philip mawer martyn percy
Church of England

Mawer, Percy, and the See of Sheffield: what if Conservative politicians had supported Philip North?

Sir Philip Mawer’s report on the circumstances surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North to the See of Sheffield makes interesting reading, in particular what it means for the ‘mutual flourishing’ of both proponents of women priests and bishops, and those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests. By exhorting the House of Bishops to commission a group “with balanced membership” to review “what would mutual flourishing look like – for me, for you, and for the Church”, the concept is not merely kicked into the long grass; it is abrogated.

“Mutuality… means that those of differing conviction will be committed to making it possible for each other to flourish.” Yet what mutual agreement on the definition of ‘mutual flourishing’ can come from a group with a “balanced membership”, which must, by definition, be half-composed of those for whom there can be no mutual flourishing between those who believe women may be validly sacramentally ordained and those who work and pray for the extinction of women priests and bishops in the Church of England? Where is the ‘mutuality’ between the belief in valid sacramental equality, and what Professor Martyn Percy termed the “sacralised sexism” of bishops like Philip North? Is there really a walkable via media to be found beyond the fluffy verbiage of perpetual fudge? If we are to “Ban conservative bishops until we have gender equality“, how exactly are those conservative bishops (and like-minded priests and laity) supposed to flourish?

Or is Professor Percy to be barred from membership of Mawer’s proposed mutuality review group on account of his anti-mutuality convictions?

Actually, the Mawer review is nowhere near as interesting as Percy’s response to it, which came via Christian Today. And no paragraph was as interesting as this one:

The report, however, also reveals how far the centre of gravity in the Church of England has drifted from the general public and contemporary culture. We are informed that ‘prominent voices question(ing) the nomination included those of Lord Blunkett and the MP for Sheffield Heeley, Ms Louise Haigh’ (para 66). This is a highly significant issue for public theology and an established Church – not least for its public witness and Christian credibility. The sentence above, however, is the only mention of this exceptional, probably unparalleled intervention by a former Labour Government Minister and Peer, and a serving Member of Parliament. The intervention merited some serious discussion, and not merely a fleeting mention. The report reveals a Church talking to itself, relatively deaf to wider culture.

Setting aside the fact that Louise Haigh MP represents the constituency of Sheffield Heeley, which is only one of the 12 parliamentary constituencies embraced by the Diocese of Sheffield (ie the other 11 MPs publicly expressed no view), how “highly significant” is it that left-liberal ‘progressive’ politicians express opposition to the appointment of a theologically conservative bishop? Martyn Percy is of the view that the intervention of Lord Blunkett and Louise Haigh was of profound importance for the Church of England’s public witness (and for Christian credibility). Andrew Lightbown goes further:

Politicians and civic leaders… have a right to comment on those appointments which will have a significant bearing on the life of the diocese. Bishops do after all sit in the legislature. on the benches of the House of Lord’s. Bishops also have the opportunity, through their very office, of shaping civic life and culture.

1 Timothy 3, 7 stresses that potential bishops ‘must be well thought of by outsiders.’  So, when assessing whether the diocese is content to accept or otherwise a ‘non ordaining’ bishop the views of civic leaders should carry significant (not necessarily decisive but significant) weight.

So if left-liberal ‘progressive’ politicians do not think particularly well of theologically conservative bishops, populist calls for such episcopal nominations to be rescinded (or not to be made at all) should carry “significant weight”?

What if two Conservative politicians had supported the nomination of Philip North to the See of Sheffield?

What if two Labour politicians had supported him?

What if Nigel Farage had supported him?

Which civic ‘outsiders’ merit having their views taken into consideration when it comes to the appointment of bishops (or the development of doctrine)? Are any political dispositions beyond the pale?

Politicians, wrote Bagehot, are “men of the world”. They are men (and now women) of business and self-interests. They do not bequeath to us coherent works of systematic theology, though Christian themes may be interwoven with their policies and rhetoric. But it cannot be ignored, in a democracy, that they each have their eyes not only upon their political objectives but also the popular press: their task simultaneously has to be to reassure sceptics and win converts, as well as to rouse the faithful.

Frankly, a left-liberal politician would support the nomination of a Muslim bishop if (s)he thought there were enough votes in it. This isn’t a flippant comment; it is simply an observation that jumping onto political bandwagons is what democratic politicians do. Theological integrity or spiritual reason are of little consequence in a dog-eat-dog age of ubiquitous religious illiteracy. How many politicians are aware of the purpose, meaning and significance of an established church?

The curious thing about Andrew Lightbown’s intervention is his erroneous application of 1 Timothy: it is a pastoral epistle. St Paul isn’t talking about whether a bishop’s theological beliefs are “well thought of by outsiders”; his concern is their character, maturity and integrity:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (vv2-7).

The final clause is paramount, or is Andrew Lightbown saying that Philip North’s belief that women may not be validly sacramentally ordained is not only worthy of the reproach of non-believers, but is a snare of the devil?

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets (Lk 6:26).

It is easy to appropriate the views of a Labour peer and a Labour MP to the socialist cause of equality, but it is a shallow theology and a shoddy ecclesiology. What happens to latitudinarianism? What does the Broad Church become if theological liberals align with political liberals to hinder, exasperate and expel all the theological conservatives?

But if we’re going to go there, what does Professor Percy make of the fact that 128 Conservative MPs (then the majority of the parliamentary party) voted against same-sex marriage? Should their view be considered “highly significant”, or should it be set aside because it isn’t conducive to equality in either church or state? When does public theology heed a partisan political view, and when should it ignore it? When should doctrine mutate to accommodate the diverse views of the people, and when should the church go on believing and witnessing against experience? When should the world’s condemnation of Christian discipleship be noted, and when should it not?

A man-centred theology of liberation and fashion which repudiates authority and snooping dogmatism is not the only model of public theology. A God-centred theology still has something to say to the modern world, to our national life, social life, civic life, family life and personal life. The Christian conscience may still judge the acts of the State, even when to do so is an offence to 90 per cent of its fellow citizens. The mission is not to be popular or to find favour, but to make a new kind of civilisation through reformation and renewal. Isn’t God above material things?

