Church of England

#PastoralLetter (4): sowing old seeds cannot produce "new politics"


Having responded to the Preface of the Pastoral Letter from the House of Bishops “to the people and parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015″; and also to their first section, ‘Who is my Neighbour?’; and the second section ‘Christian faith and political activity’, we turn now to..

Actually, this has become such an unutterably tedious exercise – trying to respond thoughtfully to rather obvious statements of incarnational truth interspersed with interminable motherhood-and-apple-pie theological precepts – that it is bothersome to waste any more time or life contemplating such revelatory assertions as “Christians take sin seriously” and “Our nation faces deep divisions”. The Bishops affirm: “It behoves all people, including politicians, church leaders and opinion formers, to ‘think it possible that you may be mistaken’ – to use the words of Oliver Cromwell.” So, cutting out the bulk of the middle section, this will be the final response to their very, very long Pastoral Letter, not least because even those who bothered to read it have long forgotten its glimpses of worth.

It is worthwhile probing the episcopal acknowledgment of humility: “We do not set ourselves up as possessing superior knowledge about the state of our world or the detailed policies that would make it a better place.” Because that is precisely what they do in paragraph 120:

At this election, we can sow the seeds of a new politics. We encourage voters to support candidates and policies which demonstrate the following key values:
• Halting and reversing the accumulation of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands, whether those of the state, corporations or individuals.
• Involving people at a deeper level in the decisions that affect them most.
• Recognising the distinctive communities, whether defined by geography, religion or culture, which make up the nation and enabling all to thrive and participate together.
• Treating the electorate as people with roots, commitments and traditions and addressing us all in terms of the common good and not just as self-interested consumers.
• Demonstrating that the weak, the dependent, the sick, the aged and the vulnerable are persons of equal value to everybody else.
• Offering the electorate a grown up debate about Britain’s place in the world order and the possibilities and obligations that entails.

This section “encourages voters to support”certain policies, which, they say, will “sow the seeds of a new politics”. It is a very specific exhortation, and the “key values” by which the Bishops encourage the faithful to discern the candidates are clearly set out. The problem is that they are all framed in what may be viewed as traditional leftist thinking of the Christian Socialists: wealth redistribution; corporatism; anti-individualism; multiculturalism; communitarianism; anti-marketisation; equality; welfare; globalisation (if not Europeanisation).

How precisely is this partisan vernacular sowing the seeds of a “new politics”? Haven’t these policies been political aims and social objectives for decades, if not centuries? Bar the last point, don’t all the parties aspire to address all of these ages-old concerns in accordance with their venerable philosophical traditions? And which candidates are “Offering the electorate a grown up debate about Britain’s place in the world order”? Isn’t that intrinsic to an EU referendum campaign?

And where is the justice to which the Bishops allude in several earlier sections? It is one thing to exhort Christians to vote for those who care for “the weak, the dependent, the sick, the aged and the vulnerable”. But all candidates will do so, because they are essentially human and compassionate. People don’t generally aspire to public service in order to bash the weak, mock the dependent, neglect the sick, reject the aged or exploit the vulnerable. Or is there some caricature allusion here to the policies pursued by Iain Duncan Smith?

Why no mention of welfare abuse? What of job creation? Where is the justice for younger generations when Labour and the SNP want to borrow beyond our means and saddle our children and grandchildren with a century of debt? Why no mention of sound finance? Isn’t that perfectly biblical? When the Bishops talk about “intergenerational justice” (paras 117, 121), they hint at inheritance, which is the classic Socialist politics of envy.

And what of the accumulation of power and wealth in the collectives? The left has many vested interests, unions being the most obvious example, and they have had (and continue to have) considerable influence over Labour policies. Consider the observations of Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times on Ed Miliband’s failings, namely that he is blind to Labour’s special interest groups and vested interests. So, it seems, are the Bishops. Not least because their concern about “Halting and reversing the accumulation of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands” cannot be addressed without fundamental reform of (or departure from) the European Union – the ‘ever closer’ shift toward economic, monetary and political union, which is the mother of all collectives. And which bishops favour “a grown-up debate” on EU secession that doesn’t cast Ukip as ‘racist’, ‘xenophobic’ or “An annoying prejudiced blot on the political landscape“? Very grown-up.

There can be no “new politics” when the Bishops’ political priorities are set out in these traditional leftist terms, with a vehement denial that they have done any such thing. A “new politics” requires new seeds, and those seeds need planting on cultivated, fertile soil, and thereafter they need water, light and warmth. The left-wing prism of state, corporations and collectives is blind to the responsibilities of the individual and the imperative of liberty. A better society springs from a better self. A new politics can only spring from a renewed nation and a reformed polity which conceives the nurture of seedlings as the role of the individual for the good of the community; not the function of the state to impose a pre-ordained conception of the common good by means of a bundle of sticks and a bunch of carrots. Those on the right feel that the individual should be coerced less and treated with respect and afforded personal liberties; not caricatured as an atomised consumer obsessed with self and greed.

The aspiration to a “new politics” is fundamentally nullified when old policies are simply wrapped up in a bit of pompous prelacy. This whole Pastoral Letter may be thoughtful and well-meaning, but it goes nowhere near to offering anything new because the art of the possible is confined by the limits of enforceability. Perhaps its authors (or anyone at Church House) might explain? Perhaps a bishop (or two) might condescend to expound how these fossilised seeds might in any sense yield a “new politics”, because the lofty aspiration is sorely missing an earthly praxis. The invitation is open-ended.

  • Inspector General

    Bloody horrible read, eh Cranmer. Worthy of the most mundane red brick
    university socialist student faction. Though one does suspect that the blighters
    who knocked it up were not that much older. It’s message is of course people
    (and furry animals, come to that) matter. Nothing else does. We have to be
    ‘nice’ to each other, you see. Then we can spend the rest of our lives living in
    man’s heaven and not have to worry about silly things like where our children
    are going to live because of the housing shortage which will always be an
    inevitable curse of uncontrolled immigration, among many others.

    As a colleagues nine year old daughter would put it, “what a load of poop”…

    • Uncle Brian

      As a colleagues nine year old daughter would put it, “what a load of poop”…
      Or as Frank would put it in Everybody Loves Raymond, “holy crap” .

      • Inspector General

        Her mummy brought her in yesterday. Schools out for two weeks. Your Inspector couldn’t remember her name so said “Hello You!”. She looked sternly with ‘You’ has a name! written all over her face. But the Inspector triumphed by returning similar with ‘Yes, but I can’t remember it’

  • Inspector General

    Of course, having struck UKIP off the list of preferred parties to vote
    for, let’s see what one of the bishops choices are up to. Bear in mind this is
    the insane season, and those renegades will say anything to secure your rotten

    “The Lib Dems have pledged to extend same-sex marriage law to allow any UK national to marry a non-UK national same-sex partner at embassies.The manifesto
    commitment was announced by Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Tim Farron,Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone and DfID minister Baroness Northover.In it, they also announced that “marriage and rights that come with it will be fully recognised in UK law”, and that the Foreign Office diplomatic network of the Lib Dems will push for the decriminalisation of homosexuality abroad.” (Pink News)

    Holy Moly, Sodom here we come! Bishops, what have you got to say about that then. New pastoral letter required warning about more pressing evils and naming the parties that would bring them in, don’t you think…

    • dannybhoy

      ” Bishops, what have you got to say about that then?”
      Perhaps they had a break for the new season’s robe review?

