Church of England

The Reformation 500 years on: do we need 95 New Theses for the 21st century?

‘Protestants’ acquired their name because they were first and foremost, protesters. They publicly declared their dissent. In the expressing of dissent from and rejection of prevailing mores, they understood themselves to be testifying to older, deeper truths. 2017 commemorates the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 theses – his protest against abuses that were rife in the church of his age. He hammered his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg – such doors serving as the town and church noticeboards of his time.

And so with apologies to Martin Luther (1483-1546), we offer 95 New Theses – now hammered on to today’s ‘virtual noticeboard’ – and a protest against the debilitation of the church. These are offered with gratitude to Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson (The Pastor as Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision, Zondervan, 2015), and Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, (The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, Baker Academic, 2015). The new Theses published here also pick up on my earlier article in Modern Believing (Vol. 55, iss. 3, 2014: ‘Growth and Management in the Church of England: Some Comments’).

In these simple protests and proclamations, we express a humble hope for the Church of England: that the church will begin to recover some nerve, and somehow find the heart and mind to recover a simple 2,000 year old tradition. Namely, for our bishops to return to their primary vocation: being teachers and pastors of the flock, rather than missional-managers.

The Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy
Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.
2nd January 2017

THE 95 NEW THESES

  1. The most important role for our bishops is to mediate the wisdom and compassion of God: to be teachers and pastors, after the example of Christ himself, no less.
  2. The church is in danger of exchanging its birthright for a mess of secular pottage in the place where one might least expect this: the episcopacy.
  3. Bishops, together with the churches and communities they serve, are too often held captive by models of leadership (e.g., managers, therapists) drawn from contemporary culture rather than Scripture.
  4. The church needs bishops who can be theologians, and contextualize the Word of God, so congregations can be begin to reflect theologically on their lives and work today.
  5. Many bishops and ministers today do not share this vision. They see themselves as missional target-setters, motivational practitioners and middle-managers, presiding over a dysfunctional organization that needs reform. The history and tradition of the church does not recognize this vision for episcopacy, and it should refuse it.
  6. The Bishop as a preeminent pastor-theologian is a particular kind of generalist: one who specializes in viewing all of life from the perspective of what God was, is and will do in Jesus Christ.
  7. A note to mission-minded managers regarding their metrics: Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted, counts (Einstein). Parish churches are named (often after saints). They are not numbers (on a pie-chart set within a ‘dashboard’). Naming implies identity and a personality for each church.  Numbers reduce congregations to anonymous units.
  8. Bishops are meant to be, primarily, teachers and pastors of the flock; not managers and ecclesiastical bureaucrats. The chair or throne is the symbol of their teaching; the towel (from Maundy Thursday) and pastoral staff a symbol of their care. Good teachers and great carers are all we ask for: others can manage.
  9. Our church today has cut itself adrift from traditional models of episcopacy and replaced them with management-led officers in an organisational structure. But as two commentators from The Economist, Adrian Aldridge and John Micklethwait note (see The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary idea, 2003, p. 11): ‘(these) managers have always fancied themselves in the officer class’.  Indeed they have, and in the church, they are now running the show.
  10. If we command through intimidation, we may create followers. But if we lead through gentle strength we will build good leaders.
  11. The office of bishop has been exchanged for a bowl of lentil stew (Gen. 25: 29-34); the birthright of the vocation has been sold for management skills, strategic plans, ‘leadership’ courses, therapeutic techniques, motivational talks, strap-lines and glib mottos.
  12. Congregations should not expect their bishops to have MBA’s. But congregations do have every right to expect at least two things from their bishops: outstanding theological teaching, as well deep, compassionate pastoral care. It is not too much to ask.
  13. We need a paradigm shift if we are to rescue the church from the ‘domestication of transcendence’ that the (doubtless) well-meaning ecclesiastical managers are unwisely promoting. In their desire to bring order and organisation to the church, the managers continually make the Holy Spirit redundant: Processes replace the Paraclete; ‘corporate-speak’ usurps the Counsellor, who leads us in to all truth.
  14. We were always hungry for the truth that sets us free: we did not sign up for this to be replaced by any formulae that bring results. No matter how much the managers tell us the results are worthy and good, and can also set us free. This is untrue.
  15. When managers ban theology from their processes – for fear of being bored or out-narrated – we know we need a New Reformation.
  16. To save the soul of the church, bishops need to return to having a love of theology. Not just a nodding acquaintance with a bright few ideas.
  17. To find our new episcopal teachers and pastors, we need processes of wilful spiritual discernment that are rooted and grounded in theology, and not in the latest HR fashions drawn from contemporary management theory.
  18. A note to the church from the Buddha? “Wake up”.
  19. The dis-location of theology to the academy, and away from the church, together with the separation between biblical studies and doctrinal theology, serves neither academy nor church.
  20. A joke from the church of the future: A couple who are tourists on a weekend break are looking around at an English cathedral in the late-twenty-first century. One says, ‘Look darling, they seem to have buried two people in this grave’. ‘Why do you say that?’, comes the reply.  ‘Because the gravestone says, “here lies a Bishop and a Theologian”.  They must be different people, because the vocations and roles are quite separate.  But how strange that they shared the same name…’.  Enough said.
  21. Bishops are theologians whose vocation is to seek, speak, and show understanding of what God is doing in Christ for the sake of the world, and to lead others to do the same.
  22. Bishops have a special vocation as public theologians, because they work for, with, and on people – the gathered assembly of the faithful, and wider society – and enable them to live to God, bearing witness as a public body in the public square.
  23. Bishops must exercise special vigilance in their ministries, taking care not to make their episcopal chair in theology (sometimes referred to as a ‘throne’), or their lectern, into a ‘bully pulpit’ that might magnify their own role, instead of, or even alongside that of God’s.
  24. Bishops are not unique in building others up into Christ; all Christians share this privilege and responsibility. But bishops do have a special role – being put into the position of overseeing this building project.
  25. The bishop-theologian is an organic intellectual within the body of Christ; a person with evangelical intelligence who is “wise unto salvation”.
  26. As an ‘organic intellectual’ (so part of Christ’s body), the bishop-theologian articulates the faith, hope, and love of the believing community on the community’s behalf and for its up-building.
  27. The office of bishop (and theologian), are not recent innovations, or an executive position. The roles have their ancestry in the leadership offices of ancient Israel: prophets, priests, judges and rulers.
  28. The office of pastor was commissioned by Jesus: it continues Jesus’s ministry as the good shepherd of the new covenant community, and as someone who embodies wisdom, inspired by the Spirit. Bishops are a particular embodiment of this ministry.
  29. Without theological vision, the people perish. Managers can help implement such vision. But it is not the task of managers to set out the vision for the people, and proclaim their strategy and tactics as some kind of gospel or missional blueprint.  That is not the good news.
  30. Doctrine is vital for the life of the church. Bishops need to know it, guard it and teach it. Bishops who cannot teach faithfully and ably are failing in one of their core callings.  Today, few bishops seem to live out this vocation in their ministry.
  31. Bishops, like priests, represent God to humanity (especially regarding the requirements for holiness; directing the people to God’s gracious provision in Christ Jesus to save us from our ongoing sins, etc.); and humanity to God (offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and the prayers of the people in intercessions).
  32. William H. Willimon: ‘Contemporary ministry has (become) the victim…of images of leadership that are borrowed not from scripture, but from the surrounding culture – the pastor as CEO, as psychotherapeutic guru, or as political agitator’ (The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry, 2002, p. 55). Quite so.
  33. Bishops, when they are good pastor-theologians, like prophets, exercise a ministry of truth-telling: primarily (but not exclusively) with words, communicating a “God’s-eye point of view”, especially concerning the truth that is to be found in Christ Jesus.
  34. Bishops, when they are good pastor-theologians, can be like the good kings of ancient Israel. They personify God’s cruciform wisdom and righteousness through humble obedience to God’s Word, thereby modelling what citizenship in heaven might look like on earth.
  35. Bishops from previous eras of church history uniformly understood their vocation in theological terms; and most of the best theologians in the history of the church were also fine pastors and bishops. What’s gone wrong here? How is it we have ended up with a church that believes theology is for specialists, rather than the means of teaching the essential truths of faith?
  36. A test: ask yourself and answer, hand-on-heart and honestly, if you can name three currently serving bishops you would happily queue to hear them lecturing or teaching, standing in line outside the venue on the street where they are speaking, on a cold wet winter night, waiting for the lecture to start? OK, I might have set the bar too high; so name just one bishop you’d do this for. Just one. Still struggling? Many will.  How did we come to this?
  37. The church urgently needs to come to some self-understanding: how did we lose this vision of bishops as teachers? Where did the arrogance of this ‘Age-of-the-Manager’ come from, that tells us we can do without theology and bishops-as-theologians? (NB: The Green Report on proposed new methods for choosing senior leaders from a ‘Talent Pool’ barely mentioned God.  But a lot of words were devoted to faddish designs and management theories).  What can be done to put this right?
  38. Bishops in the early church used the ancient rules of faith to provide the parameters for understanding the theological realities that are part and parcel of the Christian life.
  39. At some points in the life of the early church, bishops were not only pastors of local churches, but also overseers of much broader regions and territories – thereby showing that theology was never meant to be a ‘formula’ for merely running the church and its mission. Rather, theology and episcopal ministry is about the shaping of the whole of society.
  40. So we need bishops who understand the theology and imperative of the Kingdom of God – a holistic vision for humanity, communities and creation.
  41. Bishops are pastor-theologians responsible for representing the unity of the church, defending the true faith, and opposing error.
  42. Bishops should be intellectuals who know how to relate Big Truths to real people in real times and in real places.
  43. In the early twentieth century, many modern pastors began to see their vocation as a kind of ‘helping profession’. In so doing, there was a loss of interest in theology, since the new preoccupation was with learning practical skills that would ensure success (i.e., results). The managers actively supported this trajectory, and do so today.
  44. The early twenty-first century is now seeing the beginnings of a remnant that seeks to recover the historic vision of the episcopacy as a pastoral and a theological office. (Finally, someone has remembered that doctrine might be quite important; and that teaching, caring and wisdom, might be some of the main reasons people have for coming to church in the first place…).
  45. We need bishops who can grapple with the intellectual challenges of the day. And care more deeply for their people than seems humanly possible. To show forth the compassion and wisdom of Christ in their lives and ministries.
  46. The bishop is the chief pastor-theologian who deals with death and dying, and the anxiety of mortality in general, by administering the reality of the good news of the gospel, and by personally embodying, in contextually sensitive ways, the joyful news of resurrection.
  47. This is halfway point of the 95 New Theses. So what of selecting bishops? The process needs a theological point of origin, rationale and shape.  The whole process needs to be theological, not rooted in executive managerialism. True, General Synod votes for a voting system. But the detail of the current process is designed and implemented by HR managers, and entirely their creature. The process involves an interview for each candidate, barely lasting an hour.  (Most parishes would not pick a Vicar like this – but we only give candidates for Diocesan Bishops around 60 minutes to be interviewed).

