Good disagreement
Church of England

Philip North crisis: ‘Good Disagreement’ has become ‘bad bullying’

This is a guest post by the Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden, former Chaplain to the Queen.

___________________________

When the house that has been painstakingly constructed on the sand falls flat, there is nothing to rejoice over. Discernment works better when unclouded by the sin of taking and giving offence.

Bishop Philip North’s election to the Diocese of Sheffield was a litmus test. It was a great achievement for the Church of England. It left me in a state of puzzlement asking myself quietly and periodically, ‘perhaps I have been wrong?’

I was half mistaken certainly. I thought it very unlikely that a non-progressive would be elected to a diocese at this stage of the struggle for the biblical and spiritual integrity of the Church of England. His election proved me half-mistaken. The second question I had to ask myself, and I have been asking ever since they were formulated, is ‘were the Five Guiding Principles fact or fiction?’

I had taken them for fiction. I knew that many who held to a traditional faith were desperate that they should be proved to be reliable. If they were reliable, they argued, we can stay in the Church of England.

So Philip North’s appointment to Sheffield was a litmus test. I had to admit that I was wrong about my first hypothesis when he was elected. But the great advantage of having views that constitute hypotheses is that one can test them and change them.

But the more important test was to come – the commitment to mutual flourishing, mutual respect; the promise that inclusion and diversity meant what they said, and were not just closet weapons to lull the traditionalists into wistful trust before expelling them.

The North appointment was a serious test for the much vaunted ‘Good Disagreement’ that Archbishop Justin Welby has staked his archiepiscopal strategy on.

It has all gone badly wrong.

‘Good Disagreement’ turned out to be a euphemism for ‘bad bullying’. The moment the announcement was made the air was filled with screams of pain from women clergy, their supporters, and other secular feminists, like the local MP. Their aim seemed to manage their own pain by inflicting pain elsewhere. Pain on those who elected him, pain on those who clung to the five principles, and most especially, ad hominem pain on Philip North personally, as a privileged proponent of the patriarchy. And pain in such degree that he would retire, fatally undermined and wounded.

Had Philip North been able to withstand this outpouring of bile, his appointment might have been able to slow the progressive project in the CofE for a while. But it would have been at great personal cost. Perhaps we should be grateful in the aftermath of the collapse onto the sand of this a compromise the so-called Five Guiding Principles purported to be, that his suffering has not been prolonged, and we have been given the clarity to see the situation for what it truly is.

And what is it?

The political conflict that has ravaged the Church of England for the last 40 years or so looked originally as though it was about the rights of women. When the first steps were taken to modify the sacred orders of the Church, it succeeded because the pressure of feminism had built up such a head of secular steam that no one seemed able to set it in a broader context of the theological struggle it turns out that it was – for the soul of the Church.

On the outcome of this struggle would depend the authority of the Bible, the coherence and unity of the Apostolic Church, a Christian rather than secular anthropology of human identity. And even the resurgence of a kind of neo-Arianism.

Why neo-Arianism? Because the secular narrative would mean demoting the teaching and witness of Jesus over marriage and sexuality, and preferring instead a secular story. And you can only do that by treating Jesus as a man of his culture, constrained by that culture and impeded by his lack of living on the giddy wise heights of the beginning of the third millennium.

In fact the conflict is about so much more than the rights of women. When the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood was put to the Synod of the CofE, so successful was the impetus of feminism that the only response was ‘we can’t think of any theological reasons why not’.

But then the Church of England was not doing theology, it was doing politics. And that has been the flaw upon which the weight of the whole building will bring a collapse, now sooner rather than later.

We have seen now that the ordination of women to priesthood was not a matter for discernment as was promised. The pragmatic rather than theological claims that were made to legitimise the feminist goal was that it would help the Church grow again.

The number of Anglicans has, in fact, plummeted.

The claim was made that women would bring a soft pastoral sensitivity that even men full of the Holy Spirit lacked.

The experience has been that senior women in the Church are just as capable as men are of intransigently throwing their weight around to get their own way.

There are a number of ways of understanding the present assault on the integrity of the Church. But I find the most persuasive to be identifying an exchange of doing spiritual theology for a programme of politicised modification of culture, which is also an exchange of Spirit for power.

The Christian gospel promises transformation by a spiritual renewal that touches mind and soul. The impetus for this comes from God, and depends much on prayer. So it has always been easier to look for a political solution to the human condition that depends on political action more than on prayer, and to use power to force people to conform, or to mould society to an improved shape, rather than wait for the more elusive Holy Spirit.

And here is the difference between progressives and traditionalists in the Church today. It is about the depth of Christianity that has taken hold. The progressives talk much about equality and fairness, and harness part of the biblical narrative to coat their political project with an outer covering of spirituality. Lots of talk about Jesus (or certain cherry-picked aspects of Jesus) and justice, but little about sin, repentance and transformation.

Authentic Christianity avoids the short-termism of the political. It looks for conversion rather than improvement. It looks for a renewal of the mind and the birthing of Christ in the soul, rather than the renewing of social structures to achieve a particular social goal.

The poison that has been smuggled into the bio-system of the Church has been relativism.

There is discomfort on the objective truth that Christianity tells, that Jesus explained, about sin, conversion, the justice of God meeting the forgiveness of God on the cross, and redemption – being bought for a new life. Without sin and the forgiveness of sins there is no need for a saviour, no need for repentance; just the use and abuse of God, or an emaciated Jesus to validate our personal preferences.

Good Disagreement was predicated on the mistaken idea that these two ways of doing Christianity could live with each other. It assumed the relativism of secular culture. It was a profoundly mistaken diagnosis.

It was mistaken firstly because it misunderstood the distance which a consumerist ‘justice and equality’-driven Christianity had fallen away from the orthodox faith.

And secondly, because it refused to recognise that a spirituality based on political power, rather than repentance and the Holy Spirit, would not rest until it had exercised power to rid itself of the competitive presence and challenge of orthodox theology and values.

Behind all the pleasant cosmetic words like inclusion, equality, and diversity lay a ruthless will-to-power that will not brook a different value system. The weeping wounded women of frustrated feminism declared themselves a Philip North free zone. They had set themselves against all he and the historic faith stood for, and even the Anglican Church was not wide enough to hold contain their antipathy and contradiction.

Where to now?

As Adrian Hilton aka Archbishop Cranmer presciently showed, the illiberal and exclusionary arguments of the sub-Christian progressives apply just as much to gay marriage blessing as they do to feminist bishops. Both use the same tactic and same leverage. The epistemology is not the Word of God, but the preferences of the privileged person, or perhaps more accurately the spoilt child: ‘If you don’t do as I ask, I will shout, and scream and accuse you of hurting me until you give in or go away.’

Inclusion means exclusion. Diversity means monopoly.

The Philip North crisis has shown us what the end game always was. The monopoly of a sub-Christian, neo-Arian, power-driven heterodoxy that was infuriated by Christian orthodoxy.

The golden rule for the parasite is not to kill the host, just to weaken it and live off it. The vulnerability of +Philip North proved too tempting a target, and the progressives struck too soon and too hard. It may prove to be that they have fatally wounded their host, the Church of England.

Since it has become clear that orthodox Christians will not be allowed the privilege of following their consciences, living out biblical paradigms and challenging the secular culture from within the Church of England, they will either have to adopt a separate orthodox jurisdiction of their own, or leave. The jury is out on which the faithful will choose.

  • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

    Very well said and well written indeed. Gafcon can now rapidly expand their small base and grow a Church that genuinely believes in Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture.

    When Readers are licensed they give an oath to “Scripture as the Primary Authority” (that is if your Diocese follows the actual service and doesn’t modify it). This is swearing an oath that Scripture comes first. Now clergy and Bishops have been revealed to be absolute hypocrites as they don’t believe in it themselves.

    • Dominic Stockford

      I think we were already aware that most of them don’t put Scripture first. This does help prove it, of course.

  • Michael Macdon

    most interesting article as it shows that the enthusiasts for invented Victorian tradition are as intolerant as the extreme opponents of Philip North. Behind the camp ceremonies and selective interpretation of the five principles, there is a track record of elderly priests vainly seeking to boost their own importance by excluding everyone but themselves from Ministry. Bishop Philip had an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate that Anglo=Catholicism embodies inclusion and brings the people of the Diocese to God. instead he continued to promote the views of the Society that however incompetent and lazy a male priest may be, possession of a penis means that he is infinitely superior to any woman.

    An inflexible view that the majority of your congregation are wrong and 40% of your clergy are not real priests immediately makes anyone unsuitable as a Bishop. If Bishop Philip had felt able to recognise the legitimacy of female clergy, then he had the potential to be an excellent Bishop as he seems to reject the snobbery and smug superiority that distinguishes his less able peers of all traditions. it is tragedy but this article does him a gross disservice by portraying him as the cheerleader of extremists rather than an able leader who could have united all traditions.

    • Little Black Censored

      “If Bishop Philip had felt able to recognise the legitimacy of female clergy…”
      “Feeling able” is neither here nor there

      • Andym

        But it is. It is the inherent contradiction of his stance – as far as he is concerned, a great number of those clergy who he would have been leading were not valid clergy. Yet he was prepared to accept a role leading them. The C of E has said that all clergy are legitimate, male or female. + North does not accept that (nor it appears do the majority of commentators here). I am not giving an opinion on whether he is right or wrong to believe that no women can be ordained, but he is not coming under the authority of the church and therefore should not be considered for such an office. He should have realised that it is an untenable position and should not have been willing to be considered for the post.

    • William Lewis

      What makes you think that a Bishop is superior to a layperson?