      (Model sashays down the catwalk..)
      “And this year, pink ribbons carelessly sewn around the mitre interspersed with green sequins show our commitment to share and care. Note the new eco friendly bendy flexi staff made from recycled plastic bags .. “

      • Inspector General

        They’ve handed the see of Gloucester to a woman, sadly. She’s “deeply caring” they say, but not when it comes to upsetting the necessary patriarchal order of the church.

      • preacher

        Thanks for brightening up a dull morning dannyboy. ROFL.

  • dannybhoy

    • Recognising the distinctive communities, whether defined by geography,
    religion or culture, which make up the nation and enabling all to
    thrive and participate together.

    You’re sure you haven’t quoted from from the Green Party manifesto by mistake?

    I would have thought that exhorting us all to serve God (the Christian version) honour the Queen and obey the law (British version) would have been more in line with represenatives of the State Church..

    I quote from an article about Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore..

    “Some of my Western friends who have never lived here for any period
    of time have sometimes self-righteously proclaimed, no doubt after reading the clichés in the media, that they could never live under the ‘stifling and draconian’ laws that we have. My answer to them is simple:
    Are you the sort to urinate in public when a toilet isn’t available, the sort to vandalise public property, the sort that would leave a mess in a public toilet that you share with others? Are you perhaps a drug smuggler? Because we execute those.

    Or maybe you molest women? Because we would whip you. Are you the sort that would get drunk and then get into fights and maybe beat up a stranger in the bar? Back home you may get away with it but if you are that sort, then maybe this place isn’t for you. In short, are you a civilised person who wants to
    live in a civilised society? Because the things you cannot do in Singapore are precisely the sort that civilised people should not do anyway. If you are, you have nothing to fear.”

    full article here..

    I would suggest a similar red blooded robust exhortation from the Bishops would do far more for the peace, happiness and security of our nation than that wishy washy nonsense.

    • Shadrach Fire

      A friend of Gillan had this article referenced to on Gillan’s Twitter.
      Seems to me that Christians in the Green Party are actually ‘Green’ in their thinking, their maturity and their theological understanding. You can’t say,’well I know they support gay marriage, abortion and murdering the elderly’ but they have some great ecological policies for saving the earth. Money is the root of all evil, Oh; I’m sorry, they did say the Love of Money but in reality it is all about envy.

    • Mike Stallard

      I have just got back from Singers.
      On Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, the local Police Station was closed. Boys and girls walk hand in hand through the malls. I looked hard for teenagers being horrid and found none. It is lovely.
      Good old Lee Kwan Yew.

      • dannybhoy

        I remember him as a young man being greatly admired by western nations. But that was when the Western world still recognised the value of discipline and personal responsibility..
        Here’s a little synopsis on the man and his achievements…
        Just one snippet from it sums up for me where the West has gone wrong..

        Lee has left behind a legacy of an efficiently run country and as a leader
        who brought prosperity unheard of before his tenure, at the cost of a mildly authoritarian style of government.

        ‘Mildly authoritarian’ is enough to earn the disapproval of our politically correct liberal and non judgmental establishment with its equally non judgmental, liberal and inclusive Church..
        Compare and contrast.

  • educynic

    Sweet, well-intentioned but, sadly, misguided. With the best of intentions, these naïve clerics would drive us steadily towards the left.

  • Readers know Happy Jack’s position on the state of modern Western culture and where it is all heading. It is disappointing for Jack that the Bishops have set nothing out on the family and approaches to the grave crisis it faces. Without a strong family talk of all the rest means little.

    How does the Church interact with our culture on the issues of marriage and the family? Where is the argument demonstrating that permanent and fruitful marriages (if not and traditional teaching on contraception, undermined in 1930 and then 1958 by the Church of England) makes for happier ­marriages, happier families, happier children, and strong, communal societies? Where is the attack on the deconstruction of marriage and the family that is overwhelming Western society and sending the welfare budgets through the roof?

    The Church should be teaching the truth about marriage, about love, and about the complementarity of the sexes and demanding politicians do so too. Good families are the path to happiness and communal wellbeing and not the road to repression and misery as the modernists profess. The Church should be urging its members to call on our politicians to make a sold case in defense of Christian marriage. This is what promotes the dignity of people and a strong economy.

    • preacher

      ‘Morning Jack. The Church should leave politics alone ( Even Rats have the sense to leave a sinking ship ) & concentrate on Preaching the Gospel.

      • Maybe, Preacher. However, the prevailing culture has to be fought by the Church and politicians held to account for the sustained assault on and destruction of the family and the consequential harm this is bringing to society.

        Perhaps the real problem is that the Church is adopting the ill-considered politics of the Left with a focus on collective living rather the need for God’s grace in our individual and family lives.

        What Gospel is the Church preaching?

        • CliveM

          The Gospel of ‘Relevance’.

          But it’s the old story, the more you strive to be relevant, the less relevant you really are.

          These Bishops are like a middles age men, in tight fitting jeans, at a rave. Everyone feels slightly embarressed for them but to avoid guilt by association, give them a clear birth.

          • dannybhoy


    • dannybhoy

      Well put Jack.

    • Inspector General

      Preach family values, or to give them their full title, ‘traditional family values’?
      You must be joking. What about the single women who go it alone and have children, you heartless sod. They have rights too, you know, as any woman bishop will tell you…

      • *hangs head in shame*

        Yes, Inspector. what Happy Jack thinking? Clearly he was being judgemental.

        • Inspector General

          The bishops are no fools after all. To be a bishop means you have to bishop about something. Far easier is it to whine about political abstracts than to criticise human behaviour when it clearly deviates from God’s intentions. That way you don’t upset anybody, which is probably nearer the CoE’s mission than saving souls….

      • Shadrach Fire

        ‘It is not good that man should dwell alone’. (Nor a Woman)

    • DanJ0

      “The Church should be teaching the truth about marriage, about love, and about the complementarity of the sexes and demanding politicians implement legislation that strengthens them.”

      Legislation that does what?

      • Anton

        Provides financial encouragement through the tax system for married couples to stay together and to have children – moreover, encouragement not available to couples who are merely cohabiting. That would be a good start.

        • And this too ….

        • DanJ0

          It would need to be a hefty tax incentive, I expect.

          • CliveM

            Is the tax relief contingent on the husband beating the wife? Is that why I’m taxed disadvantagely in relation to single parents?

          • DanJ0

            The proposed encouragement is for married people to stay together. Why wouldn’t they stay together, having got married, unless there were reasons to separate? Such as domestic violence. Or unfaithfulness. Or simply growing apart. How would (say) £1000 a year make those things go away? Or at least be bearable.