     
    The Standard-Transferable-Vote system advocated by the HR managers has been shaped and adopted in a way that is gender-biased: those who consistently vote ‘abstain’ against any female candidate for episcopacy are counted as ‘against’, making it almost impossible for any woman to secure a two-thirds majority of voters.

    Choosing bishops should be a rich and profound process of spiritual discernment, saturated in wisdom, seeking and finding the very best teacher and the very best pastor for the people and places she or he will serve, and someone who can contribute to the healthful sustaining and renewal of the national church, wider catholic Communion, and society at large.

    If Human Resources and the ecclesiastical managers are allowed to shape the procedures, however, the process will invariably culminate in a quite different result.  Effectively, a bland, safe compromise, with no scope for bravery.  So, those specifically charged with or elected to choose bishops in the Church of England should actively resist the “iron cage” of corporate managerialism imposed on procedures, and instead seek to fashion a process that is primarily one of spiritual discernment, mindful of the primary roles of a bishop (i.e., teacher, pastor, reconciler and focus of catholic unity), and mindful of the criteria set out by Paul in his letter to Timothy (I Tim. 3: 1-8).

  48. Stated simply, the calling of the bishop is to help congregations and communities become what they are called to be. It is not to impose a blueprint from ‘mission control’ or to issue command-and-control directives from diocesan central office. Bishops are there for enabling and empowering churches to become what they are called to be in every locality, and to help inspire the Word Made Flesh to become a reality in every place.
  49. The People of God is that public place where Christ is remembered, celebrated and revealed. Bishops exist to help oversee this vocation. They lead their people in prayer to that very end.
  50. Bishops are to embody an “evangelical mood” in a “catholic spirit”, thereby making that indicative declaration – faithfully announcing “He is risen! He is Lord!” – such that when it is to be attuned to the world, also proclaims that the world can be made new in Jesus Christ.
  51. The distinctive task of the bishop is to say, on the basis of the Scriptures, what was, is, and will be “in Christ”.
  52. Theology is the knowledge of how to live in the presence of God. Bishops are called to help us awaken us to such knowledge. Being a good theologian is not an optional extra for the office of a bishop; it is a prerequisite.
  53. The bishops of the church are suffering from theological anaemia. Everyone knows that ordinary anaemia is caused by deficiencies in the diet, leading to weak blood, specifically caused by the lack of iron. Supplements can combat the condition.  The analogy hardly needs spelling out further.
  54. There are no bad foods; only bad diets. If the church doesn’t feed off the nourishment of theology, the deficiencies will manifest themselves in the overall well-being of our communities of faith. This is why bishops are called to be wise theological teachers; and caring, compassionate pastors.  Theology is supposed to be in the blood of the church, not an optional supplement.
  55. The office of bishop is charged with providing the essential food for the body of Christ that nourishes its soul, limbs and inner life. This might feature on the (highly debatable) HR-Manager’s ‘desirable’ list; but for the church, it is a non-negotiable ‘essential’.
  56. Bishops set forth in speech what is in Christ, and are ultimately engaged in a ministry of reality: that is, in administering the truth of what is – the truth about God, humanity, and the relationship between them.
  57. Bishops are meant to be public intellectuals who filter and framework of the biblical story of God’s work of redemption – one that culminates in the startling resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
  58. Bishops devote themselves to the privilege of studying, interpreting, and ministering an understanding of God’s Word to others; for Scripture alone is the divinely authorized account of what God is doing in Christ to reconcile humanity and renew creation.
  59. Bishops endeavour to help increase the biblical literacy of their congregations and churches, particularly by giving attention to biblical theology and the challenge of understanding the unity of the biblical story – of Christ’s very presence in the diversity of biblical books, persons, and events.
  60. Bishops, as our chief pastor-theologians, should also endeavour to increase social, political and cultural literacy in each of their congregations, knowing that is ultimately a means of spiritual formation that shapes our values, beliefs and behaviours.
  61. So, bishops should help their churches to read the ‘signs of the times’, so that the gospel may be sounded faithfully and afresh in each new generation.
  62. Shaped by the past, the office of bishop today still has a special vocation to help the church shape our future world. Such is the Kingdom of God.
  63. The bishop is a Student of the Church. It is their rightful business to become “exegetes of the congregations” given over to their care.
  64. Equally, churches are students of bishops: those called to episcopal ministry need to listen attentively to what the churches might be saying to them about their local situations, and how bishops might respond to the urgencies, opportunities and tasks of the local mission and ministry.
  65. Managers mostly make safe choices; they are inherently risk-aversive. So interesting, creative, ‘wild card’ bishops are not easily imaginable as long as the ecclesiastical managers continue to rule the church.
  66. The bishop works with theologians – across traditions – so as to help uncover ‘the hidden purposes of God’ and ‘deep mysteries’ of the gospel of salvation.
  67. Bishops, as preeminent pastor-theologians, speak in the imperative as well as the indicative, exhorting their congregations not only to say but also to conform to the new eschatological reality that is available to us in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit.
  68. Seminaries exist to foster biblical and theological literacy for the sake of understanding and living out what it is to follow Christ today, and how to ‘be’ the church. So bishops have a special responsibility: to guard our seminaries as treasures and resources for the whole church.
  69. Seminaries exist not to reinforce, but rather to transcend the typical compartmentalization of “biblical,” “systematic,” and “practical” theology for the sake of interdisciplinary pastoral-theological wisdom. Just as seminaries do this, so do we expect bishops, as our chief pastor-theologians, to be modelling this in their teaching ministries.
  70. The practices of the bishop as pastor-theologian are rooted in their own union with Christ, and involve communicating what it is to be in Christ.
  71. The Great Pastoral Commission is Christ’s charge to bishops and pastors to be public theologians who work with people on God’s behalf; workers who feed Christ’s sheep and build God’s house.
  72. Jesus is the master builder who will build his church on the rock of confessors and confessions. Bishops, as chief pastor-theologians play a special (i.e., set-apart) role in serving as authorized representatives of Jesus, charged with preserving the integrity of the church’s confessions.
  73. The bishop, as a chief pastor-theologian, is a builder of God’s house, and a labourer on God’s site; a mason who works with living stones, joining them together with the cornerstone (Jesus Christ) in order to form a dwelling place on earth for God: a temple made of redeemed people, for all God’s people.
  74. The church does not need leaders with MBA’s. It needs leaders who understand that as overseers and stewards of the ‘household of God’, their role is more like that of a parent with adult children. Bishops are “fathers and mothers in God” for precisely this reason.  They are presiding as the head of an institution (much like the head of a family); the office of bishop is not like being a CEO or leader of an organisation.
  75. The church exists to glorify God and to follow Jesus Christ, not to pursue its own agenda on numerical growth. Faithfulness to the Gospel must always be put before the search for success. These truths are obscured by the Church of England’s valuing of managerial skills and growth targets over prophetic vision and gentle pastoral care.
  76. The current process for selecting diocesan bishops highlights this failing – and is geared up to the evisceration of truly creative theological leadership. We need more emphasis on wisdom and depth, and less on growth and management. We will need an entirely New Reformation if we are to correct our course.
  77. Evelyn Underhill, writing to Archbishop Lang on the eve of the 1930 Lambeth Conference, reminded him that the world was not especially hungry for what the church was immediately preoccupied with. Underhill put it sharply in her letter: ‘may it please your Grace […] I desire to humbly suggest that the interesting thing about religion is God; and the people are hungry for God’. Bishops need to be able to feed us, not manage us.
  78. The recent emphasis on numerical church growth in the Church of England – borne largely out of fear, and not faith – has led to the unbalanced ascendancy of mission-minded middle managers. It is hard to imagine a Michael Ramsey, William Temple or Edward King receiving preferment in the current climate. The managers would say they don’t tick the right boxes.
  79. If all leaders must now make obeisance before the altar of numerical church growth, we will erode our character and mute our mission. The veneration of growth squeezes out the space for broader gifts in leadership that can nourish the church and engage the world.
  80. As with all things Anglican, it is a question of balance. No one can or should say that an emphasis on numerical church growth is wrong. But a continued over-emphasis on numbers simply skews the identity and ethos of the body, and our composition. The issue is one of proportion and stability, and the weight and measure of our polity as faithful Anglicans.
  81. This is a more subtle problem than it might at first appear. It was said of the late Cardinal Basil Hume that ‘he had the gift of being able to talk to the English about God without making them wish they were somewhere else’.
  82. The value of this gift should not be underestimated. And for our national mission, this is precisely why we need a leadership that incorporates space for the holy and devout; the gentle pastor; the poet and the prophet; the teacher and theologian; and possibly a radical or two for good measure. The church may not always draw near to such leaders. But the nation often does – especially those who don’t normally go to church.
  83. For the first time since the Reformation, we now have no bishops who have held a university post in theology. This is no small scandal. The nation may not notice this problem, but it will certainly sense the lack of intellectual leadership. So for the sake of national mission, and our credibility as a public church, we may want to intentionally develop a broader range of leaders than the very singular objective of numerical church growth and organisational management currently budgets for.
  84. By replacing older vocational processes for discerning diocesan bishops with a newer set of managerial procedures, there is a sense of subduing the work of the Spirit – of managing the transcendence of God.
  85. The new breed of ecclesiastical executive managers probably never intended this. But in their relentless pursuit of control, compliance and consistency, the result of managerial hegemony is nearly always the same: predictability. The casualties are obvious: theological prescience and perceptiveness, both effectively eviscerated from the episcopacy. We need these back where they belong – in the episcopacy.
  86. Some may ask, at this point, why doesn’t the current leadership of the church do something about all of this? The answer is simple: our current leadership is, largely, management-led – and a product of these processes.
  87. It becomes hard to avoid a form of ecclesial narcolepsy if we have unintentionally muted theologians who have the necessary vision and urgency to cause the church to awaken. The revolutionary patience that someone like Ched Myers speaks of (see Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus, 1970), or the loyal dissent advocated by Gerald Arbuckle (see Refounding the Church: Dissent for Leadership, 1993), can lose their place and value within a managerially shaped ecclesial body.
  88. The possibility of radical theology – from the Latin, radix, meaning ‘root’ (and that gets to the heart of a matter) – is quickly subsumed in cultures and agendas of conformity, management and productivity. Indeed, as we read the parable of the sower (Mt. 13: 1-9), we are now finding that the forces of management and growth, weed-like, ‘choke’ the rarer border plants that contribute differently and richly to our fields of ecclesial life and vitality.
  89. Leadership, it is often said, is doing the right thing; and management is all about doing things right. The church needs both, of course. But it is arguably not unfair to say that the church of the post-war years has moved from being over-led and under-managed, to being over-managed and theologically under-led.
  90. Bishops are agents of renewal and reconciliation through their counsel, personal visitations, teaching and preaching. Pastoral care and teaching lie at the core of the role.
  91. These days, many can find the average bishop’s sermons a rather glib, anodyne and underwhelming business. Yet the sermon is a crucial instrument in bishop’s “arsenal” of the ‘grace, mercy and peace’ that any bishop proclaims to each and every congregation, parish and household of faith that they visit. The sermon is the space and place for truth to be spoken, thereby fostering biblical literacy, biblical-theological competence, and a holistic appreciation of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the body that meets in the name of Christ.  Sermons are vehicles for teaching, and symbolise the role of the bishop as a primary theologian in parishes and dioceses.
  92. Sermons are also a means of fostering a congregation’s ability to interpret culture; recognize, engage and critique the powers of our age, and understand the way particular texts and trends either contribute to or hinder the realization of God’s mission. The sermon is one of the ways the bishop can awaken people to the redemptive reality of what God is doing in Christ in the world, despite what culture, politics and society might try to tell us.
  93. Bishops must explicitly reclaim the role of Catechist – as set out in the Pastoral Epistles – teaching doctrine for the sake of enabling people to better understand and conform to the reality of following Christ today. Bishops administer sound doctrine to the body of Christ for the sake of its health, flourishing, and growing up into maturity in Christ.
  94. Bishops function as public apologists, in the public square, when they defend the foolishness of the cross and the truth of the gospel, and so facilitate and enable lived corporate demonstrations of faith’s endurance – and of the love, forgiveness and communion that is to be found in Christ.
  95. To conclude, the primary calling for our bishops is to mediate the wisdom and compassion of God: to be truly good teachers and pastors, after the example of Christ himself, no less. Being a bishop is not an ecclesiastical ‘job’. It is, rather, an ‘occupation’.  Bishops are to be occupied with God (for which they need theology and spirituality); and then to be occupied with what they think might preoccupy God’s heart and mind – the cares and concerns Christ has for our broken world and its needy people (and so engage in pastoral care).  Thus occupied, a bishop might then be said to be doing the ‘job’ the church believed and discerned that they were actually called to do.
  • Andrew Price