      Or that it has got to do with penises?

    • CliveM

      An excellent leader, provided he does what he’s told eh.

    • Sarcon Malorn

      “…possession of a penis means that he is infinitely superior to any woman.”

      Not so, and for one reason: Offices.

      Men cannot have babies, nor can they feed them, but women can. Now, I ask you, are women superior to men? Are men broken, superfluous, deficient creatures simply because were are denied the office of motherhood? Certainly not. The roles of men and women are complementary. Each sex is gifted unique offices with are meant to function together in a symbiotic manner to bless both partners and their family.

      It is this way when it comes to the offices of the church. It isn’t about superiority, but complementarianism.

      • Dominic Stockford

        I thought it was about what God teaches – which is complemetarianism of course, but returns us to the source, rather than men’s explanations of it.

  • dannybhoy

    An excellent an insightful piece by the Reverend Gavin Ashenden particularly…

    “The political conflict that has ravaged the Church of England for the last 40 years or so looked originally as though it was about the rights of women. When the first steps were taken to modify the sacred orders of the Church, it succeeded because the pressure of feminism had built up such a head of secular steam that no one seemed able to set it in a broader context of the theological struggle it turns out that it was – for the soul of the Church.

    On the outcome of this struggle would depend the authority of the Bible, the coherence and unity of the Apostolic Church, a Christian rather than secular anthropology of human identity. And even the resurgence of a kind of neo-Arianism.

    Why neo-Arianism? Because the secular narrative would mean demoting the teaching and witness of Jesus over marriage and sexuality, and preferring instead a secular story. And you can only do that by treating Jesus as a man of his culture, constrained by that culture and impeded by his lack of living on the giddy wise heights of the beginning of the third millennium.”

    As Henry Livingstone the boot boy in “You Rang, m’Lord” used to say,
    “Where will it all end?”
    Well, Henry, now we know.
    The Church of England is all set to begin a new role as the State’s puppet Church, and serving the interests of the government of the day…
    Judgement begins at the house of God, and it may be that earnest Christians will find themselves refurbishing priest holes and meeting in secret… :0)

    http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005831.html

  • Martin

    Well actually there are three ways competing:

    The politically correct, all are equal and the church must be inclusive.

    The traditional which holds to the structure inherited, the bishop and priest, the smells and bells.

    The biblical which sees in the Bible all the answers.

    That third group has had no say in the rule of the church for a long time. They are never made bishop, although some who pretend to that group may do. Those that have ruled for many a year have only tradition ti support them. But their tradition is borrowed from others and undermines their authority. Now the rulers are the politically correct, they may wear the clothes of the other groups but their hearts are with mammon.

    Our PC friends have more than a little of the nature of Violet Elisabeth about them. Unless they get their way they will scream, and continue to scream until they get their way. They’re all sweetness and light as long as they are in control, threaten that control and they become tyrants.

    Curiously God knows what He is doing, the teaching He gives us in the Bible are for our good and if we ignore them we will destroy what we wish to build.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Rod Thomas is an evangelical. Although I was somewhere else on the day of my conversion I was normally attending his congregation in Plymouth at the time. He is a bishop, though a suffragan – which is rather like being a burger, but being made of vegetable matter, pretty pointless in the end.

      • Martin

        Dominic

        It looks like he is a sop for the Evangelical wing. That is not to denigrate him, for I have no doubt he is worthy of being a bishop, indeed, the CoE would be better off with men such as him at the helm.

  • William Lewis

    This is a very clear, perspicacious and elegant exposition. Thank you.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    I smell schism on the morning breeze…

  • John

    I am not from Philip North’s small corner of the Church of England, and I must say I find his theology and ecclesiology a bit weird. But this episode has ably demonstrated that what the C of E has always prided itself on (holding its diverse streams together in creative tension) is simply no longer possible, if it ever was. It’s obvious surely that the dogmatic loftiness of Forward in Faith and the emotional demands of offended liberals are mutually exclusive. When issues are essentially black and white, fifty shades of grey will not do.

  • David

    Thank you Doctor Ashenden for a wonderfully clear and, given the complexity of the subject, succinct analysis of the situation as it has developed over the last forty years and where it has led us to now.

    As in the political sphere liberalism is far from truly liberal. It is not tolerant, diverse or inclusive. It seeks to stamp its new, rigid code upon all that it can dominate. It gathers power unto itself, which is very opposite of the humble submission before God necessary for all of us sinners, before we can be forgiven, cleansed, renewed in faith and gradually transformed though the power of the Holy Spirit into God’s Kingdom.

    Living together in mutual, respectful coexistence has been proven to be a false hope. After decades of slow manoeuvrings of the two sides, the stark proof that coexistence is impossible has been thrust upon us. I welcome this, as now conservative believers must recognise the reality of the situation. I would prefer an honest division to a slow erosion of orthodox belief and practice. There is no doubt that there needs to be a split. The only question is how is this is to be achieved.

  • CliveM

    Indeed in many ways the saddest part of this is the ecclesiastical bullying. Those involved should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

    But they won’t be.

    • 1649again

      End justifies the means old chap. The tactics that lead to the gulag as they build their touchy-feely inclusive utopia.

  • 1649again

    Excellent. All the things I said on the last article, albeit much more eloquently expressed by you Sir..

    The great issue is what next? Are traditionalist leaders just going to keep retreating or fight back? If they retreat again or flee then I doubt the depth of their conviction. Their position is much stronger than they appear to realise and their are powerful weapons to hand if they would but use them.

  • len

    As with all things, God knows best.
    It is when man thinks’ he knows better ‘that God allows man to test this theory out.
    6,000 yrs later God has been proved right and man has failed.Lesson learnt?. Not yet apparently.

  • Anton

    What will Welby do now? And if Nothing, what will others do?

    The root problem is, perhaps, the existence of a church having formal links with the political authorities in an era when secularism has become the default belief system.

  • Sarcon Malorn

    In the same vein as what is mentioned here, the Church of England also seems to have given off signals that white men like myself are unwelcome. For instance, does anyone remember the “pale, male and stale” comments that were floated around relatively recently? Here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32958213/god-is-neither-she-nor-he-say-anglican-priests

    Want to discuss whether or not discrimination exists so we can put an end to it? That sounds like a great idea to me! However, why are the terms which describe my race and sex being used in a pejorative manner?

    Stale? Pale? Male?

    I am defective, detested, offensive, and unwanted in the Church of England on account of my birth? This is an environment I am supposed to want to attend? Fine. No problem. None at all.

    Enjoy the empty pews.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Yes, there seems so much hate embedded in the modern church…and in modern society too for that matter…

  • The Explorer

    The Bible is not the word of God because there is no God seems to me an honourable position to hold. The honourable next step is to close down the religion.

    However, the position that God exists, but the Bible is not the word of God puzzles me. Why is it not?

    1. God exists, but is incapable of communicating with humanity. In which case, ignore him.

    2. God is capable of communicating with humanity, but has chosen not to. In which case, ignore him.

    3. God has chosen to communicate through a variety of written sources, of which the Bible is one, along with the ‘Iliad’, The Koran, the Rig Veda etc. Fair enough, in which case whichever one you adhere to is the one you happen to like, But you have no grounds for saying you are right, any more that than you have for criticising the views of those more theologically conservative than yourself.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Interesting, dear Explorer…and much to think upon

    • @ The Explorer—I suppose there is also the possibility that God exists and has communicated with Man but Man has tampered with the word. Gilad Atzmon, on pages 154-155 of The Wandering Who?: ‘Niels Lemche (in The Canaanites and Their Land) argues that the Bible was, for the most part, written after the Babylonian exile, and that those writings rework (and in large part reinvent) previous Israelite history to reflect and reiterate the experiences of those returning home from the Babylonian exile.’

      A comment I posted in January would suggest double tampering:

      Russell Gmirkin argues that Genesis was based on Berossus’ Babyloniaca and Exodus on Manetho’s Aegyptiaca. He writes that Exodus ‘shows considerable knowledge of Manetho’s accounts regarding Hyksos and expelled Egyptians, showing systematic agreement with Manetho in all details favorable or neutral to the Jews but containing polemics against precisely those points in Manetho that reflected unfavorably on the Jews.’

      • Martin

        Johnny

        Of course the ‘considerable knowledge’ might be due to being there.

      • Hi

        Repeat wash and rinse

        “Jews are cool and have nothing to do with the Gentile problems of Gentile Christianity”. This is Christianity’s problem and nothing to do with Jews.

      • The Explorer

        Yes, good point. Mormons, JW’s, Unitarians, Muslims etc have all tampered with the Bible to make it fit their theological suppositions, The tamperings become the standard versions for the respective groups, but they exist in tandem with the original rather than replacing the original.

        God, for whatever reason, allows the tamperings provided that the real version is still intact. If one of the tamperings (eg the Quran) managed to suppress the original, and God proved unable to prevent this, then that for me would be an example of category 1. Actually, it wouldn’t: it would be conclusive evidence for me that God did not exist.

  • The progressives talk much about equality and fairness

    Writing in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Churchill talked of the ‘reconstitution of society’ on the basis of ‘envious malevolence and impossible equality’. A hundred years on and progressives are still wreaking havoc.

    The Russian Orthodox Church is now, with the encouragement and help of the state, rebuilding herself. She is fortunate in that, throughout decades of persecution, her foundations remained rock solid. Rebuilding the C of E after the progressives have done their worst may not be quite so straightforward.

    • 1649again

      Good points Johnny, but if the CoE reconnects to the Word it will be rebuilt.