          • CliveM

            Lots of studies say that one of the major triggers for marriage problems are concerns over finances. If the Tax System can be used to help address that, under the assumption that bringing up children in a stable home environment, why shouldn’t there be tax benefits?

          • Anton

            The proportion of couples in which that happens is very small and my proposal was not made with them in mind. They remain free to separate.

      • You’re bright, so work it out. Here’s some starters for ten to contemplate:

        A rise in the age of sexual consent to 21 years; changes to ‘no fault’ quickie divorce law; changes to abortion on demand; changes to ‘protected status’ for homosexuality; changes to same sex ‘marriage’ law; changes to fostering and adoption law; changes to the welfare system that lets men behave with sexual irresponsibility; changes to the law that permits professionals to withhold information from parents on children’s sexual activities and administer them contraception and arrange abortions “in confidence”.

        In short, deconstruct the whole sexual liberalisation programme and the ideology on which it is based.

        • sarky

          Age of consent to 21?? So you can be old enough to die for your country, be old enough to vote but not old enough to have sex? Stupidest thing I’ve ever read on this site (and thats saying something)

          • Okay, lower it in the event of marriage, with parental permission, to 18 years of age. Jack would also raise the voting age to either 25 or 30 years. And frontline combat is, Jack believes, 18 years of age.

        • It’s always a scary feeling for me to up-vote H.J., but apart from the age of consent, which is fantasy land, I have to say that the rest is about right.
          However, none of it has any hope of happening unless there is a revival in the land. And that will not happen until the Gospel is preached again throughout the land in the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh, how we need to be praying for it!

          • “It’s always a scary feeling for me to up-vote H.J …. “
            Lol …. Jack is sure it won’t develop into a serious habit, Marin M. Most of the suggestions are in the realm of fantasy given the moral state of Western culture. As you say, prayer is needed and good Christian men to preach it in ways that will facilitate a turning of the spiritual tide.

          • preacher

            You mean a kind of reforming of the reformation Jack? I totally agree.
            Given time all things grow old & die. First the Rote then the Rut & finally the Rot.
            But if the good seed falls into fertile ground it produces new fruit, not different fruit, but good fresh fruit, nourishing & full of flavour & colour.
            That’s what we need.

          • Jack found this address by Pope Francis very moving and it captures his evangelising program in a post Christian relativist culture. And the founder of the group he was addressing was no wilting violet in the political arena.


          • preacher

            Good afternoon Jack. a good message from your head man, but I believe although Evangelism is essential we need more than just effort.

            The first Disciples had been part of Jesus’ life & ministry for three years. They of all people would have been capable of evangelising effectively in their own strength, but the Lord ordered them to wait until they received power from on high – the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. If this was essential for them, how much more so for us?.

            Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning & start anew, a totally clean sheet is needed. It’s rather like stripping the wallpaper of an old house, you find layers & layers of grotty old paper & paint that past residents have decorated with & enjoyed. But there comes a time when one can’t paint or paper over the top any more.
            We need to start again with the basics.

            I think many who post here are finding this & although our different Churches are comfortable, they can be so cosy that they have a soporific effect. Not many of us like to get up in an unheated room on a cold day, but we have to.
            Thus the calls for a Holy Spirit Revival.

            Man can not accomplish what’s needed by works alone, we have to ask for the Lord to empower the work & to be in the vanguard, convicting mankind of sin & his need to repent & be saved.

            We know what unregenerate man needs, but are we willing to do our part?. It,s doomed to failure if we just want to make them part of Our Church. They’ll either melt away in time or become clones of us, little ‘ Mini – Me’s ‘. ( God Forbid ).

            This is a good time of year for reviewing the situations & making fresh starts.
            Please Pray about it & be prepared to act on what you find. God Bless you & yours. P.

          • What you’ve said isn’t too far away from Pope Francis’ position. He is trying to lead the Church in a godless age through the power of the Holy Spirit and has likened the challenge to a “field hospital” in a war where people are “wounded” and suffering because of an absence of faith. He wants us to meet them where they and assist them through a message of hope and love that opens them to God’s grace and a path of repentance and renewal.
            God Bless you too, Preacher.

          • preacher

            Amen Martin, individually & collectively. Regularly but not spasmodically.
            The Hebrides Revival was initiated by two ladies prayers. they were sisters living near Barvas village on the Isle of Lewes. Peggy & Christine Smith were there names, one was 82 , the other 84 & one was blind.
            But these two dear souls had the faith to believe & the hearts of Lions.
            We must not wait for others to lead the way, but must pray for God to move & do what we may while we wait.
            If Almighty God answered them, there is no reason for us to doubt. It may take time, but it Will happen. Our prayers are of the same value as the highest Bishop, Archbishop or any other Church leader in the World.
            Blessings Brother. P

          • Amen to you too, brother!
            It will be found that every revival in history has been birthed in earnest prayer.
            I will add one thing more. Anyone in a church where the word of God is not being preached regularly and faithfully needs to leave it double quick and join a church where he can be fed spiritually. Even a sheep, if it was left in a field where there was no grass, would sooner or later break through the hedge into the next field.
            Praedicatio verbi dei verbum dei est. ‘The preaching of the word of God is the word of God.’ Heinrich Bullinger.

          • preacher

            I agree 100%, but it’s getting harder to find good pasture in these times.
            May God Bless you now & always Brother.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Yes. We are in for April 11th.

          • Good man!

        • IanCad

          Jack, you write much good sense most of the time; But, to be perfectly frank, your suggestion that the age of consent should be raised to 21 is just about the daftest thing I’ve ever read.

          • CliveM

            Yes just how would you police it?

          • Teach it first …. rather than the current approval given to all things sexual. It really cannot be policed unless one of the parties reports it as abusive.

          • DanJ0

            Well, perhaps we could revert to times past when the Roman Catholic Church essentially regulated sex for everyone in society? Actually, there’s a modern equivalent in Saudi Arabia: the Morality Police. They arrest or beat up men and women who aren’t related if they’re socialising together. We could even revert back to the idea of chaperones to protect a woman’s virtue.

          • CliveM

            I know of more then one friend bullied into having sex with their boyfriends when they didn’t want too. I talked with one of them about it and she said she didn’t know how to say no. It was expected and she found she had no grounds to refuse that her boyfriend would accept. Why w

          • DanJ0

            “People are damaged and let down because society now seems unwilling to protect those who may be old enough, but are not yet ready.”

            You’d rather have the Morality Police, or its equivalent, than just empower people to say no?

          • CliveM

            Did you not read the bit where I said that legal regulation beyond protecting the young shouldn’t be done the State? So no, I’m not advocating a morality police.

            It would be very helpful if people where empowered to say no. What suggestions do you have? Because outside a moral framework I think this will be very difficult.

          • DanJ0

            I read this bit in particular: “People are damaged and let down because society now seems unwilling to protect those who may be old enough, but are not yet ready.”

          • CliveM

            I’m not sure why saying that is particularly contentious. If you think it’s factually wrong fine, say why. But I don’t see the statement as a call for some sort of morality police. I do see it as saying society (not the State) need to consider if the current sexual morality is actually healthy or if the assumption that a recreational sexual attitude is best for society needs to be re-considered.