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Mr. Percy has come a long way since Blackadder II: sadly, his world-view has not.

    • Sarky

      He has discovered the modern version of ‘purest green’.

      For non blackadder fans, a rubbish copy of the real thing.

  • Gladiatrix

    I am starting to wonder why Cranmer continues to bother, as it is clear that no-one in authority at the Church of England is listening to him. This kind of thing will continue until traditional orthodox members of the Church start using its complaints and disciplinary procedure and force the Church to specifically and publicly rebuke those clergy and laypersons responsible for misandrist and bigoted conduct like this, and until they start doing things like reporting Blunkett and Haigh to the Parliamentary authorities for abusing their positions.

  • Pubcrawler

    “…how far the centre of gravity in the Church of England has drifted from the general public and contemporary culture”

    Hmmm. Interesting turn of phrase from Prof. Percy. Which is firm and constant, and which has done the drifting? Which the touchstone and which the thing to be tested? Are we now to render unto Caesar also those things which are God’s?

  • Anton

    I found Martyn Percy’s last paragraph more revealing:

    As for ‘mutual flourishing’, I do believe in it. I believe it can work. I also believe that the term ‘mutual’ means that the faith and beliefs that really matter to the Church are held in common, and that there is generous, gracious reciprocity between all parties. But the term ‘mutual’ simply cannot mean that all convictions are equal, valid and valuable. Once the Church of England has grasped that most basic principle, we might all begin to move on…

    This is code for: More liberalism – or else.

    It is more than time for the CoE’s evangelicals to declare war on the liberals. Spiritual war, to be sure. But open war – and total war.

    • Brian

      Of course, the truth is that HARDLY ANYBODY goes to church in Sheffield – and the largest churches there – by a country mile – are evangelical: Christ Church Fulwood (cons. ev.) and St Thomas Crookes (‘open ev’ and erstwhile home of the notorious ‘Nine o’clock Service’). Fulwood has begun planting other churches and I imagine their loyalty will be more to their mother church than the diocese. Martyn Percy (at £80k+ pa the highest paid Anglican clergyman in the UK) is basically a politician, not a churchman, interfering in matters nothing to do with his diocese. Since 1994, the constituency has changed to entrench his position, while Anglo-Catholics have departed. The C of E is now weaker and smaller than at any time since the Commonwealth. Percy’s goal is to entrench the policies of failure that have weakened the Church inexorably since 1994.

  • A Berean

    “How many politicians are aware of the purpose, meaning and significance of an established church?”

    One wonders how many actually care. I cannot help but think that the “established church” is seen as nothing more by the left as another organization that either must be silenced or for it to be brought over
    to their side so it can be another conduit for leftist propaganda, if it isn’t so already. Those leftists within and outside of the established church do not care about the convictions of conservatives within the church simply because they are not “one of us”. The only thing that matters to them is their man-centered ideology thinly disguised as their theology and having it implemented by as many sympathetic and/or obedient followers as possible regardless of their place in the church.

    I do hope I haven’t strayed from the original intent of your post.

  • carl jacobs

    So. The people have corrupted themselves and have made for themselves a golden idol in their own image to worship. The politicians pander to the corrupt desires of the people. The CoE follows behind like a castrated servant in tow. There is nothing to wonder at in all this.

  • TropicalAnglican

    I had actually bookmarked the horrendous “Ban conservative bishops until we have gender equality” item some days ago, but didn’t comment as I didn’t want to be off-topic,and anyway it took me at least 2-3 attempts before I eventually got through the article.
    The so-called theologian Martyn Percy is a prime example of an illiberal liberal. I know you could have told that from the title already, but just look at the analogy he uses:

    “Using the analogy of the smoking ban he writes: ‘It is not “illiberal” to regard “designated smoking zones” inside restaurants as anti-social. Nor is it “illiberal” to resist new requests for shared spaces being opened up for smokers, in order to compensate for their loss of old customary public places.'”

    That’s how much respect he has for conservative bishops!

    And to think that the liberals call Trump a “Nazi”…

    • carl jacobs

      Give him his church. He and his ilk possess it anyways. So simply let him have what he wants. His church will be moribund in ten years and dead in twenty. Liberal clergy love liberal religion. Hardly anyone else thinks that it is worth the bother – certainly not enough to pay for it.

      Come out from it and let them possess what they have taken. Truly they will have received their reward.

      • Royinsouthwest

        Doesn’t he have a university position? He wouldn’t be too worried if his own church closed down as long as he still had an academic sinecure. He could still write articles about how the church should be run without the handicap of having to oversee a real church.

      • A Berean

        “Give him his church. He and his ilk possess it anyways. So simply let him have what he wants.” Personally I fail to see how that would solve anything. If we should simply let them have it then they would no doubt claim it as a major victory. And should we move to form or join with a more conservative tradition then they will no doubt want to take over that as well all with the objective of silencing opposition.

        • Anton

          No. The church liberals want the Established church with its political links, its buildings and its money. In short, they want the brand name. The liberals are indifferent to the free churches.

          I don’t think that people should call on the CoE’s evangelicals to quit for the Frees. I think we should call on them EITHER to quit for the Frees (as I did) OR fight hard within the CoE. But they should not just sit supinely.

          • A Berean

            I respectfully disagree. It’s all about ideology. Isn’t the CoE referred to as “The Conservative Party at prayer”? While I’m sure the liberals would really appreciate having the CoE’s assets Conservatives know liberal ideology no matter how it’s presented. Conservatives are discerning people and for the most part know them for who they are, wolves in sheep’s clothing.

          • Anton

            You are a generation out of date if you think the CoE is the Tory party at prayer. Today it is the Labour party at prayer.

            I’m not sure what in my comment you are disagreeing with. I am disagreeing with those who say the CoE evangelicals MUST stay in the CoE to fight, and I am also disagreeing with those who say they MUST quit for the nonconformists. I am saying simply that they must do one or the other and not just sit back and watch the liberal takeover of the CoE get completed.