    Wow! A prize to anyone who got to the end. Try nailing that to a church door.

    • Anton

      The later theses might stop the draught!

  • Andrew Holt

    I would queue to listen to Tom Wright, round the block and round the clock if necessary, though I do believe he may no longer be a bishop. I read the whole thing and claim my prize. Food for thought. Thankyou.

    • Martin

      Andrew

      I think Tom Wright is unreliable, he says some good things but a great many bad things. Tying him down seems to be like nailing jelly to the wall.

    • John

      Tom Wright used to be my bishop. Great guy, exceptional theological mind, prophetic voice, brilliant communicator and passionate preacher – but hardly ever around. Lecture tours (often abroad) on the new perspective on Paul or some new book project were where his heart really was – and the diocese felt orphaned for much of the year. His new role in academia is what he is best suited to.

    • Andrew Price

      About the prize er, well, erm….

  • Anton

    Was Percy railing against managementspeak in the church before Welby, or is Welby his unnamed target?

    In any case the deeper problem is liberal theology, which they seem to have in common.

  • Maltravers2011

    This is good stuff but I don’t think Luther would have got very far had he used this rather turgid jargon. I’ve just returned from Thuringia and the Lutherhaus in Eisenach where he went to school. There, as in many places in Germany associated with Luther, they stress his importance as a theologian and ‘protestant’ but also warn about his theology which stoked antisemitic feeling across Europe and was used by the Nazis to justify the holocaust. He was also very misogynistic. A lot that led from his 95 theses was not good. This said, the writer of these modern theses has made some important points but I’m not sure the ills of the C of E will be cured by bishops

  • Anton

    Two great anniversaries come this year of 2017: the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Give thanks!

    • Plus, on 13th May it will be 100 years since the Blessed Virgin first appeared at Fatima, Portugal. Now that’s an anniversary worth celebrating.

      • len

        Not.

      • Anton

        Odd that, in an era when movie cameras could already follow men over the top of the trenches, and many tens of thousands of people had gathered to witness a miracle predicted well in advance, there is no moving film of the miracle of the sun that is said to have happened that day.

      • Martin

        HJ

        Fairy story told by little girls and heretics.

      • John

        I almost forgot. I’ll have to put it in my diary to light a candle!

    • 1642again

      In my Providential moments I sometimes wonder whether the Liberation of Jerusalem by Allenby in 1917 was the Providential culmination of the British Empire. Only Divine Providence can explain the rise of Britain to world encircling greatness in every sphere from such an inauspicious start and then its swift decline.

      • Anton

        I am in no doubt that God used the British Empire for two purposes: spreading the gospel worldwide, and overseeing the return of the Jews to their eternally-promised land. Not that either of those was the Empire’s human purpose.

        The English Puritans were the first modern Christians to understand that God intended the Jews to return to the Holy Land, and to my knowledge they were the only mass movement to take that view. For the early phase of this movement, read the book Albion and Ariel by Douglas Culver. After the eclipse of the Puritans in England following the Restoration, this view survived and flowed into the wider British evangelical movement (also in the USA); see chapter 7 of Barbara Tuchman’s book Bible and Sword written about Anglo-Jewish relations, which runs up to the Balfour Declaration.

        • 1642again

          Thanks for that. All new to me, but pretty obvious if you’re a Christian.

          • Anton

            The Puritans have a bad name today, but in their time they were the people most committed to diligence, family life and honest dealing, and the more radical ones supported freedom of religious conscience, free trade and the abolition of monopolies, and one-man-one-vote. Their views came out of the most concentrated Bible study the world has known: thousands of men, chosen for their zeal and with extended time for study and discussion away from their families, in Cromwell’s paid New Model Army. Which might be obvious to you given your avatar!

          • 1642again

            Read Fire from Heaven by David Underdown -the story of Puritan Dorchester. It explains much about them.

          • Anton

            Will do; thank you. I’ve read his book Start Of Play about the early history of cricket.

        • 1642again

          Another good book is Soldier Sahibs by Charles Allen about the men, largely evangelicals, who built the Raj. Arguably the greatest clutch of military men and governors this country produced in a single generation.

          • Manfarang

            And the East India Company?
            ‘The East India Company and Religion, 1698-1858
            Penelope Carson’

        • Manfarang

          God’s an Englishman, the British are descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of the ancient Israelites and the Queen is descended from the House of David.

          • Anton

            God used the Roman Empire to spread the gospel round the Mediterranean even though that was never the Empire’s human purpose. Why do you contemptuously suppose that the spread of the gospel worldwide within the British Empire, and the return of the Jews to their eternally-promised land via the Balfour Declaration, were not God’s purpose? Before you again assume that I am a jingoistic English triumphalist, please tell me what you understand by my sentence “Not that either of those was the Empire’s human purpose” written above.

            No doubt there are cranks who believe the other things you wrote but I am not one of them.

          • Manfarang

            Christianity reached India long before the British according to legend by the disciple Thomas. In fact Christianity can be considered one of the religions of India although today they still remain very much a minority. (Mrs Maneka Sanjay Ghandi was a little sarcastic to a group of us when an Indian pastor mentioned the Seventh Day Adventist Church in India- all three of them she said)
            Some of the Jews had also moved to same part of India as the Assyrians.
            The Balfour Declaration promised a home for the Jews ( not a state) in Palestine. There are some devout Jews who on religious grounds do not believe in Israel as a state.
            For the record I support Israel because of the way minorities are treated in Arab countries but I would leave the West Bank to the local Arabs and make the Negev desert bloom.
            There was another Jewish state set up in Siberia.

          • Anton

            Yes, I’m familiar with the tale of the Church of the East and the early spread of Christianity eastward far beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire. I learnt it from Philip Jenkins’s fine book The lost history of Christianity. But I referred to the worldwide spread of Christianity via the British Empire; forgive me if I suggest that India is one country, if a large and populous one, and that it had very few Christians indeed before the Raj.

            The Balfour Declaration was followed by the San Remo declaration, then by the League of Nations Mandate: on 24th July 1922 the then 51 members of the League of Nations passed unanimously a resolution which opened by referring to Article 22 of the League’s Covenant. The preamble then included the statement that

            recognition has… been given to the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.

            Article 2 of the resolution stated that

            The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home… and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of the inhabitants of Palestine, regardless of race and religion.

            Article 6 charged the Mandatory power (specified as Britain in the Mandate’s preamble) with promoting Jewish migration to Palestine:

            The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage…close settlement by Jews on the land…

            Article 7 stated that

            The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

            The San Remo declaration was unilateral by the victorious powers, but the League resolution was a formal assent to San Remo’s content by many nations.

            The Mandatory resolution is apparently vague about two issues: does ‘national home’ mean an independent nation state; and does ‘in Palestine’ mean ‘in part of Palestine’ or ‘in all of Palestine’? Under the British Mandate all land west of the River Jordan was open to Jews and under the Transjordan Memorandum Transjordan was not a land to which Jewish immigration would be facilitated. The obvious inference is that all of Palestine was intended as the Jewish national home.