  • Andrew Holt

    When the church allies herself with political power, whether it be the Russian Orthodox with President Putin, the Chinese “Three Self” church with the communist party or the Church of England with the new, progressive establishment, nothing good can come of a continuing union. It is hard to see where the “traditionalists” can go except out. In the long run I suspect that such a rending will yield dividends in new growth, vigour and freedom to speak truth to power.

  • Don Benson

    This is as perfect an analysis of the situation as we will see.

    I pray that the Archbishop of Canterbury (and the friends with whom he has surrounded himself) will read it in humility and address its implications honestly. For, make no mistake, unless he changes course very rapidly he will go down as the disastrous bookend to a glorious period of church history begun by that great man of faith, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Cranmer may have been famously flawed at times as a man but that didn’t stop him from using his gifts, allowing his Master to breathe through him a work of faithful doctrine and liturgy (a work which unquestioningly ceded all authority to the words of the Bible); and that work has served the spiritual needs of millions of Christians over the centuries, both here and around the world.

    But now the many faithful orthodox believers in the Church of England owe their church and our nation not to give up and leave before they have fought one last great battle to save it. And they need to fight with every fibre of their beings. Like the Master, they should not shrink from cleansing the temple for the sake of avoiding the unpleasantness involved. They have to organise, communicate, speak up, face up and, above all else, pray. We all have to pray. Our God can, if he chooses, silence the deluded men and women whose minds have been captured by the devilish narrative of ‘equalities’; in an instant he can wreak havoc among them, causing them to fight amongst themselves and defeat their own cause.

    Faithful bishops and clergy in particular have been silent as a group for far too long; a few of us have regularly called on them to act. They must urgently, directly and powerfully address our two archbishops, convincing them of the gravity of the situation; perhaps they should have one last serious attempt to talk through the theology with them. This may be their very last chance. I think they are now obligated to act and that, if they don’t, we will have no reason to deserve God’s intervention to save our church.

    • David

      Very well put.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Cranmer the 1st started a great work. This woeful shower have finished off the undermining of its foundation.

  • Sarky

    Having read the blog and comments in the last couple of days, there send to be alot of blame laying but no acceptance of responsibility. Is it not your church??
    Christians in this country are very good at blaming everything for their woes, women, gays, secular humanists, harry potter.. I can’t remember anyone holding their hands up and saying ‘its a fair cop, we’ve let this happen on our watch’. Where’s your fight??? The future of your church is at stake and what do you do?? Blame everything but yourselves. Prehaps you should stop just being keyboard warriors and get out there and fight before your church is consigned to history.

    • William Lewis

      In answer to your first question, no, it is God’s Church. What is at stake is the future and nature of the CoE hierarchy. The question is, will this hierarchy be willing or able to accommodate traditional orthodoxy or not. The silence from Lambeth is deafening.

      • Manfarang

        So the Methodists are not God’s Church?

        • William Lewis

          How so?

          • Manfarang

            Let me put it another way. If the C of E is God’s Church then by implication the other churches are not God’s.

          • Martin

            No church is exclusively the Church.

          • William Lewis

            God’s Church is the body of Christian believers, some of whom choose to live out their faith is accordance with the provisions of the CoE.

          • Manfarang

            yet have I made myself servant unto all

        • Dominic Stockford

          Some Methodists are PART of Christ’s Church, it seems that it is now a receding number of CofEers who are PART of Christ’s Church, and so on.

          • Martin

            Dominic

            Diminishing?

          • Dominic Stockford

            I was thinking of the tide, but my hairline will do instead….

      • Sarky

        If it ‘was’ gods church, you wouldn’t be in this mess.

        • 1649again

          Humans are capable of screwing everything up Sarky. That’s the whole point of the Old Testament – it’s a case study of how a people singularly blessed by God screw it all up time and again.

          • Martin

            We see the churches making a mess of things in the New Testament. Men always will but as long as they turn to God they will survive. Trouble is, there seem fewer in the CoE willing to turn to God.

        • William Lewis

          What mess am I in?

      • Merchantman

        I think the situation has reached a point where the leadership are now seen to have surrendered authority, which begs the question has God now left the C of E? Screaming and shouting and showing a hissy fit have made a total power grab. True believers, now probably a mere remnant in any case, should show the respect the screamers merit and actually speak out in church at an appropriate moment, respectfully and calmly against this sub-christian form.

        • William Lewis

          Good points!

    • 1649again

      Good points all Sarky. The traditionalist leadership such as they are need to drop all the temporising clerical language and state the issues plainly. Where’s the passion? It’s all ‘reflect prayerfully’ and no action. Time to take the scourge to the temple.

      • Anton

        But not necessarily over Philip North. Pick a row over SSM, but start small and then escalate as the liberals do.

        • len

          The thin end of the wedge, then ram it home just like Percy did?.

        • 1649again

          It will start with something seemingly small but highly symbolic. Why not over the bullying of a good man?

      • Sarky

        Yep, its all a bit wet. Hate to say it, but they could learn alot from islam.

        • CliveM

          Like what?

          • Sarky

            To be strong and uncompromising.

          • CliveM

            Ever wondered why there are Shia and Shiite Muslims? Because early on a group of them decided not too compromise. How many millions have died because of that?

            The question isn’t about being uncompromising, it’s about having the Grace to understand where you can compromise and where you can’t, to have the faith to suffer for it.

            But if you are willing to see other people die in their thousands, you’ve got it wrong.

            Which is why I disagree with your original statement.

          • Sarky

            Really??? Strong christian leaders would cause the deaths of thousands? By uncompromising, i mean not giving in to the whims of the day.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Not too good at history are we.

          • Sarky

            Are you saying lessons of the past haven’t been learnt??

          • Martin

            Sarky

            I’m saying that, among other things, you’re not to good at history.

          • CliveM

            Now Sarky you know with regards second sentence that’s not what I’m saying. Simply pointing out that the Muslim model comes with its own problems.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Fat chance of this shower doing that!

    • Martin

      Sarky

      Those outside the CoE have been warning them for years. It is a church, an offspring of the Church which will continue until the end of time.

    • Hi

      I’ve also noticed a lot of sarky bashing. Hey you are the focus group’s potential target,ie a heterosexual male with a family. Yet they still stick two fingers up to you???

      • Sarky

        Hey!! I think sometimes they prefer to hide behind doors, in their little groups, moaning that the whole world has got it in for them. They complain about victemhood, but do exactly the same.

  • Manfarang

    Neo-Arianism eh?
    A couple of years ago I went with my wife to the Songdhammakayani Monastery which is not far from where we live. Nothing unusual about that you may think, Thailand is full of monks. These monks were different, they were female monks led by the Venerable Dhammananda . In Thailand only men can be ordained as monks, but this was not always the case, Buddhism had its female monks centuries ago.
    To those concerned about the Reverend Doctor’s article above: Who were the first at the tomb of Jesus?

    • 1649again

      Fair point, but this isn’t really about female clergy at all, it’s about all that through the door with it, the misuse of power by the liberals, the void of leadership at the top of the CoE and the naivety of many traditionalist clergy who are now realising they’ve been lied to.

    • Martin

      What difference does it make what the heathen does? Christians have God’s word and that is very clear.

      • Manfarang

        What difference does it make? I knew a man who went to Nepal as a missionary, he lost his Christian faith as he became more familiar with the beliefs of others. The Bible is a set of books a lot of which constitutes Judaism.

        • Martin

          Then he never had Christian faith. Judaism was the shell for Christianity, the shell is now broken.

          • Manfarang

            Very much unbroken I am pleased to say.

          • Martin

            Broken, the bird has flown. Judaism rejected its Messiah and thus its God for a god of its own making.

          • Manfarang

            The messiah (mashiach) is not God but one who has come to build the third temple.

          • Martin

            The Messiah is the Temple, He is also the Sacrifice and the Priest. There is no need of an earthly temple when God dwells with men.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Manfarang doesn’t seem terribly orthodox!

          • Manfarang

            The shul is the modern temple.

          • Martin

            No it isn’t, the Temple is where God dwells.

          • Manfarang

            God is everywhere.

          • Martin

            Then your previous answer is wrong.

          • Manfarang

            A temple is a place of worship.

            God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

            5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

          • Anton

            You mean Orthodox Judaism. Christianity *is* messianic Judaism, the messiah being Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Of course.

          • Hi

            Messianic Judaism is Christianity with a dash of Judaism , a veneer of Judaism to convert uneducated Jews to Christianity .

          • Martin

            Hannah

            Christianity is the true Judaism, the religion of Noah, Abraham, Moses & David.

          • Hi

            Christianity isn’t authentic Judaism, you silly Billy

          • William Lewis

            And Isaiah.

          • Anna

            Some of the Messianic Jews are highly educated.

          • Hi

            Judaism didn’t reject the messiah as Jesus of Nazareth blatantly failed to fulfil any of the biblical criteria for being messiah.

          • Martin

            Hannah

            On the contrary.

          • Hi

            well if we’re talking eggs. …Belonging to the Jewish people is like a Fabergé egg – utterly priceless and original….

          • Hi

            Lol, Judaism isn’t some shell for Christianity.

          • Martin

            Hannah

            Yes it was. Now it is simply idolatry.

          • Hi Martin ,

            “And who is like your people Israel — the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.” — 2 Samuel 7:23-24

          • Martin

            Hannah

            Remember, Israel’s status was very much provisional on their obedience. None would be more pleased than I to see them restored.

          • Hi Martin

            I did ask one of our Mahamad (Elder) about your views and he said that just as we’re Torah Jews , so you are an authentic Biblical Christian….