          • jsampson45

            Personally I would be interested to know how evangelicals can fight in the C of E. Fighting presupposes a desire to win, and a strategy for that purpose.

          • Anton

            That has been discussed here before at length early in the year, but the core of it is evangelical parishes witholding money from the hierarchy. I know that that raises further questions; please see the relevant threads.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Fighting also presupposes a predisposition to get hurt, and even lose. And they [mostly] simply don’t want to do either.

          • jsampson45

            One can get hurt, or lose, without fighting, too.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed, but those who do nothing convince themselves that they won’t.

          • Owl

            Ah, the Fabians. G.B. and the red boys.

          • carl jacobs

            As long as fighting includes “Don’t give the hierarchy any money.” But really that’s the same as leaving.

      • John

        No. Fight the good fight of faith; don’t buy the devil a welcome mat.

        • Chefofsinners

          Too late for that. He’s got his feet up on the coffee table.

        • carl jacobs

          How do you propose to recover the hierarchy of the CoE? Percy is seeking to establish a new orthodoxy and demanding that leadership assent to this new orthodoxy. They are precluding conservatives from leadership little by little. Eventually conservatives will exist only at the sufferance of liberals and that condition is what Percy defines as “mutual flourishing”.

          Unless you have some plan with a reasonable chance of victory, you fight in vain.

          • Father David

            Sounds pretty heterodox to me!

          • carl jacobs

            When you end up like the conservatives in TEC, don’t say you weren’t warned.

          • Father David

            Ah, the Episcopalians across the pond, formerly PECUSA, now reduced to TEC – Good Lord, deliver us.

        • Percy should be given his P45 for insubordination to God. He’s a troublemaker.

      • Mike Stallard

        Why can’t he become a Methodist?

    • Chefofsinners

      One suspects that it is Percy who will be smoking. In the longer term.

  • Father David

    Now that Richard Chartres has retired to “DUNPRAYIN” I can think of no other bishop in the Church of England more significant or vital to the future survival of the Established Church than Philip North. What other bishop possesses his vision of the Kingdom, his concern for the poor, his zeal for evangelism and his apostolic authenticity?

    • Royinsouthwest

      God help us!

      • Father David

        I’m sure that he will Roy, I’m sure that he will!

  • alternative_perspective

    Seriously what is the point of it all, any more?
    These conversations go round and round.
    The CoE continues its long march in to oblivion.
    The liberals continue to plan and scheme.
    Evangelicals sit firmly on their bums.
    and Anglo-catholics remain unseen.
    Occasionally we get hopeful, suggestions of change from guest contributors.
    I feel like I should write a haiku.
    But what’s the point.

    • Mike Stallard

      A word about my own journey under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
      Yup, I left. Yup it was horrible for my family and me. After a few years of being disappointed (very) in the Catholic Church, I went, alone, to Spain and taught in Oviedo.
      I was a millionario immediately (in pesetas in the 1990s). I worshipped in an 8th century church – true. The priest wore a tweed jacket. On Good Friday, I was surprised to see the entire congregation kneel as the sacred shroud of Oviedo was processed into the Church – their version of the Shroud of Turin.
      The thurible at Compostella was dangerous, splendid and wonderful. It took six men to make it swing within inches of the celebrant.
      I was awed.
      Catholicism is, to me at any rate, very naughty, wonderful and always surprising.
      I never found this – or very rarely – as an Anglo-Catholic.

      • Paul Correa

        Except your pope is a clown.

      • Anton

        Linen yarn is naturally spun clockwise, in the so-called ‘S’ twist, and this always occurs if the spindle is spun from the bottom (with the whorl at the top). This has been the custom in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean since early times. If, on the other hand, the spindle is spun from the top (as when the whorl is at the bottom), the twist goes the other way, anti-clockwise, in what is known as a ‘Z’ twist. The custom in western Europe was to spin anti-clockwise, thus creating a ‘Z’ twist. The Sudarium of Oviedo, held to be the facecloth placed over Christ’s face in the tomb, has the Z-twist.

  • Chefofsinners

    Liberals will go to any lengths to destroy the Church and re-make it in their own image. No surprise that 1 Timothy is twisted to support that agenda.
    This morning on ‘Thought for the Day’ Bishop James Jones described breathlessly how a nameless American theologian had suggested that St Paul’s injunction that women should keep silent ‘may have been added to the bible at a later date’.
    Sadly I missed most of the castles of fancy which he built on this abomination of speculation, due to a sudden bout of projectile vomiting, followed by the urge to tear the radio from the car with my teeth and cast it into the fires of Mordor.
    It was hard to escape the feeling that the CoE, by giving the name ‘Christian’ to Satan’s servants, is itself irredeemably compromised. Jones is that most Laodicean of beasts, a liberal evangelical, a siren luring true Christians to shipwreck their faith on the rocks of the via media.

    • Father David

      Surely, in matters of faith, the retired Bishop of Liverpool (Cherie Blair’s appointment for her home city) is far to the left of the middle way? The biblical injunction to women seems to me to be fairly consonant with what we know elsewhere from the teaching of St. Paul.

      • Chefofsinners

        Yes, indeed. The term ‘via media’ is simply the ‘come hither’ of the harlot theologians.

        • carl jacobs

          Well put.

          • Chefofsinners

            Martyn Percy: Come hither and mutually flourish with me. Wink, wink, know what I mean? Imagine a child with my sex appeal and your brains.
            Conservative: Yes, but imagine a child with my sex appeal and your brains.

    • Sarky
      • Chefofsinners

        :-

        • bluedog

          It’s the letter ‘U’ in morse code. Obviously the Greek biblical scholars were ahead of their time.

          • Chefofsinners

            Ask a teenage boy and you’d get a different interpretation.

    • Maxine Schell

      I think women (feminists) are being duped and manipulated by those doing the devil’s work,
      perhaps they also having been duped and manipulated by the devil himself. He is a sly old snake, and Screwtape is a really “nice” fellow, who only promotes “fairness” and “equality”. What’s not to like!!