            Did the Mandatory resolution imply a Jewish State? Article 22 of the League’s Covenant, invoked in its opening sentence, advocates the oversight of a mandatory power “until such time as they are able to stand alone,” referring at this point to the inhabitants of Palestine. What was ultimately implied was therefore a single independent State that functioned as a Jewish national home. That is the operational definition of a “Jewish State,” although the British probably did not foresee it not being part of their Empire. Meanwhile, the Mandate charged Britain with facilitating a national home for the Jews and with safeguarding the civil and religious rights of the Arabs living there (Article 2), ensuring also that the ‘rights and position’ of these Arabs were not prejudiced (Article 6). What does ‘rights and position’ mean here? Article 4 stipulated that An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine. Obviously the Mandatory power would liaise informally with Arabs under its governance, but there was no requirement in the resolution for political liaison with them. ‘Rights’ therefore refer here to civil and religious rights rather than political rights, consistent with the Balfour and San Remo declarations; while ‘position’ cannot mean the continuation of the Arabs as the only significant ethnic group in Palestine, for the resolution was about a national home for the Jews. The Arabs had not, moreover, had self-determination under the Turks, against whose rule they willingly rebelled.

            The Jews who believe that they are not entitled to a State in the Holy Land are following a tradition that grew up during their lengthy exile that their Messiah would have to appear and lead them in. There is no such claim in their scriptures.

            It is the coming of the Jews which has made the Holy Land blossom.

          • Manfarang

            Today’s India has about 2% of its population who are Christians, Thailand which was never colonized has 1.2%.
            Gunboats are not the best advert for Christianity. All foreign missionaries were thrown out of mainland China in 1951.Todays mainland government is becoming increasing suspicious of the Christian Churches again making them demolish crosses on the roofs of church buildings.

          • Anton

            Couldn’t agree more. The testimony of today’s Chinese Christians is that the church in China with its ghastly imported denominationalism was forced to be self-reliant under Mao’s persecution, and when the persecution eased what we saw was a lively house church movement centred round the Bible.

        • Martin

          Albion and Ariel @ £119.74 on Amazon.

          • Anton

            You can get a 2nd hand copy for less than 100 US dollars via bookfinder.com which is less than I have had to pay for some theoretical physics books! Clearly I was lucky in paying only about 30 pounds for a 2nd hand copy of Culver a few years ago; the 2nd hand market is quite volatile.

          • Martin

            Anton

            $100 is more than I’d be tempted at. Free on Kindle is more my line. 😉

      • Merchantman

        This very thing has been on my heart over the Christmas period. Prompted by a photo of Allenby walking rather than riding into Jerusalem for humilities sake. This photo with Allenby’s signature is out on the Web.

      • bluedog

        The role of Britain was replaced by that of the United States, as a matter of US policy. If God was an Englishman, is he now an American? Does the full spectrum dominance of the US reflect Divine Providence? What if the Risen China replaces the US, would that be a reflection of Divine Providence?

        • 1642again

          Depends if they serve His purposes. The US certainly took the evangelical baton from Britain., but dropped it much sooner. A rapidly Christianising China could be a great boon. Britain achieved extraordinary things, things out of all proportion to its resources. There are secular reasons for this, but the particular blend of these causes that combined may well have a fuller explanation.

  • David Waters

    Abolishing all Anglican bishops – incompetent, pompous and undemocratic that they are – would be a good opening move.

    • Anton

      Liberal bishops take a salary from churches for providing oversight while actually sowing doubt. They are traitors and parasites on the body of Christ. This situation could not happen if congregation leaders were paid by their congregations rather than via a liberalised hierarchy, because people would not pay to be ministered doubt. I expect that Satan regards these senior liberals as ‘useful idiots’. Certainly they use the same phrase as him – “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1).

      • 1642again

        Great comment Anton. We fund our own betrayers.

        • Anton

          Thank you. I tried to imagine what the apostle Paul would have written about them.

          • Martin

            Anton

            I think Philippians 3:2 would give the general idea.

          • Manfarang

            Dogs? Irish Terriers

      • David

        Totally agree. Like our contributions to the EU we pay others to destroy us. The impostors, the doubters should be sacked. Affirm the full faith, as it is written, or GO !

    • Maalaistollo

      I have to say that I’ve never seen the point of any of the structures above parish level, other than to sustain themselves by means of the common fund and to lecture the parishioners on the need to give more, to the same end.

  • maigemu

    I think Luther had a message for the catholic church though directed to the Catholic one. This blogs post is sadly totally episcopal-centric. Where is the message for the rest of us who have continued in our Commonwealth heritage of no bishops – except in the biblical sense where episkopos is synonymous with presbuteros?

  • 39…theology and episcopal ministry is about the shaping of the whole of society

    Britain is fast becoming a society with no interest in being shaped by the church, through the growth of non-Christian religions and the unaffiliated. It is difficult to see how even the most outstanding bishop-theologians could reverse that trend. They could conceivably claw back some of the unaffiliated but, as Britain’s non-Christian religions hold that Christianity is in error, the bishops’ theology would fall on implacably stony ground.

    There would be some cause for hope if the church would confess that, by encouraging mass immigration, diversity and multiculturalism, it had helped to bring about the decline of Christianity. Quite the opposite, though: the church continues to cut its own throat by merrily preaching the marvels of diversity. Thanks to the churches, Western Christianity has become Christ-insanity.

    • David

      We are not beaten that easily !
      But I agree that admitting the errors you list, would be a good place to start out from again.

      • @ David—If the churches were to start out again by standing up for Christianity and the English they would be accused of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. If they continue their love affair with diversity, thus neatly sidestepping the accusations, they betray Christianity and the English. As the churches are terrified of being called names, betrayal is their preferred option.

        • David

          You are merely stating the obvious, and seemingly accepting of it.
          I am saying that they should change, become bolder and then, risking persecution, they’d soon attract strong interest from many of the disadvantaged of our society and many middle class types who have a strong attachment to western culture, based on Christianity.

          I think that strong Christians should be able to endure the howls of the snobbish secularists, who will soon find that their voices have to compete with other louder, fairer voices – this is exactly the same process as the country is progressing through with the referendum vote.
          Nothing is gained by retreat !

          • 1642again

            Atheists are increasingly alarmed by Islam and more are coming to realise that maintaining the UK as an established Christian country is their best protection.

          • David

            Yes, some years ago I noticed a change of tone from that arch-atheist Dawkins, when he started recalling his schoolboy days in his school’s chapel in warmer tones, and described himself as a “Christian atheist”. It is deeply ironical that having attacked us with ferocity, blind to the rising threat of Islam, a deeply intolerant belief system, the brighter ones have finally grasped the fact that we, with our voluntary faith are by far the better bet.

  • len

    These 95 Theses will be of little interest to anyone I suspect, except a few intellectuals.
    The original temptation was “Did God really say?” and from that time onward man himself decided what was ‘truth’ and what was’ not’.Compromise began killing the church and destroying its testimony.
    Compromise is still killing the church and the same satanic lie is functioning today centuries after its conception.
    A Church cannot function as God intended if it does not uphold the Word of God ,Christ Himself.
    So what the Church needs to do is to get back to the Truth as revealed in the Word of God.

  • Martin

    What a waste of space. What Christ’s Church need is not the hierarchy invented by Rome but what is laid down for us in the Bible. Each local church should have a group of men, godly and capable of ruling that local church, as elders and overseers. Those men should be able to teach God’s people from God’s word. They should not be prancing around in fancy dress, pontificating on the acts of the government. Nor should they striving to keep in God’s Church those who have no understanding of the gospel, however high they might be in the hierarchy.

    • Trouble is the government has gagged the Church.

      • Anton

        You can’t gag a church that is willing to be persecuted.

      • Dominic Stockford

        It hasn’t gagged mine.

      • Martin

        Marie

        Sadly the church has gagged the church.

      • Andrew Price

        Not gagged my church.

  • 1642again

    I started out reading this with great hope but ended thinking what a waste. It’s obsessed with the episcopate and theological education, points that are irrelevant to the vast majority of Christians who quite rightly have the simple faith of children as Jesus desired. Most theology is speculation about matters indifferent (adiaphora) and causes argument and division, and brings the faith into disrepute because the average person thinks, “Well if they can’t agree on that among themselves why should I bother?”

    I’ve made my (very good) living joining struggling or failed companies to turn them round and make them successful. I’ve a MBA and, like theology, it makes a few common sense principles into a complex and abstract discipline of some, but only some, use.

    The church doesn’t need 95 theses, just a few, nailing to the foreheads of the Bishops. My view:

    1. The church is introverted, as are most of the clergy, and struggle to talk to those who are not regular congregants. I know one vicar who shakes with fear when talking to anyone who isn’t a churchwarden. It needs a heavy dose of extroversion and should prioritise the recruitment of extroverts.

    2. The church needs to recognise that Britain is now no longer a Christian country but will be again if it does the right things because if it is true to the Word of Christ no power can withstand it. All too often its leadership seem bereft of confidence in the soundness of its message and publicly doubting leaders destroy their own followers’ conviction.

    3. Parish churches and clergy are the front line. No withdrawals because local Christians drift away and Christianity’s presence is made invisible without them. Sacrifice everything central to bolster the presence on the ground. I did this at a very large bankrupt retail business, putting resources liberated from the centre into the front line. In three years we were voted by our peers the best in sector from being a laughing stock.

    4. Leadership and management are different things. It strikes me that the church has little effective of either. Leaders have courage and conviction. Ours precious little of either and people have little respect for them as a consequence. It’s little surprise that it is the two third world Bishops in the recent church (Sentamu and Nazir-Ali) who have won some respect outside the church because they have suffered and spoken out unapologetically for Christianity – they are authentic unlike most of the rest.

    5. Defend traditional COE dogma and belief based on the 39 Articles. Clergy who won’t or who seek to overturn them should be sacked, as should others who are not sufficiently competent. Such are leaches on the faithfulness and generosity of the the faithful. Homosexuality without repentance should be condemned, as should adultery and other modern preoccupations. Such people should not be be clergy or even churchwardens.

    6. Don’t aim to be popular, aim to be respected for your courage and consistency. Criticism from the powerful means you’re making an impact and doing the right things.

    7. Don’t align with any secular ideology – take them all on and speak truth to power based on the Word of Christ. They are all failures and as passing as blossom.

    8. Speak out on the Islamification of the West and on the lethal dangers posed by multiculturalism. There are huge numbers of conservatively minded people out there who feel betrayed by the Church which they believe should be defending them and our civilisation. No one else is and it represents a huge gap in the market for Christianity to re-engage with matters about which people are really concerned.