          • DanJ0

            How are you expecting society to protect adults who are not yet ready to have sex?

          • CliveM

            Well it think outside of Christian sexual ethics it will be very difficult. I’m not sure if secular society can do it.

          • DanJ0

            If I say no then it’s because I’m confident enough in myself to know what I want. My body, my decision. That works well enough even though I don’t believe sex is inherently a moral act, unlike Christians. Have you heard of the Silver Ring Thing?

          • CliveM

            Yes I have. Frankly from what I’ve seen some of its a bit creepy. Pledging your virginity to your father is a little strange.

          • DanJ0

            Thank goodness for that. They give me the heebie-jeebies. Denise Pfeiffer used to write letters to my local paper, banging on about sexual behaviour and stuff. It turns out that she’s properly asexual so she doesn’t even feel sexual desire.

          • CliveM

            To be honest I have no idea who Denise Pfeiffer is. I’ll google.

          • DanJ0

            Please do. 🙂

          • DanJ0

            The Morality Police are volunteers, enforcing Sharia-based morality.

          • CliveM

            Ok I’m not big on vigilante ism.

          • DanJ0

            They’re recognised by the State, which is itself Sharia-based. I’m thinking Dodo would be at the front of the queue for volunteering if the Roman Catholic Church ever got its power and hegemony back in the UK.

          • CliveM

            Ok not wanting to get involved between you and Happy Jack !!

            As an observation which is totally unconnected with Happy Jack, I would be suspicious of anyone who would wish such a role.

            My suggestion has more to do with creating a morality, supported by your own social networks ie friends, family, partners etc where as a minimum people should be respected for not wishing to have sex and not being expected to until they are ready for it. Ideally and correctly in a marriage. But being more of a realist them I should be, I do understand that the best that can be expected is that people are empowered (hate that word) to understand that have a choice that will be respected and not viewed as weird. I don’t think that’s where society currently is.

          • DanJ0

            I think we can see from places like Ireland in the not too distant past that it becomes social pressure and offenders are subsequently stigmatised and shamed. Obviously as a fan of John Stuart Mill, social pressure to conform raises my hackles as it goes against the core of liberalism.

          • CliveM

            I can’t remember if it’s Holland or Danemark ( when I have time I’ll do some checking) where their is significant social support (which from the rates of early sexual activity, single patent hood etc seems to be effective) on helping young people understand they do have a choice and they can say no. To be honest the UK model isn’t common in Western Europe. As a country we have have a culture of excess (drink, drugs, unhealthy sexual behaviour) that needs to be challenged, because actually, in the case of the current sexual model real damage is being done. STD’s are significantly higher then the European average, we have the earliest rates of first sexual activity, there is probably some correlation between the over sexualised culture and the impact on girls (anorexia, self harming) and also sexual coercion and abuse.

            The current model, even if you view it in purely secular terms doesn’t work.

          • IanCad

            They’re volunteers!!??? I did not know that. Fancy having them for neighbours.

          • CliveM

            It would be the class creep or the school bully who would volunteer for this.

          • DanJ0

            Or people who think they are righteous and want to be on the front line of keeping others in line according to their religious beliefs. That’s not so very different to one of the main themes down here at the moment, only the proponents want to use the power of the State to do their work for them as far as the rest of us are concerned.

          • Why?

          • IanCad

            “Youth’s a stuff will not endure”
            Twelfth Night.

          • Dominic Stockford

            And given that he defended his church’s position on the age for marriage (16 for men, 14 for women) in another thread, a little confusing as well.

          • That was within the bounds of Holy Matrimony, remember? Ages actually that many countries adhere to for civil marriage with parental consent and/or court permission. The Vatican’s age of legal consent is 18 years – though outside of marriage between a man and a woman it still remains a grievous sin. .

          • Dominic Stockford

            Sex should only be in marriage.
            Your church says marriage can be at 14 or 16.
            You say sexual consent should be at 21.

            So which is the one you’re not in agreement about – the age of consent, or sex only within marriage?

          • Hmmm … to be honest, the age of sexual consent within a permanent Christian marriage isn’t too big an issue for Jack.

            How could the Church withhold a sacramental blessing of marriage if a state sets the ages? And these ages are acceptable within the framework of a moral, Christian family life and community. They are based on Jewish law – God’s law. The minimum age for marriage under Jewish religious law is 13 for boys, 12 for girls. However, a betrothal can take place beforehand. The Talmud recommends that a man marry at age 18, or somewhere between 16 and 24.

            Didn’t Mary the mother of Jesus become betrothed and freely consent to becoming pregnant at a young age? You want to argue with God?

          • DanJ0

            The age of consent is supposed to be about when a person in law is deemed mentally competent and responsible to consent to having sex. That doesn’t change with a marriage certificate. It sounds to me that what you really intend is the criminalisation of sex outside of marriage below the age of 21 for religious reasons rather than for consent reasons.

          • Discouraging sex outside of marriage based on a proper and healthy moral education for the young, would be a more accurate description. It’s the most important area for a society to get right – the procreation and raising of the next generation.

          • DanJ0

            So, to very clear about this, this is not about the age of consent at all. You want to criminalise sex outside of marriage, at least for under 21 year olds. That’s what you are saying.

          • Do you not know the difference between “discourage” and “criminalise”? It’s you who’s running to the law.

            Given proper education in these matters supported at home and by the culture and institutions of a society, there would be no need for law. It wasn’t so long ago that the age of sexual consent was 18 years of age and it still is in some places. It is a statement of intent about marriage and sex and also a legal baseline for protecting the young from seduction and exploitation by predatory and manipulative adults.

            Implementation would need to be gradual – but the ambition is a society based on stable two parent marriages where children thrive.

          • DanJ0

            You want to raise the age of consent to 21, despite people clearly being able to consent before that, to suit your militant religionist agenda. That means that people under the age of 21 who aren’t married but have sex are criminals. That’s both discouraging and criminalising it.

          • Hmmm … we could hold focus groups and have conversations about all this, Jack supposes. It could be reset at 18 years of age – provided the age differential was no more than 3 years. The main intention is valuing sexual activity rather than it being a hedonistic sporting activity.

          • DanJ0

            You need to be on The Big Questions. I’ll nominate you if you like. People need to see what is lurking in the background of the Roman Catholic Church. We see Taleban-esque Muslims on there often enough. Why not a ‘Catholic’ one too?

          • Ian, when communicating with Happy Jack please try to avoid using the word Frank.
            As to the age of consent, it is surely a sign of immorality that we even have to discuss the suitable age for pre-marital sex.

          • IanCad

            I’m a firm believer in early marriage Jack; as was the practice in colonial times.

            It is – in my view – wrong to encourage the young to get an education and a career before marriage.

            “—That age is best which is the first,
            when youth and blood are warmer —

            Then be not coy, but use your time,
            And while ye may, go marry;
            For having lost but once your prime,
            You may forever tarry.”

            Robert Herrick.