  • Inspector General

    To paraphrase Hermann Göring, “whenever I hear feeble platitudes like ‘mutual flourishing’ I want to reach for my gun”.

    There is no such thing as mutual flourishing. Not in nature certainly, (except for mutual symbiosis which is very unusual, and that’s quid pro quo if anything) , and as a concept it only exists in the minds of underminers. What appears as mutual flourishing, if examined closely, will show one organism out to thrive at the expense of another.

    And so it is with lady priests and feminist bishops let loose in the CoE…

    In the nineteenth century, some fellow thought it would be a marvellous idea to import Japanese Knotweed. For a noble purpose. To bind together. Not the fractious established church, of course, but newly constructed and thus partly unstable railway embankments. Japanese Knotweed lives on (…and on, and on…) and if you are unlucky enough to have it mutually flourishing in your garden, one is informed that you may well need to strike off gardening as a pursuit. But one would think it’s still far easier to remove Japanese Knotweed from your garden than it is to pull out feminism from Christ’s church now it has established roots therein…

    • Mike Stallard

      I wonder how ordinary ordained ladies feel about the following:
      Being alone in a Church when a man walks in and starts talking to them.
      Visiting houses in the parish and entering them when you have not previously met the householders.
      Kiddies services in place of Morning and Evening Prayer.
      Lifting heavy objects like Altars and doing odd jobs up ladders.
      The dignity of Cranmer’s liturgy in an historic building.
      Their husband’s position within the parish?

      • Inspector General

        The feminists would say “what’s the problem”. “You think that women cannot do what men do”

        Instead of co-operation between the sexes as one would think Christ was about, we have rivalry. All very sad…

        • Mike Stallard

          The fact is simple: women, in my own experience and that of my close family, generally are not visiting their parishioners, they are not happy when alone in a church with a strange man, they are not taking the sacraments round to the sick and dying.
          It is all very different to the traditional Church where I was brought up all those years ago.

          • Inspector General

            You-are-a-wise-man-sir

          • Mike Stallard

            At last – the recognition which I deserve!

            :0)

    • David

      Dear Inspector, I have vanquished Japanese Knotweed by persistent use of all the approved methods combined, plus a little harsher move of my own. In a slightly unorthodox move I saturated the system with neat, pure chemical poison poured directly down the hollow stems. Of course I was in a safety suit and goggles during said operation. It took me and my doughty neighbour some three years but we did it !
      They don’t like it up ’em !

      • Inspector General

        Praise be David, but noxious chemicals in the water table!

        Now,to-work.Can-you-do-the-same-with-feminism-in-the-church.And-also-while-you-are-at-it-organised-buggery-therein.The-latter-doing-its-best-from-stopping-an-Inspector-from-posting…

        • David

          The plant is one thing, as the chemicals with be changed within the plants entire system, killing it and becoming harmless to us. But feminism is a bigger more deeply entrenched invasive plant one fears ….

      • Anton

        Not that difficult. Three applications of double strength Roundup solution and considerably more of it per square foot than stated on the container did the trick. You should do this after an extended dry spell so that the plants are thirsty, and – apparently oddly – let them grow beforehand. You want the maximum leaf area to absorb the stuff.

        There are about a zillion government regulations about what to do and what not to do about with the stuff but this did the trick comprehensively and I don’t think it contravenes any.

        • David

          That’s the spirit.
          Also all dead material must be allowed to rot in situ and must not be burnt, as burring spreads tiny regrowths. Cutting them does however help to exhaust them. I sprayed them, then two days later cut them, then using a welding rod to break through their internal stem divisions before pouring in neat elixir. Then repeat twice a year for three years ! Bingo ! They’re systemically dead.

          • Anton

            It’s obvious why the EU wants to ban RoundUp: it works.

          • David

            Yes indeed !

          • magnolia

            It’s actually one of the few sensible things the EU is doing. There is startlingly clear evidence it is implicated in bee decimation. I wasn’t surprised to see that as when I have seen neighbours out with the roundup a few days later I observed dead bees-bumblebees and more ordinary ones all over the pavements and buddleias and lavender and other bee magnets eerily near-empty.

            Monsanto is a pretty grim outfit, too, but let me not go too far off topic, (though I find the actual main topic bringing out unattractive, unsympathetic, grouchy, mean-minded and unobservant attitudes against females which I do not wish to debate- ever!! What’s the point?)

          • Anton

            Don’t trust everything you read.

            The claim that neonicotinoids (‘neonics’) such as the active ingredient in RoundUp is killing bees is far from proven. The inference is typically made from studies in which many other relevant variables are not taken into account, or by questionable extrapolation from the effects of sublethal doses. But there is absolutely no doubt that the varroa mite kills bees, and

            Australia is one of the few nations in the world to have remained free of varroa mite (so far). And Australia – which has cellphones and towers, migratory and commercial beekeeping, neonic pesticides in agriculture, high fructose corn syrup for supplemental feeding, and environmental factors like drought and urbanization and all the rest – has had zero incidents of colony collapse disorder.

            https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/5-things-that-probably-arent-killing-honeybees-and-1-thing-that

          • bluedog

            Why is Monsanto a pretty grim outfit? Was your opinion formed as a result of dealings with Monsanto and its products? Or is your view based on information derived from a secondary source such as an article in the Guardian?

          • IanCad

            Got rid of an 80ft. Leylandi by drilling a few 1/2″ holes and pouring a pint of RoundUp into them. Took about a month for the wretched thing to snuff it.

          • Anton

            Bet its owner next door wasn’t too happy though!

          • IanCad

            I only treated the half that was on our property. The neighbours seem much happier and healthier now that they receive some sunshine. Besides that, a couple of year’s supply of firewood is not to be sniffed at.

  • The Duke of Umberland, England

    This is what the British constitution, democracy, freedom and civil liberty will lose if the Church of England becomes extinct:

    ‘A God-centred theology still has something to say to the modern world, to our national life, social life, civic life, family life and personal life. The Christian conscience may still judge the acts of the State, even when to do so is an offence to 90 per cent of its fellow citizens.’