    9. Focus on making CoE schools more thoroughly Christian, set up Christian sports clubs etc. Learn from the re-evangelisation of Britain by the Wesleys etc in the 18th and 19th centuries. Get out there. Social media is a huge opportunity as it bypasses the secularised monopolies of mass communication, but to be noticed the message needs to be punchy and to upset the right people

    10. Teach quite clearly that the only salvation is in Christ, and not by works, or charity or being nice. Too many clergy are tainted with universalism, which raises the question – why make the sacrifices of being a Christian if it makes no difference. Teach what the alternative to salvation is.

    11. The clergy need to be equipped to argue against atheism on secular grounds. There’s enough articulate philosophers and scientists out there who believe in God and Christ on evidential grounds to do this. I’m amazed how few clergy seem able to make the arguments. When one does, those of Dawkins etc are rapidly stripped of the impression that they are the only logical world view.

    12. Revitalise the monastic tradition in this country so that they become the strongholds of the uncompromised faith as they were in the days of the early church.

    Christianity is not there to sort out the problems of this world, only God can do that. Our job is to help as many people as possible to find freedom and salvation in him.

    In summary, confront, don’t concede or apoligise for what we are, but do so rationally and calmly. Don’t expect to win them all, just one soul to start is an invaluable achievement.

    • Bless you for your thoughtful and intelligent response.

      • 1642again

        I am flattered Your Grace.

        It’s just so obvious what the problems are and what needs to be done, but then I spent much of my career wondering how people let companies get into the messes I ended up having to help sort out.

        • Peasant Farmer

          Excellent response, not being a cradle Anglican and currently attending a very low church i’m unsure as to what reestablishing Monasteries would achieve?

          • 1642again

            Read up about what the early monasteries were to the spread of the faith, especially the Celtic Church. We need them back.

          • David

            Totally agree. I have a huge regard for their rugged, physical brand of faith. As you probably know, the Celtic monasteries produced the bishops. In the Orthodox Church even today it is from the monasteries that Bishops are selected. Ordinary clergy may marry between becoming deacons and later being ordained. It is a good system as they have survived no end of persecutions, even the 70 years of the demonic Soviet Socialists.

          • Anton

            After the communist revolution the Russian Orthodox church was repudiated by the State. Did it draw on the apostolic era or was it hamstrung by its traditions as a State religion? Its priests were pressed to pass on information about Christians to the secret police. A few refused, but 80-85% of priests collaborated, including the entire hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox church. Advancement depended on cooperation. (See The Mitrokhin Archive, chapter 28, The penetration and persecution of the Soviet churches.)

          • 1642again

            I’m a big fan of the system.

          • Anton

            During which 80-85% of Russian Orthodox priests collaborated, including the entire hierarchy – for advancement depended on cooperation (see The Mitrokhin Archive, chapter 28, The penetration and persecution of the Soviet churches).

          • Caldey Island needs more Cistercian monks.
            http://www.caldey-island.co.uk/monks.htm

          • David

            My brother, who farms on the mainland, handles their livestock needs. Without grazing animals the vegetation becomes unmanageable.

          • Martin

            Marie

            Perhaps we could send all those with episcopal tendencies there that they might not trouble those who cling to a biblical order.

          • Anton

            When you find them in the New Testament, let’s re-establish them.

          • Peasant Farmer

            Blogs and Twitter weren’t found in the New Testament, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for the spread of the Gospel.

            What I doubt is that Monastic communities would have the same impact today as they did 1000 years ago.

          • Anton

            Christians are to be in the world but not of the world. Walling yourself off prevents the former. In a full Christian life, your prayer informs your deeds in the world, and the world brings you matters for prayer. Monastic life lacks this dialectic and cannot be a full Christian life.

          • 1642again

            I think you’d be surprised to find that much of the work of the monks was serving the local community.

          • Anton

            Vice-versa. Monastic lands were extensive – which is why Henry VIII coveted them – and the monks got the rent from the peasants living on those lands.

          • David

            Who is talking about “walling yourself off”?
            Monks and nuns often work tirelessly in the outside world. Some orders even live completely in the world, without a monastery.

            Perhaps the future monasteries would contain married couples and family units, singles and all sorts of businesses and enterprises run along Christian lines ? I would hope that they would be ecumenical, or at least multi-denominational.

            Is your response based on a formula that says,
            Monasteries = RC = Not Protestant = Undesirable ?

            In our search for new ways for Christianity to thrive in our post-modern age, we need to use a formula like,

            Historical success + recognition of current culture + Spirit Led imagination now = New Paths Forward To God.

            Why not try out new ideas to discover what works !

          • 1642again

            Exactly David.

          • Martin

            David

            Actually we need to use the formula: what saith the Scriptures.

          • David

            Absolutely !
            But I am not a Puritan who says that we cannot use that which is NOT written in the Scriptures. For are we to only travel by donkey or horse, communicate only by foot – courier and sail boat, or refuse modern medicine ?
            Of course NOT ! What rubbish. We can also learn from successful models of the past, after the canon of the Bible was largely fixed, such as the Desert Fathers, the monastic system and so on.
            But be an Amish if you wish, that’s one way to live a goody life.

          • Martin

            David

            The model is simple, we are to proclaim by whatever means we can, travel to proclaim by whatever means we can, but what we are to proclaim is fixed:

            O sweet exchange! O inconceivable accomplishment! O benefits beyond any expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hidden in a single Righteous One, and that the righteousness of One would justify many transgressors!

            We may not permit sin to flourish, we may not permit the world to enter our worship, we may not permit the worlds methods to be our methods.

          • Anton

            Somewhere in this thread I’ve explained exactly what my objections to monasticism are. But in a bit more detail, you cannot convert others, or make the world a better place, if you isolate yourself. In those efforts the Christian also makes himself a better disciple; we are to tackle the evil in ourselves and in the world together. Jesus was explicit that we are sent into the world but are not of the world (John 17:16-18). When Paul advocated that men stay single to serve God (1 Cor 7), he did not call them to withdraw from the world into a single-sex community. Paul engaged intensely with the world, and held himself up as a model (1 Cor 7:8). Your deeds inform your prayer, and your prayer for the world informs your deeds in the world. A monastic life of prayer without deeds is not a full Christian life: to grow, faith needs practical testing. Jesus often went alone to the desert to pray, but he always came back, to do. He did not found a monastic community, and he never suggested that his disciples should.

          • David

            Who is talking about closed orders ? Not me. There are many different forms, for example the Celtic forms focussed on mission and evangelism.

          • Anton

            And that is a lot better, I agree. But it is not how the early church spread like wildfire, is it?

          • David

            You are confusing different periods I suspect.
            If by “early” you mean the primitive, first and second generation church, then yes it was spread like wildfire by individuals and small groups along the Roman trade routes, sometimes fleeing persecution.
            But I am talking about a much later period when the monasteries became both “arks” carrying not just the faith, but western culture, forward into less dangerous periods; moreover from those monasteries the Christian message was spread. The Celtic Church was particularly effective at evangelism, operating from monasteries.

          • Anton

            I’m not confusing them in my head, although I should perhaps have written wit greater specificity. Actually I’m contrasting them!

          • Sarky

            Haven’t you pretty much walled yourselves off anyway?? Not in a physical sense, but many Christians just mix with other Christians and have no real contact with people outside of their ‘church’ circle.

          • Anton

            Nonsense Sarky; most Christians I know have secular jobs in which they interact with other people all of the time.

          • Plasterer

            Doesn’t imply they are comfortable talking about their faith though.

          • Anton

            Some are, some aren’t; I was simply rebutting Sarky’s point.

          • Sarky

            Obviously. But how many talk about their faith?? I work with two people who I know are Christians, but they have never mentioned it, even on long night shifts.

          • Anton

            So how do you know that they are Christians?

            If you had been subjected to sermons on night shifts I think you might be making the opposite complaint! Remember St Francis’ words: “Preach at all times and if necessary, use words.”

          • Sarky

            Common knowledge. They didn’t tell me.

          • David

            I am too am a very Low Anglican, conservative theologically and Bible led, and therefore do not easily support monasticism. But I can see through my readings of the history of the western, Latin Church, that the Monastic movement was hugely instrumental in saving the west.

            Speaking very generally, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, whilst the kings, knights and soldiers fought against the invasions from the north (Vikings), the south (Islam) and the east (a motley bunch) it was the monasteries that acted as storehouses, powerhouses or western culture and knowledge, as well as charity and care. Without the monasteries we would have survived, but in ignorance, and therefore would have lost the knowledge that later helped us prosper, through applying knowledge.

          • Anton

            The monasteries stored the view of Christianity that was prevailing shortly before the ‘Dark Ages’. By that time, a century after Constantine, the church had been thoroughly politicised, ie made a covenant with this world. I agree that the monasteries were crucial to the re-establishing of a Europe-wide culture that is still recognisable today, but that is not the same thing. The church flourished under persecution for its first 300 years, and under dreadful persecution a generation ago under Mao; it can take anything that the world throws at it from the outside, but it may crumble under attack from within. That is why the apostle Paul was so deeply concerned to keep it clean. Had Christians not retreated into monasteries, history would have been very different. Christians should by faith believe it would have been better, too, although we cannot be more specific.

          • 1642again

            Read about the early Egyptian Fathers and the early Celtic church. Sure they became corrupted but were frequently renewed. Whence came Colombanus, Columba, Iltud, David, Cuthbert, Aidan and the tens of thousand of others who converted most of barbarian Europe?

            Not every thing the Catholic and Orthodox churches did or do is wrong, most is sound. Learn from others.

          • David

            Again, spot on !
            1642again, please read my comments to Anton directly above, asking for a wider, “helicopter” view of monasticism, so as to allow opportunities to emerge, grow and be exploited.

            You are right. The petty inter-denominational point scoring that is characteristic of this blog is not edifying. In fact it is downright off-putting.

          • 1642again

            It’s shocking. I’d go as far as to say it’s evidence of the Enemy at work.

            Your first point is entirely fair and deserves an uptick!

          • Pubcrawler

            Amen to that.

          • chefofsinners

            Typical low Anglican comment. (JOKING)

          • David

            Perhaps you helicopter is only drone high !
            ….continues the “heightist” joke..

          • Cressida de Nova

            No he’s not !

          • Anton

            What makes you think I haven’t read about them or heard of the Celtic mission? The desert fathers are those who fled persecution (and their families?) but then made hanging around in the desert a profession.