          • Hi

            So full of idolatry that we’re celebrating Purim. As per Esther chapter 9-
            I’m guessing the book of Esther isn’t in the fundamentalist bible-

            “Wherefore they called these days Purim, after the name of pur. Therefore because of all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and that which had come unto them, the Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to the writing thereof, and according to the appointed time thereof, every year; and that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

            Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote down all the acts of power, to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had ordained for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the commandment of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book”

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Wise words Dr Ashendon. Thank You. I can’t say I’m surprised at what has happened to Philip North given the militancy and intolerance of those in the feminist movement. The further collapse of the CofE is now inevitable. Those of us who no longer darken its doors have affirmed that the institution itself is not the cornerstone of our faith but an expression of it. We don’t need the CofE to be Christian. The church is not a political movement that needs to grab public approval and power. Its power is inherent in the Word and its belief by those who read it. I would not be greatly troubled by the collapse of the CofE, especially as it now preaches a false gospel. The churches collapse may well be the much-needed impetus for Christians to return to their Biblical roots.

    • Manfarang

      The Church is not political? It is a state church so it has a political relationship.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Which is why it’s in such a mess. It’s supposed to preach the Gospel of Christ, not of the UK Governnent.

  • carl jacobs

    The vulnerability of +Philip North proved too tempting a target, and the progressives struck too soon and too hard.

    The interesting thing about this event is that Liberals have finally lost control of the narrative. They are spinning a story to assert that they didn’t tear up the compromise after all. No, it was just that:

    1. Synod didn’t know what it was voting for.
    2. There are just a few details that still need to be worked out.
    3. A diocesan was never part of the bargain.
    4. Women need accommodation from men who don’t recognize WO.

    No doubt it will please their friends at the BBC. The problem is that Liberals already own that constituency. It doesn’t matter what their secular allies think. What matters is what conservatives think. And here is the narrative that conservatives heard.

    1. “We liberals define ‘mutual flourishing’ today.”
    2. “We liberals will define ‘mutual flourishing’ tomorrow.”
    3. “We liberals will decide when ‘mutual flourishing’ has served its purpose.”
    4. “You conservatives exist in this church at our sufferance.”

    The subtle strategy of “Compromise, create irreversible facts, undue the compromise” has been made public by a premature enactment of the “undue the compromise” clause. And no amount of spin can undo the revelation. It is much easier to establish dominance when your opponent is lulled into believing in your good intentions. Compulsion is only supposed to occur when dominance is firmly established. What happened to Philip North was an act of compulsion by liberals who momentarily forgot they don’t own the church just yet. It prefigured what will happen to other bishops and clergy when liberals don;t have to worry about compromises anymore.

    The immediate practical impact is that liberals will no longer be able to get what the want with sweet words that they don;t really mean. They will have to ram it through by force. The pleasant face will give way to bared fangs with all that implies for church unity. The long term impact is that conservatives now know unambiguously where they stand.

    • bluedog

      Excellent analysis.

  • Carlotta

    Hi – I’m new to this group though I’ve been following discussions over recent weeks. I emailed the Archbishop: ” I am appalled at the treatment of Bishop North and his forced withdrawal from a proposed appointment due to his orthodox / traditional belief in Women’s Ordination. Your Grace has been notably silent on the matter. I have been a lifelong Anglican, but the CoE’s likely acceptance of SSM, practising homosexuals ordained and consecrated and now this are driving me to leave this decaying, increasingly secular organisation. I hope we may hear some cogent statement from you soon. “Inclusive”? I don’t think so.”

    and received this very prompt reply:

    “Archbishop Justin has asked me to acknowledge your message about Bishop Philip North’s decision to withdraw from his nomination as the Bishop of Sheffield. I must though make very plain indeed that Bishop North was not ‘forced’ to withdraw. To do so was entirely his own decision.
    Sheffield, and Burnley where Bishop Philip currently serves, are in the Northern Province and I am asked to draw your attention to the Archbishop of York’s statement about the Bishop’s decision. You will find it at http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3610/archbishop-of-york-statement-on-bishop-philip-north
    Archbishop Justin commends Bishop Philip to your prayers.
    Yours sincerely
    Trevor Nunn, Correspondence Secretary.”

    As newcomer, I’d like to say thank you to all contributors – I have found it extremely helpful.

    • carl jacobs

      Welcome to Cranmer’s.

      • Carlotta

        Thank you

        • 1649again

          Dear Carlotta — welcome. I’m sure you know that you can never expect a straight answer from a bureaucrat!

          • carl jacobs

            What? You don’t believe Trevor Nunn when he said “Archbishop Justin has asked me to acknowledge your message”? Surely you don’t think that was just a form e-mail sent out to anyone who might inquire about the matter. Surely there was a personal touch to this otherwise completely dry and bureaucratic communication. How cynical you are,1649.

          • 1649again

            Don’t believe a word Carl and would be happy to call him a truth twister to his face.

          • Carlotta

            Indeed. However, I thought it interesting the reply came through in just over an hour, possibly indicating a degree of preparation? Or perhaps JW was actually consulted!!

          • 1649again

            Exactly – they will have a Q&A for all involved staff which will have been in preparation for over 48 hours. It’s just like working on hostile take-over bids all over again!

          • Anton

            Just been to your brewery. Thank you! More thanks by email when I’m back next week.

          • 1649again

            Did you get the glasses and discount?

          • Anton

            I showed them your email and Yes, that’s why I am thanking you!

          • carl jacobs

            It wasn’t warm beer, was it? Beer isn’t supposed to be warm.

          • 1649again

            Cool, not cold, so you have lots of flavour. Not frozen muck like Bud that has no taste.

          • carl jacobs

            Do you know I once spent 15 minutes in the aisle of a store looking to purchase some beer, and after 15 minutes of vain searching I concluded that Budweiser was my best option. It was horrible. Scarring in fact. Can you imagine the selection that would force Budweiser to the top of the list?

          • Anton

            It took at least 60 years for your brewing industry to recover from Prohibition. Microbrew finally came good. You presumably know that prohibition ended because Uncle Sam needed the tax revenue from alcoholic drink?

          • carl jacobs

            Tsk. Such a cynical attitude …

          • IrishNeanderthal

            As Chesterton wrote in 1933:

            THE SIN OF PROHIBITION

          • 1649again

            My deepest sympathies.

          • Hi

            I’m into “broadside” at present.

          • 1649again

            Good beer, nice people, almost as good as ours!

          • Hi

            Albeit I absolutely refuse to drink out of a pint glass, which for a girl is utterly vulgar& laddish.

          • 1649again

            We do some very nice stemmed half pint beer glasses Hannah.

          • Dominic Stockford

            “Warm beer, and old maids cycling to matins through the morning mist” – which went to show how little John Major knew about anything.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            I’m sure Edwina taught him a lot…

          • Anton

            He wrote a decent enough book about the history of cricket.

    • Martin

      Carlotta

      it is interesting to see the equivocation in the reply you received.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Welcome dear Carlotta, here you will make many friends I am sure…

      • Carlotta

        Thank you Mrs Proudie. Your articles at the end of the week are a highlight for me and raise many a chuckle. I do greatly appreciate them. With regard to Cranmer’s, it has been such a comfort to find like minds – to know I’m not the only one saddened and disillusioned. And I’m most grateful for the information and new avenues that have opened up for me such as GAFCON which I didn’t know of before.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          You are most kind…His Grace asked if I minded being ‘shunted’ this week because of the Bishop North affair, so my offering will be posted anon. I am glad they raise a chuckle, for that is always my intention.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I was hoping that you would be, no insult intended, but this situation needed this last word.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            No insult taken, dear Dominic, and yes, this affair needed further comment and consideration.

    • David

      Welcome aboard, Carlotta. Having read your views I think I can safely say that you will be with friends. There are many Anglicans, and others, here who think like you. For example I too am a Gafcon supporter.

    • len

      Hi Carlotta

    • Chris Wilkinson

      Apart from the first few sentences, I had exactly the same response. I went on to suggest that bishop Phillip should be appointed To London. That diocese has a history of the diocesan not ordaining women and the diocese is flourishing !

      • Carlotta

        Brilliant idea. OTH – don’t suppose Gavin Ashenden is eligible for London

        • Dominic Stockford

          Gavin Ashenden could be appointed anywhere. He won’t be given a pleasant time if he is though, sadly.

          • Carlotta

            Unfortunately, I’m afraid you speak true

      • betteroffoutofit

        London? Interesting and rather wonderful. There, perhaps they find it practical to unite against the harsh reality of the Other Enemy.

    • Anton

      Trevor Nunn is a senior artistic director with various theatre companies. How appropriate…

      • betteroffoutofit

        Yes, I did a double take on the name!!! Is it the same Trevor Nunn?

        Should we, then, think in terms of “To be, or not to be . . .”? In any case, Nunn’s claim consists with commonly practiced stagecraft! His: “I must though make very plain indeed that Bishop North was not ‘forced’ to withdraw. To do so was entirely his own decision,” presents the ‘outcome’ of a scenario in which directors surrounded a victim with negative feedback.

        In the private and real world, of course, marxist producers of such scenes aim to drive their opposers either to madness or to suicide. Here on the modern public stage, where audiences know less of Shakespeare and “Hamlet” than did their predecessors, pressures and reactions are more overt but less carefully considered. Publicly or privately, though, the setting is so manipulated that the fault seems to lie in the character of the one abused – beset by a “sea of troubles.”

    • Dominic Stockford

      Responding to being harassed and bullied by leaving the situation causing it isn’t “entirely” your own decision. That is a shocking reply you received. Did he also wash his hands in a bowl as he wrote it, I wonder?