    Government will only be able to present man-made rights, without foundation in objective morality (revelation), and conclude enforcement by might and not by right.

    Tyranny.

    • carl jacobs

      The CoE only fulfills those functions in a formal sense. The CoE itself is quite dead and thus you have already lost what you seek to preserve.

      • The Duke of Umberland, England

        She very much alive and will continue to grow stronger with the False Prophet:

        “I have much against you, because you are tolerating your wife Jezebel who says about herself that she is a Prophetess, and teaches and seduces my Servants to commit fornication and to eat the sacrifices of idols.”

        Rev 2:20

  • Mike Stallard

    OK. Way back in 1989, when Archbishop Spong ordained a divorcee as a bishop, I left the CoE. I could see that the passage quoted above by St Paul was simply disregarded. At Lincoln Theological College (now closed) the teachers laughed when I quoted it. And when I quoted Genesis on the difference between the sexes, they sneered.
    The Methodists have, for years, had women priests and bishops, although they changed the names. Without the traditional (almost) robes and the sacraments, it works, up to a point.
    What intrigues me is how very long it has taken for the CoE to fall into chaos – almost a quarter of a century in fact.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Much of the Methodist church is in as bad a theological situation as the CofE, and they still want to rejoin the CofE.

      • Mike Stallard

        My father’s favourite joke:
        Scottish Presbyterian when asked about the size of his dwindling congregation:
        “Terrrrrrible. But thank God, the Methodists are doing nae’ better!”

        • Dominic Stockford

          Forgive me for being dense, but I don’t understand how that joke is relevant here?

          • Mike Stallard

            It was a spin off from your comment on the decay of Methodism.

    • Brian

      Lincoln Theol Coll closed years ago. Were you an ordinand there? It was always on the liberal or liberal catholic side – and never very robust.

      • Mike Stallard

        Yup – and there were lots of women who were expecting to be ordained there too. Catholic – my foot! Lots of dressing up and parading about and lots of fruity voices, but the theology was, frankly, liberal. It is no great shame that it closed although the shortage of clergy today could do with it reopening on a firmer basis.

    • Royinsouthwest

      There are worse things than being divorced. God “ordained” a murderer called Moses as a prophet. As I have never been married I do not have a self-serving motive in pointing this out.

      • Mike Stallard

        And the prophet Hosea had troubles in this area too, I believe.
        My trouble was that I took St Paul’s words at face value.

        • Anton

          “In this theological college you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, for I have overcome this theological college.”

          • Mike Stallard

            Do you know what? I gained more from the theological College and from my subsequent disillusionment than I would have done in years and years of happy ministry (like my father, grandfather and great grandfather did before me.)

  • not a machine

    To be succinct to your graces question ,the CofE has been going through internal changes and various sides claim triumph of its gentle civil war ,this has unsettled a number of areas previously considered vocational duty into enlightened thought for our times. Bishop North would have faced all those who are full of pride with the changes they have enabled and expected him to share there disdain for what went before.
    If one encounters church politics let alone who or whom may be on firm theological ground ,one finds a rather interesting area for pros to make intelligent people seem unlearned , and it is perhaps one of the most highest challenges to understand where what you may have as knowledge starts to become a matter of faith or as my old priest defined as pilgrimage.
    The only thing that I am sure of, is that Jesus Christ/god exists, parish and theological combat is very challenging and at times difficult .There is nothing particularly wrong , with a service as an expression of Gods love in what may be termed rather vague left concepts, you usually find they find the old testament shocking and that says to me ,they are by default modernisers , well mannered perhaps well intentioned who see social effects and solutions and compared to the more intense grumpiness of my learning they at least sound very nice to outsiders.
    Pope Francis recently intoned/admitted in the very long pauses between Roman Catholicism and whatever protestant means these days Q and A, that Protestantism had created a long legacy of actual bible reading and study ….. read into that what the Holy father considers for yourselves.
    The Anglo Catholic faith is in an outbuilding on the CofE estate ,just incase the new church feelings need to point out the past or heretics , they can be talked to allowed to conduct services , perhaps not consulted or thanked , but you know tolerated by modernisers busy with life , and on no account could a catholic contemporary sermon be given/allowed incase ,someone points out , it contains , things like good and evil, man and wife , tax collector or an appeal to Caesar if you are already a citizen .Catholic so termed sermons can be strong meat and perhaps too full of burdens , my Anglo catholic priest was a well studied theologian and very secure in his faith , as for all his study and efforts he had arrived at a belief in the teachings of the bible , were the expression of/from God , the toil that we should understand in being of service within Gods/Jesus church.
    Bishop North seems to me , to be rather highlighted as controversial , 40 plus years ago he wouldn’t have been , I shall miss those ministers who were the living theology , the wet clay always being shaped and who challenged you to make the meanings of the Bible work in your own life and in the lives of others , the great sharing and communion ,trying to find love and humility, contemplation being a high function , not something of a taster session in other celebration activities.
    Bishop North has his own journey ,as with all those who love and follow chirst as best they can ,the only thing I can pray for ,is for God to teach his wisdom and for you to be ready or able to receive it ,my understanding is that God is in the old and new testaments , as his wisdom and his son Jesus Christ.

    • Royinsouthwest

      A long, thoughtful and sincere comment.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Hmmm. ‘gentle civil war’!!!? As one who has been on the edges of this I can assure you that it is far from gentle. It is vicious, personal, and abusive.

      Oh, and our south american RC churchman isn’t the ‘holy father’ – “call no man your father save your father in heaven”.

      • not a machine

        well yes I have seen that personal and abusive aspect also , as for RC my personal feelings are we have dialogue ,in a way we have not seen before the RC church may look back as we do and ponder the new meanings , but I doubt neither can err from one holy spirit and that gives me a deep faith that we will discuss more , if only to help those who Christ came as salvation for .I see Holy father may be a charged title to those who see things as religion only , and my encounters with the RC church suggest it is more than that .