          • DanJ0

            The three ages thing is part of a Hindu view of life, at least as our Gujurati citizens interpret it anyway.

          • DanJ0

            You simply don’t get what the age of consent is all about by the look of it. For a bloke who relies heavily on google for most of your knowledge, one would have thought you’d look the feckin’ thing up in this instance too.

          • Jack knows what consent is. How can a young person raised on amoral (at best) programme give free consent with full understanding to engaging in sex? That’s been the success of the homosexualist-radical feminist lobby aided and abetted by progressive-liberal religionists. Together, they’ve managed to separate sex from it’s purpose and are now relying on the state to impose these values.

          • DanJ0

            You’re reduced now to distorting the basis of consent to suit yourself and your militant religionist agenda. This is the sort of thing that will happen if militant religionists even get power over the rest of us, be it Islamists or people like you.

          • Or, indeed, people like you who are in power at the present time who are distorting reality. This so called “militant religionist agenda” was common sense and was prevalent a generation or two ago.

          • DanJ0

            Dodo, I understand on what the age of consent is based.

          • DanJ0

            That said, the current age of consent was set up originally to protect girls from exploitation by men. By that, I mean to protect young teenagers from child trafficking and child prostitution. You want to criminalise the sexual activities of late teenagers to suit your own militant religionist agenda, Dodo. You want to stigmatise and shame them for behaving normally. You want to control and regulate sexual activity irrespective of the ability and desire to consent, and based on ‘your’ minority religious beliefs not theirs.

          • Yes, Jack bets you do. Here’s the advice from the BBC:

            “Just because you’ve blown out 16 candles on our birthday cake, doesn’t mean you’re ready for sex. Do what feels right for you. Just make sure you understand what sex is about and get clued-up on safe sex and contraception first, and don’t do anything you’re not completely comfortable with.”

            Did you support the 2013 move by Civil Servants in the Number 10 Policy Unit to reduce the age of consent to 14? Peter Tatchell and ‘OutRage’ did – providing it was accompanied by earlier, ‘better quality sex and relationship education’.

            Oh. yeah and we know what this would involve.

            As Stonewall proclaim: “Even the visionary group of people who set up Stonewall 25 years ago, couldn’t have imagined quite how different the Britain of 2014 would be.

            Lots done. Lots to do.

            With your help imagine where we’ll be in the next 25 years…”

          • DanJ0

            I’ve said many times here that I’m very happy with the current age of consent (which used to be 13 before it was raised for the reasons I’ve stated below). I think our current Sexual Offences Act is pretty much spot on too, as I’ve also stated many times.

        • Royinsouthwest

          And changes that punish and deter systematic sexual abuse like that of the girls sacrificed on the alter of “community cohesion” in Rotherham and many other towns.

          • Most certainly …. until we get our own house in order we will always be vulnerable to the inadequacies of the state protecting children against sexual abuse at all levels and from all groups in society.

          • sarky

            I believe the offence of ‘grooming’ is now being looked at. At the moment it’s perfectly legal????

        • DanJ0

          The removal of the protected characteristic of homosexuality from the equality legislation is interesting given that you want changes to the marriage law (presumably to revoke same-sex marriage) too. How does removing that strengthen marriage, exactly?

          But perhaps it’s not marriage that you want to strengthen there but somehow legislate for heterosexuality or legislate against homosexuality to tick your complementarity of the sexes bit? I’m wondering what you intend to do with homosexuals like me afterwards?

          Perhaps society ought to legislate for able-bodied-ness or against the disabled too. Afterall, able-bodied people are the norm, and normal, and as your god intended. Perhaps as a start, the protected characteristic of disability ought to be removed. Why should people with no arms get a helping hand?

          I’d have thought scrapping the equality legislation altogether would be more appropriate in this rollback. Afterall, why should religion be a protected characteristic given that it’s a lifestyle choice but homosexuality not one given that it’s generally accepted to be immutable?

          • One doesn’t chose to be disabled – it’s not an activity. You must surely know this difference. Ideally, in time, there would be no need for ‘protected’ groups as a society based on Christian values would care for everybody in need and not pass the buck to the state.

            As for homosexuals, they would be removed from the public square and be free to do their thing in private – subject to the laws on the age of sexual consent. It’s about isolating their influence on the young and their undermining the meaning and purpose of the marital act between a man and a woman.

            It’s not Talibanesque at all. People wouldn’t be forced to be Christian and freedom of expression and ways of living would be tolerated – just not the promotion and practice of lifestyles that damage the young and the common good.

          • DanJ0

            Pushing oneself around in a wheelchair is an activity. Trying to go shopping in an environment which isn’t set up for wheelchairs, or blindness, or having no arms is an activity and a half. Or perhaps they should be disabled and accept the limitations so that the rest of us can get on with our own able-bodied lives.

          • That would hardly reflect a Christian attitude.

          • DanJ0

            One doesn’t choose to be disabled or homosexual. You want to oppress one group and not the other based on your minority religious beliefs by hiding behind your own religious interpretation of the Common Good.

          • One choses to engage in homosexual activities but not to be blind or in a wheelchair. You wouldn’t permit a totally blind person to chose to drive a car. Is this discrimination and oppression? Besides, homosexuality wouldn’t be recriminalised – just denormalised and conducted in private between consenting adults who were over the age of legal consent.

          • DanJ0

            You want us to be disabled too in the social model sense.

          • Jack doesn’t accept post modernist frames of reference or constructs.

          • DanJ0

            How convenient.

          • DanJ0

            But you want to turn the age of consent into something about permissibility based on a militant religionist’s interpretation of the Common Good. Why would or should anyone trust a militant religionist to leave it at that, oppressive and illiberal as it is? People like you have form in history, and in the present day as it goes. I expect Islamists come from the stable as you.

          • And you want to remove all moral restraint from society based on relativist notions of freedom that undermine the common good.

            We see the results of your approach. It’s wreaking havoc throughout our society.

            “The social consequences of uncontrolled sex. The sexual decadence of popular culture—in music, television, and videos—is only the most obvious manifestation, providing material for endless and often pointless moralizing.

            But beyond the lamenting and bemoaning are consequences that are concrete and serious. The vast proliferation of single-parent homes is having devastating consequences on our society, economy, and politics. The epidemics of cohabitation and runaway divorce have left millions of fatherless children on the exploding welfare and foster care rolls and spread crime and substance abuse and truancy throughout our communities. These problems are now bankrupting taxpayers and future generations with a “financial crisis” that is attributable almost in its entirety to welfare spending and its multiplier effects in crime and social anomie, while driving governments to ever more authoritarian measures to slake their insatiable thirst for revenue.”


          • DanJ0

            “And you want to remove all moral restraint from society based on relativist notions of freedom that undermine the common good.”

            What a complete crock of shite.

          • A very erudite and reasoned reply.

          • DanJ0

            What else is there to say? Why on earth would I want to remove all moral restraint from society? It’s the kind of thing Len would say. You’re indulging yourself with hyperbole to the point of stupidity. Like everybody else, I rely on there being moral restraint all over the place.