    • Jill

      I should perhaps point out that the correspondence secretary, Trevor Nunn, is a gay man, and probably doesn’t like the way this conversation is going. If he wrote this letter himself it might explain the curt tone.

      • William Lewis

        There’s a lot of it about.

  • chefofsinners

    Gavin’s article has the feel of Geoffrey Howe’s resignation speech. Restrained, calm, measured and as a result utterly deadly. Coming from one who has been at the heart of this controversy, it will be a tipping point for many. Like a bullied and battered wife, when the moment to leave finally comes it is often, in retrospect, long overdue.

    To those now considering their own position, like Lot in Sodom or Elijah in the court of Ahab, I would say that you may find a pleasant surprise in nonconformist circles. There are many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and who love the same Lord as you. Anglicans will find their traditions respected, their hymns sung and even their liturgy widely valued. Indeed many of us are more conformist than the CoE these days. My own church was much blessed a few weeks ago by the ministry of an Anglican priest who has recently left the CoE. He is much encouraged by the fellowship he has found on the outside, and our members with CoE backgrounds were greatly encouraged by him.
    By all means stay and fight if that is your calling. By all means cooperate wherever you can. But if you feel, like Geoffrey Howe, that the time has come to consider your response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which you have wrestled for perhaps too long, then do not be afraid of what lies beyond the Church of post-Christian England.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Is your church the United Reformed Church, dear chef?

      • chefofsinners

        You gotta be kidding. That lot don’t even preach a proper gospel.

        • Martin

          Neither united nor reformed and there’s doubt about the rest? As was said when they were formed.

          • Dominic Stockford

            A couple of them have headed the EFCC way in the last few years. Some have taken a while to see the light!

          • chefofsinners

            Alright, to respond a bit more helpfully, low Anglicans who are finding it all a bit much at the moment might find rest for their souls in:
            – The Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC – as Dominic says). Also some Congregational Federation churches remain fairly sound.
            – Some traditional Methodist churches.
            – Many Baptist churches.
            – Federation of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC)
            – Some churches that are or were Open Brethren.
            – Lutherans.
            – Presbyterians.
            – Various other independent evangelical churches.
            No two nonconformist churches are the same, so if it goes horribly wrong don’t blame me…

          • Martin

            CoS

            Ahem, the BU is pretty much as Spurgeon predicted over the Downgrade Controversy. I suggest they look for independent Baptists or Grace Baptists.

          • chefofsinners

            Yes, it’s an imperfect and incomplete list at best. No offence intended to anyone. Except progressive Anglicans of course.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Many Independent Baptists are, ironically, in the FIEC!

          • Martin

            Dominic

            True.

          • Dominic Stockford

            That’s a pretty good list.

            Some even have a liturgical service, as we do (being a 19th C breakaway from the CofE).

          • That’s FELLOWSHIP of Independent Evangelical Churches.
            There are nearly 600 of us so there should be one somewhere near you. There are nearly 600 of us so there should be one somewhere near you.

          • chefofsinners

            Just my little joke, Martin. Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Knitwear it is.

          • Fellowship of Independent Evangelical CHEFS, I think.

        • David

          Is your church a secret ?

          • chefofsinners

            No, it just doesn’t matter what my church is. Each must find their own.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah, Seventh Day Adventist…

          • chefofsinners

            Aaaargh! I’d rather spend seven days at the dentist.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You do realise I am teasing you, dear heart?

          • chefofsinners

            The wound received in the house of my friends is surely the deepest and hardest to heal.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            ooooooer

          • chefofsinners

            Madam! It appears you have fallen asleep on your keyboard.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Fear not, a delicate sip of Daffy’s Elixir and a a passage or two of Bishop Berkeley are sufficient to wake me up…

          • chefofsinners

            I am sure that Daffy and the Bishop will be aroused just as much as you are.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            You seem decidedly dyspeptic this evening…I recommend a cold porridge poultice and an infusion of bile beans…

          • chefofsinners

            Dyspeptic? There’s nothing wrong with my spelling. I think you should look a little closer to home.

          • David

            Evasive !

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          I have moments of veering towards Presbyterianism, but then sanity kicks in…

          • bluedog

            Heavens. A Barchester chapter of the Wee Free?

            Perish the thought, but Carl could probably provide you with Instruction.

        • Hi

          I thought you were a Methodist?

  • carl jacobs

    The Detective Chief Inspector examines the body of Good Disagreement as it lays on the ground with an axe in the back of its head

    Main Suspect: “I didn’t do anything! I was just standing here … holding an axe. Then he just comes out of nowhere and impales his head on my axe. I was as surprised as anybody.”

    • chefofsinners

      Main suspect: Good Disagreement was terminally ill. I averted a long, drawn out period of suffering. It’s what he would have wanted. Did I mention that in his will he left everything to me?

  • Gladiatrix

    What this episode has really proved is how unprincipled and unreliable Welby and Sentamu are. They put Philip North up for election believing him to be the right man for the role and then stood by and did nothing to help him when he was made the target of misandrist abuse. What a pair of spineless gutless cowards they are.

    • Merchantman

      You are absolutely right. They should have physically and publically gone up to Sheffield and said this is your new Bishop; we are authorising his appointment.
      In fact they have set a dreadful precedent that anarchy rules.
      It looks like they Sat Back and watched him being shredded.
      It means they have now set the precedent for an elected Episcopy which rests entirely on how many in the crowd shout ‘bigot’ or ‘crucify him’.

      • 1649again

        Great comment and a wonderful analogy. Leaders who don’t have the conviction to lead or defend their decisions should be sacked.

      • David

        Excellent comment ! So we now have two brave archbishops who tentatively suggest who might become the next bishop, and then scurry away, watching to see if their nominee is publicly attacked and rejected by the local feminist mob, or not. What traditionalist would want to subject themselves to that sort of ugly selection process ? I can’t see anyone else wanting to put their head above the parapet. But of course that is the whole idea of it – to impose your “liberal” ideas on all by intimidation.

      • chiaramonti

        The next step is obvious. Barabbas for Bishop of Sheffield!

        • Merchantman

          No doubt we shall see in due course but henceforth maybe Sheffield should be left vacant.

  • Inspector General

    Good day to you Ashenden. Another fine piece from yourself.

    Do you know, Sentamu could do far worse than hand the see of Sheffield to you. After all, if a worldly wise former oil executive can end up in Canterbury in next to no time, surely there’s room for a truly spiritual intellect as yours in an old steel town.

    Keep up the good work sir!

  • Dominic Stockford

    Excellent Article. Thank you.

    ‘This is the end…’

  • IrishNeanderthal

    The article says:

    And you can only do that by treating Jesus as a man of his culture, constrained by that culture and impeded by his lack of living on the giddy wise heights of the beginning of the third millennium.

    Which Chesterton had already addressed at the beginning of the 20th Century. He had been invited to reply to an article in The Hibbert Journal, which had challenged our Lord’s divinity and attributed human fallibility and error to His teaching. He begins by saying that he intends to speak of ‘the actual Jesus as He appears in the New Testament; not as He appears to a believer, but as He appears to anybody; as He appeared to me when I was an agnostic; as He appeared and still appears to pagans when they first read about Him.’ If, therefore, he says, I speak of Him in this article with something that even sounds like levity, let it be understood that l am speaking for the sake of argument of a hypothetical human Jesus in the Syrian documents and not of that divine personality in whom I believe.’

    THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST

    ‘Now, the thing that strikes me most about [the critic] is that he is wrong on the facts. He is especially wrong on the primary fact of what sort of person the Jesus of the Gospels appears to be. The whole of [his] contention is ultimately this; that when we look, so to speak, through the four windows of the Evangelists at this mysterious figure, we can see there a recognizable Jew of the first century, with the traceable limitations of such a man. Now this is exactly what we do not see. If we must put the thing profanely and without sympathy, what we see is this: an extraordinary being who would certainly have seemed as mad in one century as another, who makes a vague and vast claim to divinity, who constantly contradicts himself, who imposes impossible commands, who where he seems wrong to us would certainly have seemed quite as wrong to anybody else, who where he seems right to us is often in tune with matters not ancient but modern, such, for instance, as the adoration of children. For some of his utterances men might fairly call him a maniac; for others, men long centuries afterwards might justly call him a prophet. But what nobody can possibly call him is a Galilean of the time of Tiberius. That was not how he appeared to his own family who tried to lock him up as a lunatic. That is not how he appeared to his own nation, who lynched him, still shuddering at his earth-shaking blasphemies. The impression produced on sceptics, ancient and modern, is not that of limits, but rather of a dangerous absence of limits; a certain shapelessness and mystery of which one cannot say how far it will go. . . . The thing to say about Jesus, if you do not like Him, is that He was a megalomaniac like Nero or a mystagogue like Cagliostro. But whether or no He was small, it is plain that the Gospels are too small for Him. Whether or no He is large, He is too large for the stage. . . .