            I am glad of all faith in Christ, however weak or strong, that there is in anybody. Hut, as I said, Christians are meant to be in the world but not of the world. Had those in monasteries lived out their faith in the world, it would have been a better place than it turned out to be. Any Christian should accept that assertion by faith, even if the counterfactual details are unknowable.

          • 1642again

            The inspiration of the Desert Fathers gave to others was enormous. Huge crowds came out into the Desert to hear them and study with them.

            If a Christian soul is called to study, prayer or seclusion I will not condemn it because God’s gifts are many and varied, as are his callings. The work of the early, and even later, hermits and monks/nuns was of value in study, prayer, serving and inspiring others. To condemn them is to condemn the working of the Holy Spirit in individuals called to serve in the way best for them. There is not one narrow model.

            I have to say that you, and Martin even more, and some others on here need to reflect on what you have been saying as you come across as narrow prigs with 100% certainty that your view is the only view. When Oliver Cromwell gave freedom of conscience to the sects they drove him mad by immediately demanding that other sects be suppressed. I think he was speaking of people of your spirit.

            I am not a cradle Anglican but one of choice. I have sen doctrinally sound well run churches encompass Anglicans, Catholics and non-conformists of many flavours happily because it is both catholic, protestant and evangelical, has structure and regularity, but flexibility and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit.

            No human institution can be perfect but, if restored, Anglicanism can be a wonderful ecumenical home for all Trinitarian believers. The True Church exists in all forms and denominations. Please try to remember that and respect others who dwell in other traditions as being genuine Christians too.

          • Anton

            I do regret that you’ve gone personal. That generally happens when somebody starts losing an argument. I attack monasticism on scriptural grounds. Jesus was explicit that we are sent into the world but are not of the world (John 17:16-18). When Paul advocated that men stay single to serve God (1 Cor 7), he did not call them to withdraw from the world into a single-sex community. Paul engaged intensely with the world, and held himself up as a model (1 Cor 7:8). Your deeds inform your prayer, and your prayer for the world informs your deeds in the world. A monastic life of prayer without deeds is not a full Christian life: to grow, faith needs practical testing. Jesus often went alone to the desert to pray, but he always came back, to do. He did not found a monastic community and he never suggested that his disciples should.

            If you want to advocate monasticism on the grounds of its fruits, please note that Christianity spread like wildfire through Europe without any monasteries and is doing the same in China today.

            I am not suggesting (and have not suggested) that all monks are spongers with no personal faith. God works through any faith in Christ held by anybody. We are both committed Christians. Let’s discuss the issues without getting personal.

          • 1642again

            I have explained my reasons. The impression conveyed by regular commentators on here is appalling with constant nit picking and telling others their traditions are invalid, gloating over misfortunes of others etc. It is fundamentally unChristian.

            I am in no way losing an argument because you can’t argue with those whose ears are blocked. I wrote an ecumenical piece in my response to the article comprising twelve points, something which the proprietor commented favourably on and has received much support from the quiet majority on here.

            Of those twelve points one, a minor speculation, has received aggressive comment from some of the regular commentators who have not stopped to ask why I suggest it or comment on my other eleven theses. It’s just so typical of those who seen themselves primarily as the ‘pure’ holders of the ‘truth’ and as denominational warriors first and foremost. They are people whose sense of personal identity is wrapped up entirely within a factious label and simply can’t handle someone whose thoughts cross the boundaries they themselves have set.

            I challenge myself every day about my manifold failings as a Christian and try to be open minded about other views on matters adiaphora. I am a human, I do not have the whole truth, just a search for a little more of it than I possess today. Do you?

            Do you really follow the absolute practices on the early church? Do you hold all your possessions in common? Do you live as a lily in the field? Do you really believe that nothing of value for the faith and for the service of mankind has been developed since the New Testament was written?

          • Plasterer

            Quiet majority chipping in here to say that I think you should call it a day on trying to convince.

            Your point was well made, I don’t think most people would interpret it as you advocating a return to a copy-paste of the worse caricature of whatever was happening hundreds of years ago. Even the most fanatical monastic isn’t advocating for the whole of Christian society to shut themselves up in celibate contemplation.

            One body, many members. Maybe monasteries are like bones, with bone marrow inside generating white blood cells for the whole body?

            Anton and Martin have either got the wrong end of the stick, or are being deliberately obtuse, or just can’t let go of their bone 🙂

          • 1642again

            Thanks Plasterer. You’re right of course, as is your analogy of monasteries with bones.

            Just sometimes though someone needs to point out to people the impression they are making on others and their delusional levels of self-righteousness which imperil their souls.

          • Anton

            You can’t know if you are part of the quiet majority. The nub of it is this: Jesus was explicit that we are sent into the world but are not of the world (John 17:16-18). When Paul advocated that men stay single to serve God (1 Cor 7), he did not call them to withdraw from the world into a single-sex community. Paul engaged intensely with the world, and held himself up as a model (1 Cor 7:8). Your deeds inform your prayer, and your prayer for the world informs your deeds in the world. A monastic life of prayer without deeds is not a full Christian life: to grow, faith needs practical testing. Jesus often went alone to the desert to pray, but he always came back, to do. He did not found a monastic community and he never suggested that his disciples should.

            I should be glad to see anybody engage with those arguments. It needn’t become personal.

          • Plasterer

            True, but 1642again and David are currently marginally ahead in votes 🙂

            Having just advised 1642again to stop, it would be ironic of me to try, but I’m not above a bit of inconsistency!

            I think I understand your take on this, but where I differ is that I’m not sure that it is ‘safe’ to see Jesus or Paul as restrictive examples, as opposed to positive ones. In their different ways they were ‘special cases’: the challenge is obviously to work out which bits were specific to them, which bits are applicable to others, which bits are applicable to everybody, always and everywhere. Paul worked to pay his way, does that preclude all full-time ministry? Should everyone be writing epistles to wayward churches to bring them into line?

            As to your second point, I take it you’ve never lived in a close community for any length of time. Your faith can get plenty of testing living with testy people!

            You seem to see things in very black and white terms, but they aren’t. There is a sliding scale from “out in the world, hardly ever prays at all” all the way to “prays all day and never goes out to work in the world”. I can’t say I’m particularly comfortable with either extreme, but neither would I presume to say exactly where the limits are.

            I recommend the documentary Into Great Silence, which is both uncomfortable and fascinating. I honestly couldn’t see myself going into such a shut off world, but who’s to say that someone in one of these places, after a life of study and meditation, might not just write something at just the right time, which could bolster, save, or inflame the faith of thousands?

          • Anton

            Thank you for a genuine response.

            As a research physicist I am well aware of the merits of solitude and silence for hours at a time; you can’t think without these. And I have lived in a Cambridge college, which is quite a close community, and enjoyed it.

            What you seem to me to be saying is that there are part-time monastics. I’d say that that means they are only partly wasting their time! It is the institution that I am against, as I’ve sought to explain. We are to be in the world, but we need to withdraw to be alone with God from time to time, as Christ himself did.

          • Plasterer

            This just in, may interest readers on this part of this thread:
            http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/70851

            “However, Dorothea Wendebourg shows that, despite his strong criticisms of the cloistered religious life, Luther continued to believe there was a place for monasticism.
            His strong criticisms, which culminated in his treatise Judgment on the
            Monastic Vows (1521), were rooted in the sad state of the institutions
            of his day, not in their original purposes, which he hoped would be
            renewed.”

          • 1642again

            Well said.

          • Anton

            I upticked that 12-point comment and various others of yours, and will probably do so again given that we have a good deal in common. But you made a discussion about monasteries personal, and I’m not inclined to answer questions asked out of personal pique.

          • 1642again

            I’m not attacking you personally Anton as I don’t know you from Adam, but just pointing out the overall impression you and others (some are far worse) are making on here by your narrowly focused comments. There needs to be much less ‘motes and beams’ on this web-site to convey the positive difference the faith can make to individuals. One simply can’t go around saying that others’ faith is less because they believe that post New Testament developments can be beneficial or that on balance monasteries produced a lot of good as well as some bad and might today have a role in restoring the intellectual ascendancy of the faith.

          • Anton

            I’m in no doubt that it was a personal attack, even if you widened it to include others. I don’t think you are summarising what I said accurately, either, but I’m happy to let good relations recommence.

          • David

            Do not let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

            The fact remains that without the monastic system there would not have been a Christian tradition to hand on, which could then later be reformed.

            The monastery of the 21st century need not follow exactly the same pattern as before. In Northumberland the “Northumberland Community” is struggling to find new, and here’s the exciting bit – ecumenical – ways of bringing together Christians of many different traditions, who all love Christ, trusting to Him for salvation, to work out new ways of creating “lifeboats” for Christianity. The Spirit blows where it wills and our job is to listen to what The Spirit is saying to us today. Providing we are guided by Scripture, what works long term is good.

          • Martin

            David

            The tradition is the problem and ecumenical too often means lowest common denominator.

          • David

            Prove that with evidence !
            Ecumenical may represent a way to heal through uniting around the few things that are important – the Truth revealed in the Scriptures.
            Many denominations have accumulated so many mere man-made accretions, smothering the truth below, and instead fixating on human traditions in a godless pharisaical fashion. That was the precise problem Luther faced. I preached on that last Sunday emphasising that it was not a ritual, like circumcision that counted (Romans 4 : 9 -12) but our faith, that places us in right relationship with God.
            Our division is just what the Enemy wants. It is a scandal.

          • Martin

            David

            There is no need to heal when the healing is of a rift between the godly and the world. That rift must be there, placing father against son and mother against daughter.Rome departed from the faith, others have done so since, the righteous should leave them to their own devices.

          • Anton

            You can say “The fact remains…” as often as you like, but you can’t know how history would have panned out if the people who lived out their faith in monasteries had done what Christ said and lived it out in the world. What you can know by faith is that things would have been better if Christ had been obeyed.

          • David

            What you have said is ridiculous. Who are you to say that these people were not following the call of Christ ? I suggest you study how the monasteries worked. Yes many became corrupt in the late medieval period, as do all eventually institutions, becoming in need of renewal. But until that late decay they did excellent work, in many different forms.
            Many were very open giving charity to the poor, nursing to the sick and above all maintaining knowledge, which would otherwise have been lost, dispersed, and all set within a pattern of Christian devotion and prayer. Don’t just work off a single conception of “monasteries”, as there were many. It was from the Celtic monasteries that much of Europe and especially the British Isles were evangelised.