  • Chefofsinners

    Of course Martyn Percy believes in mute-you-all flourishing. Everybody else shut up so he can flourish. It’s his via MEdia.
    But I believe our priests and politicians have confused the Church of England with the Bank of England. Easy mistake to make. One is focused on money above all else and the other is the Bank of England. And they have this in common: record low interest rates.

    • Spot on with your analysis there Chef.

    • Royinsouthwest

      When Gordon Brown was chancellor of the exchequer the Bank of England was given freedom in matters of monetary policy. Does the Church of England have freedom in matters of spiritual policy?

      • Chefofsinners

        When Gordon Brown was chancellor the Bank of England sold off all its gold at rock bottom prices. The CoE has done the same with the treasures of the faith.

        • Manfarang

          The Bank of England can print money. Only the Caliphate has the gold dinar.

          • Chefofsinners

            I’ve got a gold American Express. Is that the same?

          • Manfarang

            That will do nicely

          • Anton

            Maybe.

      • Manfarang

        The Protestant Church for all people.

  • Martin

    A bishop, according to Scripture, is an elder/overseer, one of several in each local assembly of God’s people, aka church, not part of a hierarchy that includes such strange terms as vicar, rector, dean and arch-whatever.

    But then the CoE has never bothered too much about Scripture preferring to talk of tradition, which is man made of course. Perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost.

    • Chefofsinners

      Arch-aeologist, len. It’s a kind of vicar that studies the last time the CoE was actually Christian.

      • Martin

        Len?

        • Chefofsinners

          Martin?

          • carl jacobs

            What possible definition of “fundamentalist” could fuse Martin & Len?

            Oh, and strictly speaking you are also a fundamentalist. At least according to Machen.

  • len

    The C of E is becoming an institution to give the mark of ‘respectability ‘ to anything that our corrupt , immoral society need approval for.
    The C of E has become the little sister of her harlot mother.
    But having said this there are some churches who have not soiled themselves and can be sought out with guidance from above.

  • Linus

    The 128 Conservatives who voted against equal marriage are highly significant. They represent the rump of homophobic resistance to equality and as such are sitting ducks for deselection and/or early retirement.

    If their removal is followed by the selection of a large, androgynous, preferably licorice allsort ear-ringed lesbian in their place, so much the better.

    When Rees-Mogg falls, I gather they’re lining up Sandi Toksvig as a replacement.

    • Anton

      Not you? Go for it, Linus…

      • Linus

        British Conservatives voting for a French member? That might be pushing it a little far, don’t you think?

        No, Ms Toksvig is a much better prospect. Suitably Danish, and therefore Aryan, with an accent that can out-Mogg Mogg any day, and extremely sound politically.

        Besides, if I were an MP, I’d have to move back to Britain and quite honestly I can’t imagine anything I’d like less. The day I shook the dust (or mud, to be more accurate) of your nasty little outpost from my shoes as I boarded the train that took me home to freedom was one of the happiest of my life.

        I don’t often have a surge of fellow feeling with a Bourbon (quite the stupidest family ever to have reigned over us), but the relief of Dona Carlota Joaquina as she boarded the vessel that would bear her back to Lisbon and civilisation is well-known to me. How happy she must have been. I know I was.

        • layreader

          Sometiimes this site is in danger of disappearing up its own irony.

          • ‘Tis true. Happy Jack believes it’s Carl’s influence.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack!

          • Carl!

          • carl jacobs

            So are you out of the Hospital?

          • Yes, for now. Jack has had a couple of operations on his throat and has to recover before returning for a “endovascular abdominal aortic aneurysm repair “. The surgeon is hoping this will work, thus avoid cutting Jack open. Because it’s uncertain, Jack has to have another general anaesthetic. Hence the delay. Feeling very weary with it all, to be honest. A strange few weeks when one has been confronted with one’s own mortality in a very vivid manner. It’s a blessing, in an odd sort of way, where one feels torn between this world and the next.

          • Anton

            May you be in no pain and may your faith in Christ increase. (The latter clause is not a dig.)

          • Thank you. One’s faith in and experience of Christ increases with pain and suffering, Anton.

          • Anton

            Indeed: God says so early in Romans 5.

          • Jack’s current perspective is expressed by Paul in Philippians 1:21-24 but without the evangelist’s very clear sense of earthly purpose and mission. Whilst he still believes he is useful in this life, Jack will endure until he is called home.

          • dannybhoy

            Or it could just be pain ‘n suffering?
            Danny smacked his head on the bottom of a wall unit whilst vacuuming last week. Then to cap it all the vacuum hose knocked a vase off the book case under the wall unit.
            Danny was too busy holding his head to stop it. Indeed he took a rather warped comfort from the vase’s shattering experience.
            So what did I gain from putting a dent in my noddle that made me feel sick and rather peeved?
            Not a lot.
            May be that vacuuming is a dangerous business, best avoided..

          • Pubcrawler

            It’s taken you this long to work that out?

          • Anton
          • dannybhoy

            Woww!
            How embarrassing!
            How mortifying!

          • CliveM

            How funny!

          • dannybhoy

            Reminds me of this classic from Laurel and Hardy..

            Amazing to think Stan (the one that looks like you), was born in Ulverston..

          • Cressida de Nova

            We need you in this world for a while longer. Welcome back. You have been missed.x

          • Thank you, Cressie.

          • dannybhoy

            Danny’s theory of ‘bounce’;

          • Hm ….

          • dannybhoy

            Ha! Danny is struggling to understand how his new iPad works, and finds that some things require a delicate, butterfly touch and others like closing a window in Safari equire hard prodding with a stubby digit…
            Danny is not renowned for being delicate or patient and I thought I’d deleted it.
            Anyway great to have you back Jack. You must be feeling very drained, so don’t overdo it.
            -You will probably get better a lot quicker if you try being nice to people for a change…
            Carefully typed on my old laptop..

          • Hm ….

          • dannybhoy

            :0)

          • Grouchy Jack

            Do one.