    If I take it for granted (as most modern people do) that Jesus of Nazareth was one of the ordinary teachers of men, then I find Him splendid and suggestive indeed, but full of riddles and outrageous demands, by no means so workable and everyday an adviser as many heathens and many Jesuits. But if I put myself hypothetically into the other attitude, the case becomes curiously arresting and even thrilling. If I say ‘Suppose the Divine did really walk and talk upon the earth, what should we be likely to think of it?’ — then the foundations of my mind are moved. So far as I can form any conjecture, I think we should see in such a being exactly the perplexities that we see in the central figure of the Gospels: I think he would seem to us extreme and violent; because he would see some further development in virtue which would be for us untried. I think he would seem to us to contradict himself; because, looking down on life like a map, he would see a connection between things which to us are disconnected. I think, how ever, that he would always ring true to our own sense of right, but ring (so to speak) too loud and too clear. He would be too good but never too bad for us: ‘Be ye perfect.’ I think would be, in the nature of things, some tragic collision between him and the humanity he had created, culminating in something that would be at once a crime and an expiation. I think he would be blamed as a hard prophet for dragging down the haughty, and blamed also as a weak sentimentalist for loving the things that cling in corners, children or beggars. I think, in short, that he would give us a sensation that he was turning all our standards upside down, and yet also a sensation that he had undeniably put them the right way up. So, if I had been a Greek sage or an Arab poet before Christ, I should have figured to myself, in a dream, what would actually happen if this earth bore secretly the father of gods and men. In the abstract, it may be that it is still only a dream. Between those who think it is a dream and those who do not, is to be waged the great war of our future in which all these frivolities will be forgotten.

    Hibbert Journal, July, 1909

  • Hi

    In a parallel universe , the archdruid of Canterbury has said men can be vestal virgins , despite this being only open to virgin women in the past. It’s equality and stuff you see.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Can a man now become an Anglican nun?

      • Martin

        Mrs Proudie

        Only if he self identifies as a female Martian.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          Well what is sauce for the gander must be sauce for the goose, for so it is written in St. Greer chpt.12 v 32

          • betteroffoutofit

            Yikes!! You mean you actually read it? You’ve stronger digestion than I, dear lady; I much prefer hob nobs.

        • Hi

          You might be confusing Martians for Venusians…

          • Martin

            Hannah

            True.

      • chefofsinners

        Ssssh… Linus will think all his birthdays have arrived at once.

        • 1649again

          Ssh, he’s probably off his head on poppers, Cointreau-and-lemonade, and on his fourth Romanian rent boy by now. Leave him be.

  • Damian

    While I am disgusted by the events spoken of here, I am thinking of a quote from one of the Roman Emperors who, realising that all was about to be lost, and anticipating the early arrival of the barbarians, was heard to say, ‘It might in a strange way be a kind of solution.’ I almost hope the next nominee for the See of Sheffield will be a woman and a right feminist. Then we would all be in possession of the truth of how much they all hate and despise our integrity. Then we would all be as one, ready to move on, and not to look back.

  • HedgehogFive

    The West has got itself into this mess, on both sides of the Atlantic, by following a religion of sex (of which Kinsey is a major prophet).

    Because of the commandment “thou shalt not criticize the sexual behaviour of thy neighbour”, we are all living in an atmosphere of touchiness, where accusations of homophobia are only the tip of the iceberg, the majority of which below sea level relates to heterosexual behaviour.

    The West is also threatened by the influx of lots of fellows from across the Mediterranean whose culture is much more driven by the concept of masculinity. In a ghastly mirror of this phenomenon, the Hedgehogatollah suggests that the reason the gay humans are so much more offended by Christians than by Muslims (many of whom want to kill them) is that the Christian attitude of not wanting to kill them touches them in a much more sensitive place.

    • chefofsinners

      Is the Hedgehogatollah related to the Irish Imam Atallatallatollah at all?

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Would Hannah and all those who are arguing with her please pause and watch this video:

    Oklahoma! – The Farmer And The Cowman

    • IanCad

      No gender confusion there – not a whit.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector spent some time today at the Maggot Hill home for the worn out. Let him tell you now, if such is your state that you cannot take whisky (which was brought along) for fear of it sending your medication killer, then you have passed your best before date, and shame on you for allowing that.

    One is reminded from that experience of the realities of life, that some folk are more concerned about the presence of molecules of tallow in £5 notes than the truth of Christ. The same mentality which says we must have women bishops because we must. Yet not one of them has written anything of any worth, unlike our grand acquaintance, Ashenden.

    • chefofsinners

      Anyone who has a problem with £5 notes can send them my way. Or hit Cranmer’s Donations tab (top of page).

      • CliveM

        Anyone who has a problem with £5 because of the tallow, should do a little checking into how widespread it is in plastics. They’ll have meltdown.

    • 1649again

      Mentioning whisky IG….

      • Inspector General

        We must get together some time…

        • 1649again

          I think we’d have fun. Come up to the brewery some time.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Since the IG and friends are talking about whisky, would you classify this as “good disagreement”?

    Peter Sellers – A Drop of the Hard Stuff

    • dannybhoy

      that’s a brilliant clip, I love it!

    • IanCad

      Kilburn High Road – The Admiral Nelson. Olden days and Butty Sugrue.

  • Inspector General

    Ah, the gay take on life, Hannah. One never expected such degeneration of the human spirit than what we see now.

  • Inspector General

    Now now, Hannah. You must appreciate that as a self declared lesbian, and thus a sterile thing, your opinions count for nought. Let’s leave the future of humanity to those who produce the future of humanity, and not a moment too soon, what !

    • Hi inspector

      How silly of you to have missed the deadpan humour in the initial post.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Inspector, that’s very naughty of you. Apologise to Hannah at once. or no hobnobs for you!

      • Inspector General

        I say, Mrs Proudie, this ‘Good Disagreement’ lark is great fun!

      • Hi

        But, but depriving inspector access to your hobnobs is surely against all human rights stuff? Lock him in the tower or send him to gitmo,but deprive him of hobnobs? A fate worse than death. I shall forgive inspector and his brief moment of madness , so he can keep access to the finest hobnobs in the kingdom….

  • Royinsouthwest

    Would Happy Jack be happy to live there?

  • Inspector General

    Why? Are you not aware of the truth of your own condition?

    • Hi

      Because you are a self-described bachelor who has no wife or children. Ergo you are also sterile. Ergo you opinions also count for naught. Ergo you creep onto a gay website and give people here all the ins and outs of it. I have no “condition”.

      Do I need to continue?

      • Inspector General

        Do continue. Yes, it’s true. The Inspector has no issue. Not what one had planned, but there you go. But one realises the hetronormative is the only way.

        Why so touchy? If you have regrets about your condition than say you do. What is the point of denying?

        • Hi

          Well my initial post was humorous and not serious. I’m disappointed you didn’t see that.

          • Inspector General

            We use live ammunition on this site. Didn’t you know?

          • Hi

            And the point you made ” as a self declared lesbian, and thus a sterile thing, your opinions count for nought”, applies to you as well.

          • Inspector General

            Does it now…

          • Hi

            If that’s how you want our discussions to be like then from now on you will have them.

          • Inspector General

            It’s called life, Hannah…

          • Hi

            As you wish.

  • Martin

    Martyn Percy displaying his bigotry on BBCR4 Sunday this morning.

    • IanCad

      Heard it. The god of equality rules supreme. Bishop Tony Robinson was made to look bad for his refusal to debate Dr. Percy on air.

      • Martin

        Ian

        It’s what you expect from Sunday, they ban people for disagreeing with them, much like the harpies of Sheffield.

      • Sarky

        Tony Robinson is a bishop??
        Does he have a cunning plan?

        • IanCad

          Sarky,
          I had no trouble tumbling your earlier planetary allusion, but I am at a loss as to sussing out your meaning in this comment.

          • Jill

            Have you never heard of Baldrick?

          • IanCad

            I’ve seen a YouTube clip. Some dopey soldier as I best recall.

          • Jill

            He is the one who always had a ‘cunning plan’.

          • Sarky

            Not a blackadder fan then.

          • IanCad

            Don’t have a TV Sarky. Not even as a child. Perhaps such deprivation would be considered child abuse today.

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Never had a TV? Well y you haven’t missed anything, apart from the X-Files

          • Sarky

            Game of thrones??

          • carl jacobs

            My wife and I stayed up until 1:00 am this morning to finish “The Shadow Line”. To say my expectations went unrewarded is an understatement. And this in a series with generally tight writing.

            Or is it just the spirit of the age giving voice to itself?

          • Sarky

            No tv??? Don’t know what is do without it……probably have to talk to the mrs.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    very good…love the gas giants bit

  • Mike Stallard

    I left. Now I am a happy (not clappy) Catholic. Lovely.

    • bluedog

      Got anything new to say?

      • Mike Stallard

        Yup – have you read this week’s Spectator about the situation in Rome?

        Also, this very afternoon (3.30 p.m.) I went to our local Church and looked through the window (it was locked). There was a nice little niche all cosy and one of the chairs had a tear in it. Today I counted no less than 4 cars turning up to “Holy Communion”. The altar frontal was, of course, its usual off white self. So I can agree with his Grace that “The number of Anglicans has, in fact, plummeted.” Well it has here.

        Is that new enough?

        • Terry Mushroom

          My wife and I are shortly to go again to Peniscola, the home of Benedict XIII, one of the schismatic Avignon Popes. I’ve no idea what his personal life was like, but they’ve been some shockers.

          All rather unedifying. But in a perverse way, it shows there’s a divine spark keeping the Church alive because there’s certainly been some idiots in charge.

          I find Francis disconcerting and a very poor communicator. However, because of his office, I believe I should listen attentively to what he says. But he’s not infallible every time he opens his mouth. And he cannot change scripture or the Church’s universally held and taught tradition.

          • Mike Stallard

            What a lovely comment! Well written!

          • Martin

            Terry

            Actually the church of Rome died long ago and lost its lampstand.

          • Terry Mushroom

            It depends what you mean by the “Church of Rome.” Accurately described, I am a Catholic of the Church of Plymouth whose Bishop is in union with the Bishop of Rome. My Bishop Mark is as much a Bishop as Bishop (Pope) Francis.