            Ironically, you also have a history here of having little or no moral restraint in your own observable behaviour. Unlike me. In fact, you’ve lied like a cheap watch on a number of occasions, and behaved with breathtakingly little integrity.

          • A bald faced ad hominem and a non sequitur, Danjo.

          • DanJ0

            Firstly, I note you’re evading the comment in the first paragraph which addressed your point head on. Let me ask again: why on earth would I want to remove all moral restraint from society? Society would collapse. Secondly, I think it’s pretty relevant to point out that you have very poor moral restraint yourself compared to mine given that you accuse me of wanting to remove all moral restraint in society.

          • You may not “want” to remove “moral restraint”. You want “liberty” to follow your own desire regardless of the harm entailed in normalising it and equating it with heterosexual marriage.

            The evidence of the programme you’re supporting is that “morality”, whatever you mean by this term, needs a foundation in a proper understanding of man and sex as more than a hedonistic activity focussed on pleasure – subject to age limits, safe sex, contraception and “doing what feels right”.

            And look at the evidence. Society is hardly doing well, now is it?

          • DanJ0

            “Society is hardly doing well, now is it?”

            Actually, I think we’re doing very well. As I’ve said many times, I feel blessed to be living in this place at this time in history. I reject the doom and gloom sold by religionists unhappy that they can’t get their own way and control people outside their religion.

          • DanJ0

            “You want “liberty” to follow your own desire regardless of the harm normalising it and equating it with heterosexual marriage entails.”

            I consider liberty in general to be a social good. I want you to have liberty so you can follow your own religious beliefs (though I maintain that you aren’t religious at all in reality). I want others to have liberty so they can pursue their own goals and organise their own lives irrespective of your religious beliefs. I find your paternalism disturbing. Luckily, I doubt very much that the general population will stomach it now they have their freedom.

          • DanJ0

            To be clear, you’re now withdrawing your claim that I want to remove all moral restraint from society? Presumably because you recognise that it’s a complete crock of shite?

          • Jack is not withdrawing it – he is saying you are deluded.

          • DanJ0

            Okay. I ask for the third time: Why on earth would I want to remove all moral restraint from society? Society would collapse. Moreover, I act with moral restraint throughout my day. You may possibly do so offline but you have a history of not doing so here.

          • “Why on earth would I want to remove all moral restraint from society?”
            Why on earth, indeed. Because you stubbornly deny there is an objective morality and a Creator and assert the rights of self, you may not actually be aware that the ‘gospel’ you preach, far from ‘liberating’ people, is dragging society into chaos.

          • DanJ0

            Ah the nostalgia. Dodo, we always get to this point where you’ve fecked up but you can’t admit that you have so you cling desperately to the nonsense you’ve written instead even though you look more stupid doing so. This is where personal morals and integrity ought to come into their own. Unfortunately, you have a dearth of each as we both know.

            I certainly do not want to remove all moral restraint from society at all. Like everyone else, I rely daily on the overwhelming majority of people not stealing, or lying, or committing acts of violence, even if they could get away with it. Why would I want to remove the self-restraint which makes living in a society possible? Clearly I wouldn’t as any fool knows.

          • No, the point we get to is our absolute different perspectives on man and his purpose. Dress it up how you chose, the sexual hedonism you preach is manifestly socially corrosive and damaging. Look at its fruits. You live in a little bubble, safe and secure, being a “good person” and “sensitive and kind” to those you meet. Meantime, the social consequence of the uncontrolled sex that suits your particular desire, that makes you feel socially included, is plain to see.
            You are either in ignorance, in wilful denial or you are lying. It is not for Jack to judge which it is.

          • DanJ0

            Look at all those words but you’re still not explaining why on earth I would want to remove all moral restraint from society. Yet you won’t admit that what you wrote about me was a crock of shite as I said.

          • The discussion was pertaining to sexual freedom, the age of consent and the proper moral framework for sexual activity. Jack stands by what he wrote:

            “And you want to remove all moral restraint from society based on relativist notions of freedom that undermine the common good.”

            As to motive, again, Jack answered this:

            ” Meantime, the social consequence of uncontrolled sex, that just happens to suit your particular desire, and changes to the law that make you feel socially included, is plain to see.

            You are either in ignorance, in wilful and stubborn denial, or you are lying. It is not for Jack to judge which it is.”

            There’s no more to be said.

          • DanJ0

            Of course you stand by what you wrote. You don’t have the morals or integrity to withdraw it despite it being a crock of shite.

          • DanJ0

            In reality, I would like people to have moral restraint in their sexual activity as well as other activities. However, at the end of the day people own their own bodies. If two people consent to sex then what business is it of yours? There’s something quite repellent about desiccated old men trying to control the sex lives of others.
            In a liberal society, people are free to pursue their own interests and goals. This means that people like you are free to restrain themselves according their religious beliefs as they will. Trying to restrain others on the basis of ‘your’ minority religious beliefs exceeds your rights.
            I don’t suppose you are the only one to try to justify your oppressive desires by pointing at a religious interpretation of the Common Good. I expect some Islamists believe that women should wear veils for that reason. Or shouldn’t drive cars. Or shouldn’t work. Or not have a vote. Women who dress immodestly lead men astray of course, and that can’t be a good thing for society.
            If one is able to play fast and loose with the concept of the Common Good so that it excludes sections of society then one can justify all sorts of things. For example, one might argue that the Common Good is not served by allowing Muslims to have citizenship. Afterall, they follow the wrong god and your interpretation of the Common Good is founded in ‘your’ god’s designs not theirs.
            But hey, why stop there? You ‘believe’ that the Roman Catholic Church holds the keys to heaven. Presumably the Church of England, even though it is the established church, is leading people astray. That can’t be ordered towards the Common Good (Dodo version). Surely that gives you permission to legislate against it and its members? Or worse. This is beginning to sound all too familiar. Could there be a warning from history here?

          • DanJ0

            “As for homosexuals, they would be removed from the public square and be free to do their thing in private – subject to the laws on the age of sexual consent.”

            You’re correct that this is a culture war. But if you’re in the market for oppressing free people then perhaps we should go one step further and start burning down Roman Catholic Churches. For the Common Good.

          • It is a culture war, agreed.
            “Oppressing free people” – how emotive. And turning to violence by acts of criminal damage or arson would most certainly be criminalised – wherever and on whomever perpetrated.

          • DanJ0

            But it’d be for the Common Good. 😉

          • The social contract would have to be respected and any laws passed adhered to. No gay subterranean guerrilla activity, please. The outfits would look fabulous.

            Jack cannot imagine the likes of Linus having the stomach for a civil war and you are far too sensitive to inflict harm on another person.

          • DanJ0

            But you wouldn’t be respecting the social contract yourself if you tried to force people like me into the shadows. Luckily, I’m a liberal and I support Article 9 of the ECHR so ‘your’ churches are safe from me. Christians are also safe from being pushed out of the public square, Saudi Arabia like, as far as I am concerned. It’s tough having my principles though. Taleban-esque people like you are a danger to the Common Good.