          • dannybhoy

            So soon?
            Here we all are with visions of this pore auld misguided Catholic, who has been languishing on a hospital bed somewhere in the wilds of Dundreary, tubes coming out of and into every orifice..
            We’ve been thinking nice thoughts, worrying about you (and your salvation), and trying to remember anything nice you ever said to anybody….
            Sighhhh..
            How long O Lord, how long?

          • Pubcrawler

            Do you get invited to do many eulogies?

          • dannybhoy

            I’m working on it.. but you have to start somewhere..
            And Jack’s a good place to start on.

          • Anton

            I’m going to one tomorrow. Two weddings and a funeral so far this late summer/autumn.

          • Pubcrawler

            I went to one last week, the third of a likely four funerals this year. No weddings.

          • dannybhoy

            You want funerals. come to Norfolk. We’re nearly all down to our last ounce of bounce..

          • Pubcrawler

            I don’t exactly seek them out.

            At the present rate of demise I’m beginning to wonder who will be left to come to mine.

          • dannybhoy

            Alexa might be free…

          • Grouchy Jack

            Keep orifices out of this conversation, please, or you’ll set the Inspector off.

          • dannybhoy

            He must get through an awful lot of batteries..

          • carl jacobs

            My dad had an aortic aneurysm removed at age 82. I suspect you’ll be around here awhile. Heck, we haven’t even got the chance to abuse you about Pope Francis yet.

          • Jack has been given the task of converting you to the One true Church. Not until then will his work here will be completed.

            The Inspector has been left to the Angels.

          • Anton

            Only one man ever died with his work completed…

          • Rather, we only know of one man that we can say this with certainty – and that’s because He came back and confirmed it.

          • carl jacobs

            converting you to the One true Church

            And here I thought you were trying to snooker me into becoming a Roman Catholic.

          • Jack will settle for membership of the Syro-Malabar rite, or one of the other Oriental Catholic Churches, if it makes you more amenable.

          • Pubcrawler

            Sounds most unpleasant. Good to see you back, old chap.

            circumdederunt me dolores mortis pericula inferni invenerunt me tribulationem et dolorem inveni
            et nomen Domini invocavi o Domine libera animam meam
            misericors Dominus et iustus et Deus noster miseretur
            custodiens parvulos Dominus humiliatus sum et liberavit me

          • Thank you.
            Placebo Domino in regione vivorum.

          • Pubcrawler

            Amen

          • Anton

            Placebo Domingo? Somewhere I’ve a CD he made with Pavarotti.

          • CliveM

            Welcome back, I hope and pray that you can soon enjoy a time of peace, with your current trials finished.

            Besides Carl was getting too confident.

          • Thank you.
            Carl’s American. By definition, he’s over confident.

          • carl jacobs

            My natural American humbleness prevents me from correcting you.

          • Hm ….

            Carl Uriah Heep Jacobs – too ‘umble for this blog.

          • carl jacobs

            I was thinking more along the lines of Hondo Lane.

          • Jack worries about you, Carl.

          • dannybhoy

            Aggressive, I thought.
            Scary….

          • Grouchy Jack

            Snowflake.

          • CliveM

            Who, me or Carl?!

          • dannybhoy

            Carl.
            But you were a close second Clive, honestly..

          • CliveM

            Must try harder eh?

          • dannybhoy

            No, we like you just the way you are.

          • CliveM

            A minority view that I feel.

          • dannybhoy

            You’re too modest Clive,
            -or are you hoping for more compliments?

          • CliveM

            You’ve clearly not spoken to the wife!

          • David

            Clive “aggressive” ?

          • Hooray Happy Jack is back !

            Shanah Tovah Umetukah & Tizku Leshanim Rabbot!

          • Ne’imot VeTovot.

          • IanCad

            How very good to see you back!!!

          • Thank you. It’s good to be back, IanCad.

          • Chefofsinners

            Welcome back, you little ray of sunshine.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, let’s go that far. How about “Welcome back, you worthless piece of grapefruit rind.”

          • Grouchy Jack

            Someone once commented: “The trouble with America is that there are far too many wide open spaces surrounded by teeth.”

          • Chefofsinners

            Whereas in Scotland they’re surrounded by gums.

          • Why thank you, Chef. You have a good memory.

          • dannybhoy

            Welcome back Jack!

          • Great to see you back HJ.

          • Thank you, Marie.

        • Besides, if I were an MP, I’d have to move back to Britain and quite honestly I can’t imagine anything I’d like less.

          Me too.

        • Anton

          When was she in England?

          • Linus

            She wasn’t. She was in Brazil. But the analogy holds. She left a primitive backwater to return to civilisation, just as I did when I left London to return to Paris.

          • Anton

            I’m sure the Brazilians are delighted with your description.

          • bluedog

            Meanwhile in Paris, following the German elections, one notes that Macron has dug deep into his random bullshit generator in order to try and tempt les Rosbifs back into the EU. Some of us are not that easily fooled, and can recognise instant panic when we see it. The prospect looms of Frau Merkel clinging to power with an extremely unpleasant neo-nazi party snapping at her heals. What if the next Reichskanzler but one is a member of AfD? Sacre bleu! Ring the Rosbifs and remind them of our shared sacrifices etc, etc, etc.

          • Linus

            That really is the most notable Pixtian talent, isn’t it? Few are better at conjuring up flights of fancy.

            By all means spin a minority protest vote into an unstoppable popular tidal wave. Such predictions didn’t bring Ukip to power. They didn’t win the French elections for the much more solidly-established FN. Nothing can. These parties just don’t have the popular support needed to win a majority. All they can do is sit on the sidelines and snipe at whoever’s in power.

            AfD is the same, only even more unstable than Ukip and the FN. On the very first day after the election, it started to split apart. As an unholy alliance of disparate factions united by hatred alone, it’s unlikely it will ever do anything except fall apart at the seams. What pulls it apart is much stronger than what holds it together.

            It can never come to power. Germany has a model for what a chancellor elected on a platform of fear and xenophobia looks like. It won’t be going down that route again.