            My Church belongs to the Latin rite. There are also Churches of the Eastern rite in union with Rome with their own liturgies and customs. They are as Catholic as Plymouth, Paris or, say, Surat Thani, in Thailand to pick at random. The key is the unity with the Diocese of Rome whose Bishop is currently Francis.

            If any Church is weak or suffering then so do they all in the way a body suffers if a part is ill. But we can and do strengthen each other.

            We believe that Christ is with us until the end of time.

          • Martin

            Terry

            The church of Rome is that ruled over by the bishop of Rome.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Yes, I know. He is the Bishop of the Church of Rome in Rome.

            He doesn’t “rule” the dioceses of the Bishops in union with him. They are as much Bishops as he is. They are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches. Each Bishop shares in a concern for all the Churches

            The Pope is the head of the college of Bishops which has no authority unless united with him, as Peter’s successor.

            When you tell me that ” the Church of Rome died long ago”you are telling me that you think the Diocese of Rome is dead. Certainly some of the Catholic Churches are floundering. But not world wide.

            I’m happy to be called a “Roman” Catholic if it helps to make clear that my Bishop is in union with Rome. But we normally just describe ourselves as “Catholics” when speaking or writing. Thus, Happy Jack is fond of quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which summarises our universal beliefs and doctrine. NB, no “Rome” in the title.

          • Martin

            Terry

            I’m telling you that the churches that submit to the rule of Rome and accept its doctrine are dead. Rome has not had the gospel for over a thousand years, that was what the Reformation was about, leaving the schismatic church for Christ’s Church.

          • Terry Mushroom

            I see myriads of Protestant Churches disagreeing about the fundamentals.

          • Martin

            Terry

            I don’t see Christian churches disagreeing on the fundamentals. There are some who claim to be Protestant who are as dead as the adherents of Rome.

        • Dominic Stockford

          You RCs stabbing each other in the back as well then! What a surprise. Oh no, NOT a surprise.

          • Terry Mushroom

            Corinth had its share of squabbles!

            Disedifying though it is, Our Lord said the wheat and tares would grow together until the end of time.

    • Little Black Censored

      Thanks for sharing.

  • bluedog

    ‘…a ruthless will-to-power that will not brook a different value system.’

    To see the absolute truth of these words from Dr Ashenden one need look no further than the remarkable twitter exchange between HG and Dr Percy. At no point does Dr Percy mention anything to do with Christianity. It is indeed all to do with power.

    • Merchantman

      Under orders from ‘control’ whose ‘Spirit of the Times’ leaves little room for maneuver.

    • Anton

      Perhaps His Grace will give less publicity to the views of Percy now. After all he (Percy) is just another apostate liberal.

  • Holger

    I didn’t know they’d started brewing their communion wine from sour grapes in the evangelical wing of CofE.

    The best response to losing a battle is always to flounce off and sulk in a corner, isn’t it?

    All Anglican reactionaries should follow Ashenden’s lead and start their own bitter and tremulous breakaway church. Like Gafcon and ACNA, it’s raison d’être will have little to do with god and a lot to do with denouncing the church they’ve just left. A community of believers founded on outrage, anger, hatred and wounded feelings.

    What better recipe for decline and fall?

    • bluedog

      But GAFCON grows and embodies traditional Anglican beliefs. The progressives of the CoE with their secular Christianity are confronting contraction in numbers of congregants. Where then, is the decline and fall? At what point is the secular CoE all chiefs and no Indians? Who do they blame then?

      • Holger

        Gafcon grows in the 3rd World where levels of education are low and superstition is rife. Every now and again it benefits from schism when a rump of fundamentalists in a developed country splits from its former church and joins Gafcon’s ranks. But there is no numerical growth in Christianity in the West. And as the South becomes better educated, it will go exactly the same way.

        And yes, once the liberal Western churches rid themselves of their unwanted fundamentalist members, they also fade away. Slowly, as Christianity blurs into a vague kind of spirituality, and from there into agnosticism and functional atheism.

        It’s all going exactly to plan. In a generation or two there’ll be no more recognisable Church in the West. It won’t take that much longer to disappear elsewhere. Standards of living are rising all over the world. No more poverty means no more need for religion. The days of superstition are numbered.

        • Anton

          Given that you called the Brexit vote wrong, this post of yours gives me comfort.

          • Holger

            I was mistaken about the outcome of the Brexit referendum, but not the Irish equal marriage vote. Voices on this blog were united in proclaiming that, if consulted, the public would never agree to equal marriage. They were wrong.

            By all means take whatever comfort you like from my inaccurate reading of the Brexit outcome. But guessing the outcome of a referendum is not the same as predicting an overall trend. When virtually every development over the last 75 years has undermined the Church’s position, we can say that history is flowing in one direction and that firmly established currents only change direction as a result of cataclysmic events.

            Short of the second coming, there isn’t much that can save your Church. The tide it’s endeavouring to push against is just too strong. As the chances of an imaginary god suddenly materialising among us are slim to none, I’m confident enough in my prediction of decline and fall.

          • CliveM

            “Voices on this blog were united in proclaiming that, if consulted, the public would never agree to equal marriage”

            As a statement of what was said, that is simply a lie.

    • len

      Now that the liberal wing have come out flying their true colours action can be taken…better your enemy in front than behind?(no pun intended)

      • Holger

        Considering they’ve outflanked and outmanoeuvred you in just about every disagreement over the past 60 years, it seems odd to me that you weren’t sure they were evil liberals before. Does being an arch-reactionary also mean being unfeasibly naive?

        In any case, let the battle begin. If the Church breaks in two over this, so much the better. Two halves generally fade away much more quickly than a whole. If however against the odds you manage to stay together, then continuing in-fighting will eventually destroy you from within. Either way the Church is doomed. Either way secular forces win.

        All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the spectacle. And gloat…

        • Navarth

          The power of religion is that it offers hope; the hope of continuation. That is why religion has persisted since time immemorial. It is why religion will always remain. I recommend you read Solzhenitsyn or the life of Valeriu Gafencu. The Orthodox Church survived the secular Soviet persecution.

          • Holger

            Religion offers false hope. That is why education eradicates it.

            Teach people about the realities of life and they leave fairy stories behind them. It’s called growing up. Oppress them in a cruel and despotic system and they’ll grasp at any straw.

            Christianity’s comeback in Russia is based on ignorance and fear. When people are not stupid and not scared, they rarely turn to imaginary gods.

          • Anton

            Imaginary gods? The real God will do.

          • betteroffoutofit

            Yes. And, as you and I well know, education was not only saved by Christians in the West (esp. Ireland and England)– it flourished and developed because of them. Something to do with the Word, and Truth, in there, I know.

            Since that foundation has weakened … we are beset by words bandied about, twisted, misused, and degraded … by “materialists” ! Of course they can’t deal with words; they won’t even acknowledge the existence of Spirit within themselves, let alone tackle the abstractions involved in thought!!! Of course we can make no progress by “fighting” them with their own weapons, and on their own ground– I suspect +North may have recognised that. He probably also saw the need to avoid further intra-mural conflict in an area infiltrated and colonised by the Enemy’s other cohort.

            No wonder our unsurpassed civilisation has progressed well into the Darkest of Ages (ever).

          • William Lewis

            One would expect a decline in belief in imaginary gods and fairies. But why Hasn’t Economic Growth Killed Religion?

          • carl jacobs

            Atheism can only survive if it never comes into contact with the implications of what it teaches. Fashionable angst over the meaninglessness of life is all well and good when you have the liberty and the money to indulge your desires – especially when atheism justifies the moral freedom to enjoy it as you wish.

            Let him once stand with Job and see what he says. He will not even have a god to curse. Only a pitiless blackness that takes no notice of him.

    • William Lewis

      “A community of believers founded on outrage, anger, hatred and wounded feelings.”

      *Chuckles*

      • Holger

        Yes, it is funny, isn’t it? All that talk about love and all the hatred they really feel make for some farcical situations.

        Ever been to a General Synod? People move laterally with their backs to the wall to avoid being stabbed in the back by their loving “brothers in Christ”, or so I’m told.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Have you not been reading the posts of others here? There is general agreement that many of those there are not in fact Christian at all. Just as I would protect my back from you, so also I would protect it from them….

    • Inspector General

      “The best response to losing a battle is always to flounce off and sulk in a corner, isn’t it?”

      You missed out deleting all your posts and changing your name…

      • carl jacobs

        Ouch! I think we can safely say that counterpunch resulted in a standing eight-count.

      • Holger

        Who me?

        You must be thinking of someone else.

        Perhaps that person, for whom I cannot of course speak, just got bored with you and decided you were no longer worth bothering with. And then perhaps he changed his mind because you’re so easy to whip up into a gibbering frenzy of hatred that you serve a useful purpose by illustrating just how evil and hateful Christians can be.

        Valuable lessons can be learned from even the worst and most twisted bigot. See, you do have a purpose in life after all.

        • Inspector General

          You silly old sod. Do you really think that a malcontent like you lending your support to the progressives will surprise and delight? Get stuck in and find out…

          • Holger

            Malcontent? Me?

            And here am I expresslng how happy I am to see the CofE tearing itself to pieces before our eyes!

            That’s not malcontentment. It’s glee. Or perhaps Schadenfreude would be a better description. But either way, I’m extremely content with the current situation, so you’ll need to find a better word to describe me.

            And yes, I know for a fact that my comments here are read and appreciated. I don’t claim to wield any great influence, but every little bit helps.

          • Inspector General

            Oh, do continue posting. We need you here. We cannot know good unless bad is around. Keep posting right until the day you breath your last, and as you’re lying there, a demonic hand rises from the floor and pulls your soul down with it. And you will be gone.