          • Anton

            The monasteries were able to dole out charity because they had rental income from large amounts of land – rent that came from impoverished peasants. That land is what Henry VIII coveted. I’m not impressed by monastic charity that hands back to impoverished people part of what it has earlier taken from them.

          • David

            You make the mistake of judging past periods using contemporary ideas. The crucial point is that, by the standards of the time, monasteries were centres of welfare.

          • Anton

            I’m judging monasteries by the eternal standards of the Bible. Jesus was explicit that we are sent into the world but are not of the world (John 17:16-18). When Paul advocated that men stay single to serve God (1 Cor 7), he did not call them to withdraw from the world into a single-sex community. Paul engaged intensely with the world, and held himself up as a model (1 Cor 7:8). Your deeds inform your prayer, and your prayer for the world informs your deeds in the world. A monastic life of prayer without deeds is not a full Christian life: to grow, faith needs practical testing. Jesus often went alone to the desert to pray, but he always came back, to do. He did not found a monastic community, and never suggested that his disciples should.

            I know that monasteries provided some mediaeval social services. But they got the resources to do that by harsh taxes on the peasants who worked the lands owned by the monasteries, lands extending far beyond what the monks needed for their own fare.

          • David

            That is equally ridiculous. I use the Bible as a guide. It isn’t a workshop manual, giving precise instructions for every age that comes after it. Innovations that work well are to be explored, and to be adapted and changed to our present age.

          • Anton

            That’s what the liberal Christians says about SSM.

          • David

            Yet more nonsense !
            Please think more deeply before you type.

            Again you are confusing different types of things, making a category error, as the philosopher’s say.

            Redefining marriage would change our understanding of man, woman, family, humanity and how we structure society; it reflects even upon the fundamental doctrine of the nature of the Trinity. It impacts upon the entire understanding of who we are as persons, and how Christ relates to His Church and the rest of the Godhead.

            Monasteries are merely one option for how we structure the organisation that is the visible Church.

          • Anton

            I’ll take that as your declining to dispute the points I made against monasticism from the Bible.

          • 1642again

            Entirely correct David. Always learn from what worked and ignore ideology. It’s called being pragmatic.

          • Martin

            But Christians aren’t called to be pragmatic, just biblical.

          • 1642again

            Being effective, i.e. practical/pragmatic, or what works to advance the cause of Christ on earth, is surely Biblical. Forms can change and must change, to adapt to circumstances but in its two thousand year history the Church has overcome many threats and problems, and we should learn to see what from its past is relevant today.

          • Martin

            No, being pragmatic means reacting to what works, the Christian has no idea of what ‘works’ he just knows what God commands.

          • 1642again

            That is one of the most extraordinarily obtuse statements I have ever seen in my life. It’s implication is that all human learning, activity and knowledge is pointless and to be ignored. It is in direct contravention of many of Jesus’ parables and teachings (the Vineyard and the Talents spring to mind), and all the church fathers, including Paul, would be speechless. Scrap medicine because God will cure or let die, scrap farming because God will feed or let starve… Unbelievable.

            I have to say by general comment that I started to post on here with some trepidation because frankly a lot of the main commentators seem to be obsessed with denominational minutiae and point scoring, petty vendettas and speak of things of which it’s clear they have little knowledge. Some just frankly come across as nuts and posessing only a partial understanding of the Christian Spirit.

            If you think God is CoE (whichever wing), or RC (whichever wing), or Orthodox (whichever of many), or non-conformist (whichever of hundreds) or any of the other Christian traditions, you’re a heretic. These divisions are a scandal in the eyes of Him and whose people who need Him.

            Fine, I have no problem with different traditions which have slightly different emphases because different things appeal to different people,, and as long as they agree in the matters essential for salvation I don’t care whether there are lots of little different fishing boats or one big one, only that the catch is maximised.

            To have people descending on you because you think that monasteries could play a role in the future salvation of the church, especially when such people clearly have little knowledge of the monastic achievement, or because you want to focus resources on things that work well and believe that God wants people to exert themselves and work effectively with the materials to hand, is extraordinary. What an indictment of Christians today! No wonder the world is rejecting us.

          • It’s no good getting all half-crownish because people disagree with you. I object to monasteries because they are unbiblical. Find me a monastery in the Bible and you might have a point.
            Columbanus et al achieved what they did because they left the monasteries, not because they stayed in them. Our Lord’s command is ‘Go into all the world and preach……’ (Mark 16:16).

          • 1642again

            Which is what they did. Do you object to cruciform churches because they are unBiblical or to blood transfusions because they are as well?

            As for getting ‘hl;f crownish’ (whatever that means) if you can’t see the point I’m making then you are one of those to whom I was referring.

          • Martin

            Cruciform churches are a pain for the preacher. How is he to be heard.

          • I’ll take that as an admission that there are no monasteries in the Bible, and no concept of them. So why are we even discussing them?
            You have some great thoughts in your post above. Don’t spoil them.

          • 1642again

            Please don’t be so arrogant. On that basis you condemn the value of all Christian endeavour post 100 AD as having no value: music, art, literature etc. Monasteries did much good for the faith and could do again in hard times. I am am open minded, you anything but.

          • chefofsinners

            How many monks does it take to preach the gospel?
            Nun.

          • Martin

            Nothing obtuse, since we are thinking in terms of what the Christian must do., The Christians isn’t to do what seems to work but be obedient to the Bible.

          • 1642again

            So you abide by the laws of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy? The Bible is not the Koran, it is not a detailed point by point prescription for every moment of a society’s life, but rather a set of first principles to inform our decision making as we face new and complex situations. It’s why Christianity has left Islam and other cultures behind in the dust and achieved so much in every sphere of life. It’s why Jesus fulfilled and replaced the Mosaic Law and replaced it with two First Principles – Love Thy God and Love Thy Neighbour – utterly revolutionary things. We must be obedient to these two and apply them as required. Christ does not require mindless slavish obedience but voluntary accord motivated by freely given love and consent that reflect His gifts to us. The Christian God and the Islamic god are entirely different.

          • Martin

            As the laws of Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy are repeated in the New Testament, yes, and the structure given to the local church is quite clear in the New Testament. There is no hierarchy, save Christ, no Authority save His word. No man is called to reign over the Church save one.

          • 1642again

            Extraordinary. You re clearly at variance with St Paul and the other Apostles. Good luck with that.

          • Martin

            Not at all.

          • Anton

            Agreed re church structure. But the Council of Jerusalem was about which parts of the Pentateuch to put gentiles under, and it wasn’t the lot.

          • Martin

            Anton

            And so the moral law is repeated, but the ceremonial and civil is not.

          • Anton

            Agreed entirely. Those are the laws that Christians should campaign for. I do think your earlier reply might have given 1642again the impression that you believed you had to obey all categories, though.

          • David

            Objective : Teach The Bible, far and wide, without compromise.
            But run the organisation in a way that ensures that, the “Objective” is never compromised.
            So you may need to be fair and ruthless, to remove the unhelpful within, i.e. the unconvinced, doubters etc.

          • Martin

            David

            The only biblical organisation is the local church, where they should have multiple elders/overseers.

          • David

            Well if that works well, let’s celebrate it and run with it.
            That’s a good model. No doubt that particular variant for organisation would appeal to many rugged independent types, so that is great ! But it is only ONE way.

            It is not the only way to do it, so let’s not fall into the trap of being dogmatic about how ALL Christian churches should be run. After all, any organisational form is merely a tool, a mere tool, for achieving the main objective, which is to preach the gospel of salvation through faith, through the grace of God.

            So let many different organisational forms flourish, as long as they all bring Christ crucified, The Holy Gospel, into the hearts of men, women and children.

          • Martin

            David

            It’s the way the Bible lays down.

          • Anton

            By what authority did the church depart from the structure described in the New Testament?

          • David

            If you are saying that only organisational structures described in The Bible can be used as a basis for successful new church plants and growth then you are being unbelievably silly.

            To exemplify, springing up across the UK are new pop-up churches each one headed by a husband-wife team. They are very successful. Are you saying that there can be no experimentation in how we organise new churches ?

            Doctrine, belief and teachings constitute the immutable Truths of Scripture, summarised in the Creeds.
            Details of how we organise and structure can be flexible to reflect different societies, ages, cultures and technologies.

          • Anton

            There are many ways to spread the word, and the way you describe sounds a good one. But I affirm that I believe the resulting collective of believers should be organised such that spiritual leadership is provided by a plurality of men known as elders/overseers. Would you please answer my question rather than swerve round it: By what authority did the church depart from the structure described in the New Testament?

          • David

            “spiritual leadership is provided by a plurality of men”
            I support that model myself. What noun you use to describe that group of men is of little importance. I believe that “male headship” is the model given in Scripture and moreover it seems to work well. Women are hugely important in many roles, and men and women are equal, but different, with different roles, that’s my general approach.
            Western culture, confused by Cultural Marxism and its tools, PC brainwashing, is in denial regarding the fact that men and women are alike but also fundamentally different, by God’s good design.

          • Anton

            And by militant feminism. Well said.

          • David

            Quite. In running any operation, see what works – do more of it – pragmatism ! It’s how I managed my directorate.
            But the law is often a pain, making highly necessary sackings far slower, expensive and more time consuming. But you battle through.

          • Rhoda

            Not such a pragmatic idea now; if Christian men and women go into monasteries then who will engage with the Muslims in our land or keep Christian birthrates on a par with theirs?

          • 1642again

            Please. I was suggesting a few houses as intellectual beacons of intellectual Apologetic Christianity, not conscripting huge numbers of men. See my correspondence with Albert.

          • Dominic Stockford

            That is the most significant concern I have with the thoughtful entry above.

          • Peasant Farmer

            It’s a question mark rather than a concern I think.

            Realist that I am, if @1642again could get his 12 theses implemented in its entirety then the good it would do the c of e would be immeasurable, monasteries and all!

        • David

          Without wishing to put words into your mouth, but essentially, it seems to me that you are saying, take courage in both hands, do what needs to be done, no matter how unpleasant, and always, always, oppose, attack lies, heresy and false teachings, fearlessly contending for the truth. If I have represented that correctly, it strikes me as an excellent approach.

          • 1642again

            Entirely correct – an accurate summary David. If the Church walks with God it will succeed. If it conforms to the world it will fail. If one does not believe this then one’s faith is compromised fundamentally.