            And if Macron has issued an invitation to Britain to stay in the EU, it’s only because it makes economic sense. We don’t like you and never have, but then whoever said that you have to love your neighbour? Nobody who ever actually lived has ever come up with such a ridiculous creed. Put up with your neighbour, sure. Cooperate with him rather than entering into open warfare, which will harm you both even if you win. But love him?

            When your neighbour is Britain, you soon understand how unrealistic such a commandment really is. I mean, what’s to love?

          • bluedog

            It’s as though you haven’t noticed. Ever since the two Germanys became one, France has been very much the junior member of the partnership with Germany. Even though Britain is never considered as a member of this mystical union, France needs Britain close to hand as a counter-weight to Germany. So you may indeed not like us, but your independence depends on us being near by to bail you out, financially, diplomatically and from time to time, militarily. Humiliating really, no wonder you don’t like us. Perhaps we should form our own special partnership with Germany. They seem to think we’re related.

          • Anton

            Steady on, AfD aren’t neonazis just because they don’t want several million Muslims in Germany. The media love to it the camera on the minority of nutters in the party but don’t be taken in.

          • bluedog

            The objection to Merkel’s immigration disaster is not a problem. It’s just that the Germans tend to lurch between extremes. It’s still a relatively new country and doesn’t seem to have a settled view of itself, as Merkel the Ozzie has proved.

        • Chefofsinners

          Shandy toxic? Preferable to your French whines.

        • Royinsouthwest

          Why do so many French people live in London? What are you free to do in France that you are not free to do in Britain?

          • Hi

            Quite a lot of the French people in London are Jews, escaping antisemitism .

          • Linus

            London is full of two kinds of French people: those who work in finance or technology startups, for which London has always the European centre. And Jews, who have taken fright at an increase in anti-Semitic acts in France following the rise of both the Far Right and strident Pixlamism.

            As Britain exits the EU and finance and technology jobs move to the Continent, the French people who work in them will move too. In fact they already are moving. And as anti-Semitism is also on the rise in Britain (look at the goings-on at the Labour conference) many French Jews will probably move from London to Israel.

        • She’s a comedienne!

          • Linus

            And Mogg isn’t a comedian? A posh Mr Bean.

          • No of course not. He’s a highly intelligent, serious gentleman who’s nothing like Mr Bean.

    • Inspector General

      Those-128-represent-the-REAL-conservative-party.Not=the=list=wretches

  • layreader

    ‘The report, however, also reveals how far the centre of gravity in the Church of England has drifted from the general public and contemporary culture.’ Hooray! and more may it drift away. From New Testament times onwards, the Church has always questioned contemporary culture, because it has a much greater message than that. If it can’t, or won’t do that, it is weakened to the point of being invisible – a fact that declining attendances attest to.
    Only dead fish go with the flow.

    • Anton

      What has happened is that the culture has gone secular very fast and the CoE has done it rather slower. Hence the gap, which is no cause for rejoicing in that case.

    • David

      The C of E seems to dutifully follow two steps behind the ever changing secular culture, which it seldom challenges using the Gospel. Apart from conservative evangelical parishes like my own I see little to celebrate.

    • Sybaseguru

      Culture has discarded the concept of morality which can only logically exist if you believe in a god. The Liberal church has a mix of culture and religion that has no integrity, but sounds nice

      • layreader

        Even atheists would, I think, claim some sort of moralty about their lives. However, whatever their morality is it can carry no authority, and thus all moralities, however outlandish, are equally valid. That’s not a morality as I understand it, as each makes God in his own image.
        Alternatively, there’s the morality of zeitgeist, as dictated by whatever is the trendy issue of the day. What’s moral today might not be tomorrow. Is the church really going to live with this, or can it actually stand up and be counted, for once?
        I imagine a Sybase guru is a declining art. Are you not tempted by SQL or Oracle?

        • Sybaseguru

          The problem with morality is that it is non optimal for the individual, so it will always break down unless you have the promise of hell.

          I should add Rtd after my handle maybe.

      • petej

        Do you believe that it is immoral to have female church leaders?

  • The report, however, also reveals how far the centre of gravity in the Church of England has drifted from the general public and contemporary culture.

    Would that it were true!

  • Chefofsinners

    For ‘boarded’ read ‘was escorted onto’.

  • Linus

    I’m not generally, but the only other ways of getting from London to Paris involve either faffing about in airports and/or being stuck in suburban traffic jams.

    On the Eurostar I can get from central London to my Paris home in 3 hours. By air it’s at least 4, often 5 once you take traffic and security checks into account. And by car it takes even longer.

    Sacrificing comfort for speed is a trade-off I’m willing to make. Yes, the Eurostar is unpleasant, but I can always bathe when I get home.

    • And your helicopter?

      • Linus

        Oh Sky Pixie, the dead have risen! It must be judgment day…

        Factor in an hour either way stuck in traffic getting to and from the heliport, security delays, air traffic control delays and the time of the flight itself, and you’re looking at 3 hours at the very least, probably longer.

        Considering the exorbitant cost, there’s no reason to use a helicopter to fly between London and Paris when the Eurostar takes about the same time and costs virtually nothing in comparison. Only politicians and Russian oligarchs indulge in such ostentatious luxury these days. The rest of us wouldn’t dream of being so vulgar.

        • You mean you have no heliport?! Perhaps a hot air balloon next time.

      • David

        Good to see you blogging again Jack.
        I hope that the next stage goes well too.

        I don’t know why the rich use helicopters.
        Even the seriously big ones like the POTUS uses are incredibly, unbearably noisy.

    • Anton

      It’s not your body that needs washing though.

  • not a machine

    And to think we had Philippians 1:21-30 for lectionary reading on sunday …

  • len

    Helicopter must be having a service?

  • petej

    My view is the failure in this process came from the lack of support from the house of bishops. They must have known that there would be questions and criticism from both within and without the church. Instead of answering these (pretty obvious) questions and complaints, the bishops simply withdrew until North withdrew himself.