          • carl jacobs

            That isn’t something to revel in, you know. That is something to dread. For any man. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God for He is just and He will fulfill the requirements of justice.

            Look to yourself before you glory in the judgment of another.

          • Inspector General

            Yes, what we have in the Almighty is the God of Good and the God of Bad. The Inspector has always been a God fearing man for that reason. He loves us, yes, to a limit which Linus known as Holger has exceeded. That is how it is.

          • carl jacobs

            There are no good men. Only God is good. Relative to the standard by which God judges, there is no discernable difference between Linus and you or Linus and any other man.

            Linus is a blind fool. If he dies a blind fool then he will suffer the fate of a blind fool. If you call yourself good you are as blind as he is. We are all of us the same – you, me, Linus. We all share the same characteristic of sin. You make a grave error if you look at Linus and say “Surely he proves that I am accepted of God for I am not like him.” Oh, yes you are. We all are.

            Or perhaps it would be more correct to say “He is just like us.” For this Christ came and for this Christ died. Not because we are good, but because He is good. God proved His for love for us in that while were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

            There is nothing else.

          • Inspector General

            Almighty God is not only a salvager of souls, but a renderer of them too. We are gifted as men to know where whom is headed where. To be frank, to suggest this man before you is no better than Linus in the eyes of God is against what Christ told us. That there is the Kingdom of Heaven available but not for all. It is our choice, here and now. Christ did not die for all. Remember that.

        • Evil … Hateful … Bigot … Twisted … Gibbering … If only you’d have included “Homophobic” somewhere in that response I’d have scored a full-house in “Liberal Regressives Bingo”

    • ChaucerChronicle

      I was wondering why so much venom courses through your veins; you have been traumatised by other homosexuals:

      http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/

  • IrishNeanderthal

    For this, I turned to the Online Etymology Dictionary, and found this:

    1715, from Gaelic uisge beatha “whisky,” literally “water of life,” from Old Irish uisce “water” (from PIE *ud-skio-, from root *wed– (1) “water, wet;” see water (n.1)) + bethu “life” (from PIE *gwi-wo-tut-, suffixed form of *gwi-wo-, from root *gweie- (1) “to live;” see bio-).

    According to Barnhart, the Gaelic is probably a loan-translation of Medieval Latin aqua vitae, which had been applied to intoxicating drinks since early 14c. (compare French eau de vie “brandy”). Other early spellings in English include usquebea (1706) and iskie bae (1580s). In Ireland and Scotland obtained from malt; in the U.S. commonly made from corn or rye. Spelling distinction between Scotch whisky and Irish and American whiskey is a 19c. innovation. Whisky sour is recorded from 1889.

  • dannybhoy

    I think devout Christians of whatever background and who believe in the Body of Christ should be earnestly praying for Gavin Ashenden and others, that they would seek the Lord’s will and be willing to play the part our Lord gives them with integrity and humility.
    I think we shall soon see a parting of the ways.
    It won’t be a cause for rejoicing, because it will have a profound effect on the fabric and running of our society. It will open up the way for another force to flood in and take up the vacated positions. It may lead to persecution and ostracisation (rather like the circumstances endured by the Christian Church in the Middle East), but that’s the price we may be required to pay in standing up for our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Inspector General

    There you are Hannah. The Inspector grants you a full pardon. An honour few receive, on this site at least.

    Toodle pip!

  • Plasterer

    Wee bit of proof reading for you, hope some else hasn’t already done this (it was quicker to jot this down than read all the comments!).

    Para 10: Their aim seemed +to be?+ to manage their own pain…

    Para 11: collapse onto the sand of this -a- compromise

    Para 21: just as capable as men -are- of

    Para 27: There is discomfort (on: over, about?) the objective truth

    Paragraph numbers are approximate..

  • ‘Since it has become clear that orthodox Christians will not be allowed the privilege of following their consciences, living out biblical paradigms and challenging the secular culture from within the Church of England, they will either have to adopt a separate orthodox jurisdiction of their own, or leave. The jury is out on which the faithful will choose.’

    Praise the Lord! At last someone senior(ish) in the C of E has called it like it is. There is no future for Bible-believing Christians within the C of E unless they retreat into the shadows, keep quiet and cease to rock the progressive boat. Rev’d Ashenden sets out the other two possibilities.
    .
    In Cornwall, a small church in the United Reformed denomination (actually not united and certainly not Reformed) has decided to leave and become an independent evangelical church. Its reasons for leaving the URC are pretty much the same as those facing the C of E: a takeover of power by the liberals and a downgrade in doctrine and practice. These people will have to leave their church building and hire a hall somewhere, but they are by no means discouraged for they ‘esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt’ (Hebrews 11:26). A church is not bricks and mortar, but living stones, ‘built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone’ (Ephesians 2:19-22). These Cornish Christians are shaming you Anglicans who are hanging onto your buildings and your privileges by remaining in a denomination that has become a ‘synagogue of Satan.’
    .
    ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached up to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities’ (Revelation 18:4-5).

    • layreader

      I have no idea where this Cornish church is, but they are only following a course that many other churches followed when the URC was formed from the Presbyterian and Congregational churches in 1972. The church that was supposed to be united actually splintered and to this day, 45 years later, there remain many independent Congregational churches still in the buildings they have always owned. In 1972, they could see the liberal writing on the wall, and wanted none of it, and many of them have thrived, in contrast to the mainstream URC which has declined from about 250,000 in 1972 to 65,000 now.

      • Indeed.
        As I understand it, for a short period after 1972, churches could depart the URC and keep their buildings. Now, however, departing churches must leave their churches, bank accounts and anything else behind when they leave.
        .
        However, that was then and this is now. I know of one other church in South West England in a mixed denomination that is likely to leave it this year, but many more are needed. Where are the men of courage and principle within the Church of England who will say, “Enough is enough!” and come out of that apostate organization regardless of the cost and be the start of a new Reformation 500 years after the first?

        • layreader

          I wonder about the legality of the URC hanging onto buildings it didn’t pay for, and money it didn’t raise. The US Episcopal church has the same problem, of course, and has spent the last 20 years spending money it hasn’t got in court defending this (frankly) ridiculous notion.
          However, when it comes to the C of E, people tell me the situation is different. A church could walk out of the C of E simply by refusing to pay its quota, and shouldering all its own financial responsibilities, such as paying the Vicar. Many of them can easily afford to do this, and have done so in the past, but never on a scale that causes revolution. Thus, conservative churches end up funding liberal ones. Perhaps it is time for some financial reorganisation in the C of E.

          • Steve

            Actually, layreader, I don’t think this is correct. Parish churches (the buildings, that is) are regarded as the property of the parish, and are vested in the incumbent for as long as s/he holds office; and indeed the incumbent is appointed to the cure of souls in the parish, with rights and duties concerning the church building.
            A church can refuse to pay its quota, certainly, but either the incumbent retains the cure of souls – in which case he holds the building in trust and is both entitled and required to hold services in it, and to carry out all the other required duties of a parish priest – or s/he does not, in which case the diocese has control, and will appoint a new incumbent (or unite the cure with another or whatever) and cover the services in the meantime.
            There was blood on the carpet a few years ago in Tunbridge Wells, where the then vicar of St Barnabas’ decided to join the Ordinariate (which he was entitled to do), but thought that as he was taking a majority (allegedly) of his congregation with him he was entitled to keep the building. He was not; once he had resigned as the Church of England vicar of the benefice, the building reverted to the Diocese of Rochester, who proceeded as a diocese is always required to do when there is a vacancy, and in due course a new priest was appointed to the cure of souls in the parish.

          • Well, there is a large church in Cardiff which in the 1960s left the Presbyterian Church of Wales to become independent. As I recall they changed the locks on the doors, mounted a guard, and eventually the PCW gave up and let then keep the building.

  • Steve

    I have a lot of time for Gavin Ashenden and greatly appreciate what he writes; and normally you wouldn’t find me anywhere near taking Martyn Percy’s part against his. However, in this instance…..

    I have never met Philip North, but am more than happy to go along with the universal verdict that he is a true man of God. But consider this:

    Bishop North is a convinced Anglo-Catholic, who believes that the most important thing that vicars do in the course of their ministry is to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass – sorry, celebrate the Holy Communion. He also believes – and this is of course the core matter of objections to his taking up a diocesan bishopric – that women CANNOT be priests, whatever rites or ceremonies they have undergone; that when they celebrate the Holy Communion according to the authorised rites of the Church of England, nothing happens – the Mass isn’t offered, the Eucharist isn’t celebrated, “it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat” (choose whichever terminology you prefer), and it’s effectively a fraud on the worshipping community because the whole thing is bogus.

    If you were a vicar in the Church of England who was faced with the prospect of the arrival of a new diocesan bishop in your diocese who believed your ministry was bogus, wouldn’t you be a bit annoyed about it?

    If Bishop North simply believed that the C of E had done the wrong thing in ordaining women as priests, there wouldn’t be a problem; but that isn’t how it is. Those who have taken refuge under the wings of “The Society” are to all intents and purposes saying to the rest of the C of E, in effect, “We’re valid – you’re not”, and are now dishing out so-called “Letters of Welcome” which amount to certificates of validity. This isn’t about disagreement any more.

    • ChaucerChronicle

      When a Christian church, such as the Church of England, ordains priestesses it is no longer a Christian church. It becomes a pre-Christian ‘church’.

      It was the pre-Christian nature religions that had priestesses.

      • Steve

        If Philip North agreed with you, I presume he’d have left the Church of England.