesus was thus just as he explained himself. Of the Father as his own son would be if God could have a son. Which of course he can’t, but it’s near enough for us.

      • Chefofsinners

        What?
        You could throw these same words up in the air, let them come down in almost any order and they would make more sense.

        • Inspector General

          If the Existing Understanding works for you chief, keep with it. But we have learnt a lot in two millennia. The earth going around the sun, for one. Don’t let the limited intellects of polytheist converts from seventeen hundred years ago place limitations on your search for the truth.

          • Chefofsinners

            The idea of a heliocentric solar system was proposed by Aristarchus around 250 BC and can also be traced to astronomers in India around 900 BC.

          • Inspector General

            Hang me!

          • bluedog

            Inspector, having pioneered the Higher Understanding which you now seem to be marketing to His Grace’s communicants, one wonders, is there an obligation-free trial offer? You know the sort of thing, money refunded if not completely satisfied, sign now before the end of the month for our special introductory deal.

          • Chefofsinners

            Ah yes, the Hire Understanding.

          • Inspector General

            Think of it, what is issued in small pieces, as the gift at the bottom of some cornflakes packets, dear hound.

          • bluedog

            Pass.

      • len

        If that’s ‘the higher understanding’ better kept it to yourself inspector.

    • len

      Well said

    • Dominic Stockford

      I and the Father are one. John 10:30.

      I see no ‘implication’ in that, but a clear and bold statement of fact.

  • Cressida de Nova

    Straight to the top of the Christmas card list:)

  • Mark Earngey

    May I humbly suggest, Your Grace, that you make a minor (but substantial) modification to the phrase: ‘The Western Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, following Augustine, maintains that each part of the Godhead is a source of divinity…’ There are no parts in the Godhead (see Article I, 39 Articles of Religion) because He is simple. Presumably this was a slip of the keyboard on the part of Your Grace, for surely such an eminent scholar as yourself writes otherwise in his Great 21st century Commonplaces.

  • len

    Welby has a Bible and the 39 articles to guide him what could possibly go wrong?.

    • Dominic Stockford

      If he learn’t to be a faithful Christian, instead of a ‘faithful Anglican’ maybe the denomination he leads would have a chance.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Naughty!

  • Charitas Lydia

    The very length His Grace had to go through to write this article proves that Justin Welby needs a lot of defending.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Go for it CESA, way to go!