          • The social contract would require you to live within the rules and norms of the society as expressed through the popular will for the common good. You wouldn’t be in the “shadows”, just not centre stage calling the shots. You’d be free to go about your life peaceably.

          • DanJ0

            Perhaps you should change your ID to Jean Jack Rousseau next.

          • Nah, too Fronch ….

        • Anton

          Agreed except for the age of sexual consent. Teenagers are more ardent to have sex than anybody. Let them, but within marriage.

          As for fornication, no fine but a percentage reduction in any State benefits due in the next 5 or 10 years.

          • And if they’re not on benefit?

          • Anton

            The point is to deter. Deterrence necessarily involves fear.

      • PaulOfTarsus

        The yellow belly doesn’t have answers. Posing rhetorical questions that come from voices in his head. Always uses arcane, questionable theological assumptions that hold no basis in reality. As you will be called incorrect all the time you will grow frustrated with your efforts to make sense of nonsense. Good Luck with that.

        • sarky

          Crap attitude to a genuine question!

          • sarky

            Apolgies, totally misread the comment and tried to delete – whoops!!

          • CliveM

            God works in mysterious ways! Little bit of inadvertent truth there Sarky.

          • Bit of a nutter is our PoT. Claims to be a world renowned specialist in mental health.

          • CliveM

            One suspects extensive contact with mental health professionals.

            Still his breezy, if delusional self confidence, always brightens up an evening. I am always a little sad to see him go. He’s a little ray of sun in a grey world!

          • “Breezy” is one adjective for his windy hot air.

        • Now, now, where is all the love and tolerance for others you keep preaching?

    • Dude

      Well, one can now go to be married under the Huppah of Morrison’s : which is doubtless convenient as I guess you can get married and do grocery shopping under one roof …..

      • sarky

        Most kids are born out of wedlock, “that’s why mums go to Iceland”.

        • . .. and Poundland; that’s why there’s two in most large cities.

          • sarky


  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace,
    Further to Jack’s Post, there was nothing about morality in the Bishops statement. Without a check in the system, society will fall into an abyss of depravity and totally collapse as societies in history. When you have a morally sound society, the need for social welfare is greatly diminished as people serve one another and there is a desire to provide for ones own.

    • Dominic Stockford

      And true morality can only be founded on God’s Word and what it teaches – it can of course, only be sought to be lived by those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ – Article 13

  • carl jacobs

    this will be the final response to their very, very long Pastoral Letter

    I get the impression that this pastoral letter didn’t have quite the impact the Bishops might have hoped. Perhaps in seventy years, a marine archaeologist will stumble upon its final resting place at 2000 fathoms.

    • William Lewis

      A second flood, Carl? I thought we’d been promised never again?

      • carl jacobs

        Nothing quite so dramatic or miraculous. One had only to place the thing in water, and let its lack of buoyancy carry it down, down, down.

        It’s the stuff of legend now. Children in the future will tell scary stories about the void of nothingness that rises from the sea floor, and consumes passing ships.

        But no one will know its origin.

        • William Lewis

          It does seem to be a kind of pastoral leviathan.

          • Jack thought you proddies would protect your own. Such disloyalty. Then again …..

          • William Lewis

            The question has always been, for most of us proddies at least, what or, more importantly, who to be loyal to.

          • It’s the same with Catholics but we understand bishops speak for Christ and have His authority, so should be listened to, respected and their teachings followed. Loyalty to the Church, His Body on earth, with all her human flaws, is loyalty to Christ. It’s a different mind-set.

          • I knew I shouldn’t have given you that up-vote. It has clearly gone to your head.
            Paul said, ‘Imitate me just as I imitate Christ.’ Just that far and no further. We must not follow false teachers, whether they wear a Bishop’s fish hat, sorry, mitre, or not.

            ‘Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed’
            (Gal. 2:11).

            The question has always been, for most of us proddies at least, what or, more importantly, who (sic) to be loyal to.

            Be loyal to Christ. Be loyal to your Minister just as far as he is loyal to Him.

          • Yes and the Church has a way of confronting priests, bishops and popes who depart from the deposit of faith passed on from Christ and the Apostles. Catholics are not obliged to give blind assent to the personal opinions of those in the Church – just to understand her doctrines and live accordingly. The framework for the proper relationships between individuals, the laity and the priesthood is set out in Canon Law.

          • ‘The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge’ Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689.

          • They’re nothing to do with me.

          • All baptised Christians have something to do with one another.

        • preacher

          Not so much a Giant Squid, but more of a Damp Squib eh?.

  • David

    Well said Your Grace. I totally agree with your comments.
    It is all hugely underwhelming – yet more verbosity of little import.
    The College of Bishops are, like the establishment political leadership, so utterly cloned and into “group think”, they are totally unable to grasp many, if not most, of the real issues that should concern a Christian leadership.
    They exist is a tiny, tiny, rarified sliver of society, cut off from the pain and problems of the many. Oh how unlike the Jesus of the Gospel they truly are ! But perhaps I expect too much ?
    My main concerns focus around the parlous state of western culture, but my points, or thereabouts, have all been well put by “Happy Jack” below, so I’ll give my fingers a rest, and say, “Thank you Happy Jack”.

  • len

    The world of politics is paved with good intentions ( probably in many cases at the outset at least to give politicians the benefit of the doubt) but then gets bogged down with compromise, broken promises, reversals, U turns, and the suchlike.
    The Creation (or should say RE Creation )that God intends demands a New Earth a New Order as this present one stands condemned.
    So the Bishops and all those who call themselves Christians should get about the business of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and leave politics all means help the sick the needy widows and orphans but this is not the main commission that Jesus gave to His followers.

    • Dominic Stockford

      It is indeed not the main commission, but Jesus himself did indeed make political comment – ‘Give unto Caesar…’, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…’, ‘No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money…’

  • Mike Stallard

    In Singapore last Christmas, the Archbishop (Catholic) preached for midnight mass. At least 3000 people were in the church, I counted 20 servers – all teenage boys – apart from those serving at the altar. There were eight priests. The Archbishop’s homily in the Church of the Holy Family at Christmas was on how Christian marriage was the most important challenge facing the Church today. He mentioned all the gay transgender stuff as an aside just before the end. I listened rapt. I left proud to be a Catholic and determined to enjoy the feast with my family.

  • Guest

    Is there a list of which bishops were in the group who wrote it? It does seem to be the old problem of theological writing tending to express straighforward ideas in long words. Psychology writers have a habit of doing the same…..probably found in lots of other “ologies” too.

  • Dominic Stockford

    This has been a valuable exposition of the so-called ‘pastoral letter’. Thank you.

    I am troubled that the state church is so determined upon socialism – and so unnecessarily dismissive of anyone who holds conservative views on anything – and that includes Scripture. I imagine the part of the problem is that it is a state church, dependent on the state, and the bigger the state then the more important it becomes.

    What I am really surprised by is the way in which straight forward and well thought out policy on the issue of untrammelled immigration and migration is derided as being ‘racist’, when it is anything but. And, though they will scream with rage at this, the bishops ought to take a look at “The Christian Party” policy on immigration – and ask themselves why it is that a party that demands every member make a profession of faith, with faith references from two other individuals, still has a policy almost identical to that of UKIP (though the reasoning behind it is somewhat different).

    “Love for one’s neighbour, hospitality and compassion for the stranger in one’s land, are central tenets of the Christian faith and must be part of one’s policy on immigration. However, a cohesive and sustainable immigration policy is necessary given the fact that there are finite resources available for the well-being of all within our borders.

    Unwise stewardship of our limited resources will lead to understandable resentment among British nationals. Such feelings have legitimacy and must not be ignored. In formulating immigration policy, however, a clear distinction must be made between economic migrants, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. A further consideration is that ‘a brain drain’ from developing countries to the UK sits uneasily with a policy to educate foreign students in order that they may return home to benefit their native country.”

  • Royinsouthwest

    Did the pastoral letter discuss the power exercised by quangos stuffed with PC placement?

  • magnolia

    Intergenerational justice? A tricky one. I note that the lesser granted graduate comes back to the nest for longer, before being fully fledged, so things even up a bit in different ways…..

  • Darter Noster

    The sheer banality of this pastoral letter is mind-boggling – there are speeches by Gordon Brown more likely to be quoted reverently by future generations.

    My first thought on reading it was “With all the challenges of the modern world, do these people genuinely have so little of any profundity to say about anything?”

    My second thought was “Oh hang on, they’re Church of England Bishops”.

    • Now, now … they are our brothers and sisters in Christ (mostly) and some are just a tad confused (and some seriously so). We live in difficult times. Pray for Justin Welby. It must be like herding cats. Oh, for the days of sheep – then Henry VIII came along.

      • len

        There none so confused as a Ro Ro Roman (to the tune of’ the quick quick fitters’ ad) if your memory goes back that far?

        • Len, you do know that Luther believed in baptismal regeneration and taught The Body and Blood of Christ are really present in, with, and under the elements? And that one could lose his salvation?

          Are you saying the Church Christ founded was in limbo until Martin Luther? Too bad for Christians of the first 1,500 years.

      • Anton

        Sheep, Jack? Wolves, who murdered the Waldenses and the Lollards wherever they could – two of the groupings comprising the Bible-faithful Christians of the pre-Reformation era and the answer to where the church as an institution was in that age. (I gladly accept that many mediaeval Catholics were committed to Christ.)

        Would you rather live in the mediaeval Catholic era or today?

        • Jack is lives in the era that God placed in him, Anton. No good wondering. And looking back and judging men in the Church from a modern
          perspective is a fallacy called ‘presentism’, i.e. to judge the past by the standards of the present.

          Today, religious belief is seen essentially as a personal preference – like what TV programme you watch. In those days religion was the central and predominant aspect of one’s personal and also of a nation’s collective identity. In medieval times to try to corrupt or defame a nation’s religion was the equivalent of treason and such crimes were thought to be severe enough to warrant the death penalty.

          • Anton

            “And looking back and judging men in the Church from a modern perspective is a fallacy called ‘presentism’, i.e. to judge the past by the standards of the present.”

            Actually not Jack; anybody who calls himself a Christian agrees to be compared against the standards of the New Testament, which is all I am doing when I make comments on the mediaeval era.

          • You think people’s understanding of the Gospel operate in isolation from culture?

          • Anton

            I don’t claim to be able to separate myself wholly from the culture in which I live when I examine behaviour in another culture – such as mediaeval Europe – using as yardstick the New Testament. God is the final judge. But I repeat emphatically that anybody who calls himself a Christian agrees to be compared against the standards of the New Testament, which is above all cultures and which has won recruits from all cultures.

          • But you do look back and judge the Church negatively from the position of 21st century man. Medieval man and his understanding of the world inevitably influenced the way he applied the Gospel. What we consider love for God, ourselves and for others doesn’t operate in total isolation from our understanding of the physical and social world and individuals within it.

            As Jack said, in those days religion was the central and predominant aspect of one’s personal identity and also of a nation’s collective identity. It was a culture that understood individual misfortune and social calamities in very different ways to us. It was a time of superstition and suspicion. The way society was organised and what gave legitimacy to authority was very different too. Therefore, as Jack said, to seek to corrupt or defame a nation’s religion was seen as the equivalent to treason that could have negative consequences for everyone, so such crimes were thought serious enough to warrant the death penalty.

          • Anton

            And do you approve of that? Whatever else you might reply, please include a clear Yes or No.

            All converts bring personal assumptions to their readings of the gospel, and many of those assumptions will derive from the prevailing culture. But the gospel challenges all personal assumptions including these.

          • Does Jack approve of judging Church history from the position of the 21st century? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. It really depends on one’s motivation and what one draws from this.

            If it is to learn from past mistakes, it is a good and necessary process. That’s how we grow and develop as a Church. However, if it is done to make negative points, to pass judgement and to distance oneself from the “bad” aspects of “that” Church, then this is a different matter altogether.

          • Anton

            Evangelism is my top priority and that means being honest before nonbelievers and not airbrushing church history. It also means analysing where the church actually was in the mediaeval era; this is why I speak of the Lollards and Waldenses who have been slandered as heretics. Please answer my question about whether you approve of their execution.

          • CliveM

            If you’re going to be honest you have to also present a full picture of the medieval Church. And the successes of the Church were significant.

          • Anton

            But you have to decide who the church comprised first.

          • No, of course Jack doesn’t “approve” of the execution of any person for their personal beliefs in Jesus Christ – or any other deity for that matter. Nor does he approve of the abuses of Church power in those times. Sinful and ignorant men do wrong things, both deliberately and unintentionally. However, seen from the perspective of the time, they were “heretics”, with all that was then understood to imply and faced the sanctions in place to respond to this. It’s a bit like asking Jack if he approved of brain surgery in days gone by or the use of leeches etc. to cure illness.

            What he wouldn’t do is call those Christians “nominal Christians” or wash his hands of Church history.

          • CliveM

            I think that’s a good explanation Happy Jack and I’ve also said it also needs to be put in context of the good as well.

  • Guest

    What right have the bishops to offer guidance to their flock on which political parties to vote for. They should ask their flock to compare what the political parties are saying or have done in office with the principles set out in the bible. Supporting single sex marriage would earn a demerit, encouraging ‘alternative’ families another, and that is before considering making abortion and divorce too easy.

    The best party that I know of, but not standing in the UK is the Singapore Peoples Action Party (PAP). They actually suppport the family, discourage divorce and abortion, will not recognise single sex marriage or support LBGT rights. Yet this is a secular party with NO religous afflilliations yet combining people of faith and no faith.

    The Church of England (CoE) has a well established left wing/liberal bias in its politics. In my perception, the current Archbishop was selected for his ‘dispute resolution’ skills rather than his leadership skills. I will vote for who my conscience leads me, not what a left wing bishop suggests!

  • Merchantman

    Well, well maybe the best way forward would be, for the congregation (the body) to take time to respond to the Bishops. They are insisting on lecturing us but surely we want to put some truths to them!