      • Peasant Farmer

        And thankyou, Archbishop, for your sterling efforts over the last year.

        • 1642again

          Indeed.

    • David

      Excellent !
      You’ve said it all. Well done !
      We need convinced Christian leaders who believe, not doubt, the Bible, who will spend their lives contending, fighting for the truth with courage !

      • 1642again

        Again I agree with you David. Care to move to Devon?

    • I agree with all your points except No. 12. On that, words fail me…..

      • 1642again

        Put aside your prejudice and read about the early monastic tradition. We are slipping into a new Dark Age and the monasteries were beacons of light and mission in the last.

        • Andrew Price

          Dark ages? Yes we’re more secular, Christianity is being squeezed in the west. But the Bible is freely available, increasingly translated, good books freely available, evangelicals holding there own if not growing.

          I’m not convinced of the need for monastic living although I could see the benefits of communal living for certain folk maybe. Although I would be a dreadful candidate 😉

          • 1642again

            The Dark Age is a term that applies to the old Western Roman empire, and then really mainly Britain. The Eastern Roman Empire hardly flickered at all.

            As for monasticism, it has some merits. It’s not a panacea but I believe it could have renewed value. I simply don’t understand why so many people are getting so worked up about something that did so much good to the early and later church. Not without its drawbacks certainly, but to despise it is to despise on of Christianity’s greatest achievements.

          • Martin

            As someone has said, Christians would have been more use in the community.

    • Plasterer

      Where’s the +100 button?!

    • Albert

      I haven’t read all this, but this thesis jumped off the page:

      When one does, those of Dawkins etc are rapidly stripped of the impression that they are the only logical world view.

      Dawkins represents a logical world-view?!

      You’re quite right, the lack of philosophical apologetics amongst the clergy is very bizarre. We have such good philosophy to use, that it’s odd the Church so often opts for a kind of fideism.

      • 1642again

        Thanks. Dawkins is perceived to represent a logical world view. I disagree with that but that is the common perception. The churches of all flavours have failed to challenge this. It’s a reason I am inclined to restore some monasteries as intellectual Christian power houses to argue another world view based on learning outside theology, just as we used to have with the Scholastics, Aquinas etc. A point entirely lost on some on here.

        • Albert

          Great idea! Dawkins is actually a gift to us because he is so ignorant and so incoherent, but so highly regarded by some. We don’t need a straw man, we’ve got Dawkins to knock down!

          And there are some excellent people doing this: John Lennox for example, Thomas Crean has written a very accessible little book demolishing Dawkins, and then there’s the work of William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga. Ed Feser’s critique is so excoriating you could almost feel sorry for Dawkins, were it not for the fact that it is so funny. These are all people who can take Dawkins down with their little fingers, because they know what they are talking about, whereas he doesn’t. Frankly, provided one knows the Christian primary material, you don’t need secondary material, you just need to read Dawkins to see the problems.

          • 1642again

            We are of like mind on this at least. I’ve read Feser, Lane Craig, Lennox and others. The True Church needs to get its act together.

          • Albert

            Definitely – you’ll notice that the majority of those I cited are not Catholic. When we’re simply talking about whether God exists and whether Christianity is true etc. we should work together and learn from each other.

          • 1642again

            Agreed. Merely different regiments in the same army.

          • Pubcrawler

            I add David Bentley Hart to the ecumenical mix.

          • Albert

            Thank you – I’ve not read him, but I’ve added Atheist Delusions to my wish list.

          • 1642again

            Great book and a real mind expander. Read it three times in succession to fully comprehend it.

          • 1642again

            Read him too.

  • chefofsinners

    An extraordinarily long-winded ride on Martyn’s favourite hobby horse, named ‘What this church needs is me’.
    The whole discourse is based on the assumption that there is a vast reserve of theologian-pastors just ready to step into the role of bishop. And we know who you think they are, don’t we Martyn? Those who refuse to give up sexual sin. No problem. Two thousand years of doctrine is putty in the hands of you superior theologians. But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, not the other way around.
    Unfortunately, Martyn Percy, you are no Martin Luther. You are just another heretic.

    • So was Martin Luther …

      • Martin

        HJ

        No, the heretic was the pope.

      • chefofsinners

        So are you.

  • David

    The article makes a number of useful points, but they are lost to all but those with much spare time, submerged within the usual Anglican mistake of using too many words to say but a few very important things. In short, in a busy world, the article condemns itself by not being contextual !

    However the article does have its strengths !

    I thoroughly support the main idea that Bishops should be interpreters of the Bible, Biblical theologians and not mere, two a penny managers; they must teach The Bible as it is written, speaking its truth into our present culture. In short they need to preach the gospel in a way that speaks into our contemporary situations today. This needs to be done not in a PC way, and not from any recognisable, particular political perspective, but both lovingly and fearlessly, as did the prophets of old. In organisational terms, by all means bishops should set the overall policies, but day to day management should be by managers, who need not be ordained, but simply good, sound, God fearing men and women.

    Who would I queue up for, to hear them speak ? There are number of true men of God that I would suffer inconvenience to hear. They are the orthodox, conservative Christian leaders like Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali for one, a man of deep culture and understanding, fearless and uncompromising in proclaiming the Word of God, all said in thoughtful, compassionate ways. There are others to, amongst both the bishops and other clergy, who are well worth queuing to hear.

    • Jon of GSG

      Yes I also would queue to hear Michael N-A. The best speakers I’ve heard though are mainly rank-and-file clergy, and I don’t really understand why that should be a bad thing. That said, I still don’t understand what bishops are for, even having read all these 95 points…

  • carl jacobs

    I am tempted to replace these 95 Theses with just one:

    “It is said that the road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops. Go find that road and pave it.”

    OK. Perhaps overly cynical. So then let’s start with a more fundamental question.

    1. The Office of Bishop is a traditional and not a Scriptural Office.

    2. The office of Bishop can be abolished without doing violence to Scripture.

    3. The office of Bishop should be abolished.

    • chefofsinners

      Aye, well, the office of a bishop as we know it. The New Testament version is acceptable I hope?
      We could start by abolishing their thrones, palaces and the fancy dress. Throw in a few other requirements… shall we say ‘not given to much wine’ and ‘the husband of one wife’. That should whittle it down a bit.

      • carl jacobs

        I almost included this as number 4. Perhaps I should have.

        4. Episcopos and Presbuteros are interchangeable terms in Scripture.

        (Didn’t check Greek spelling so please forgive if wrong.)

        • Martin

          Can I upvote that twice?

      • Cressida de Nova

        Speaking of fancy dress …not that your regalia isn’t fetching..but my papist eyes would like to feast on something a little less
        Protestant for the New Year !

        • chefofsinners

          I have the new codpiece on order. I shall wear it on Fridays, in true Popish fashion.

          • carl jacobs

            A cod piece… Is that anything like salted herring?

          • chefofsinners

            Pardon? I am a little hard of herring.

          • carl jacobs

            Perhaps you should consult an Eye Ear Nose and Throat Sturgeon.

          • chefofsinners

            I consulted one about my near deaf experience.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well I’m not surprised. That box in the ears was meant to hurt. Codpiece indeed !

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        One shudders…

        • chefofsinners

          “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands.”
          Titus chapter 2.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      Goodness! One has the vapours….

  • John

    The influence and importance of bishops are overrated. The vast majority of gospel thrust around the Church of England recently (e.g. Alpha, Christianity Explored, HTB church planting, 24/7 Prayer, Soul Survivor, New Wine etc) has come from grass roots, not the episcopate. Richard Chartres’ Mission Action Plans in London are the one exception – and that is exactly the kind of visionary missiological planning Martyn Percy is complaining about. God help us if any more from Percy’s constituency get given a pink shirt.

    • David

      Quite.
      The fish rots from the head down. It is the same with the Church.
      The fresh shoots of new faith, new growth come from those godly men, who want to be at the base level, acting as faithful preachers of God’s Word.
      There are plenty of good, gospel preaching Anglican vicars, but in each town you must seek them out amongst the desert of liberal doubters.

  • 95 Theses, that’s far too many, a lot are repetitive. The only one we need is item 4 which reads: “The church needs bishops who can be theologians, and contextualize the Word of God, so congregations can begin to reflect theologically on their lives and work today.”

    Action and passion it what’s needed. Until clergy, Bishops, street preachers can have the freedom without being shouted down, gaged under political correctness, banned or jailed, to stand up and declare adultery, homosexual acts, greed, etc… as sinful and destructive to society and get us to repent of our sins to lead more moral and thoughtful lives, then it doesn’t really matter how many of those theses are nailed to doors.

    • David

      Hhmm, but if enough “clergy, Bishops, street preachers” all proclaimed the truth at around the same time….. all being prepared to risk arrest…… in their thousands… wouldn’t that have an effect ? As it is now, the few faithful ones are being picked off one by one by the enemies snipers.

      • Oh yes it most certainly would. They’d be less likely to be shouted down too.
        I pray that God will give courage to those in the Church who need it and to protect the few faithful who put their heads above the parapet.

        • David

          Exactly !

  • carl jacobs

    Luther btw in his 95 Theses talked about Theology. He didn’t talk about people doing theology.

  • Manfarang

    New 39 Articles surely.

  • Albert

    do we need 95 New Theses for the 21st century?

    Not likely. Look at the mess the last lot got us into.

    • Anton

      Out of.

      • Albert

        Actually, I’ve just looked up Luther’s original 95. I agree with the first one. I haven’t read beyond the second, so I give him 1 Out of 95. Feel free to suggest some more.

        • Anton

          You actually give him 1/1 so far, ie 100%.

          • Albert

            Yes, if you want to put it that way. If it continues as well as that, then great! But I’m a bit left wondering why so much fuss would have been made if that’s all he was saying…

          • Anton

            It’s up to you whether you persist in reading the other 94 !

          • Albert

            Well let’s see. 2 is okay, if we are simply talking from a scholarly point of view. 3 Is certainly true – though doesn’t sit easily with “Evangelical” practice, I wouldn’t have thought.

    • carl jacobs

      Who’s “us”?

      • The People of God, Carl.

        • carl jacobs

          Oh, you mean those who were freed from Roman slavery. They did just fine out of the Reformation, Jack.

          • Dominic Stockford

            John 8:32, and happy with it.

          • David

            A very good and succinct answer.

          • No, Carl, Jack means the People of God. Nobody “did fine” out of the Reformation except German Princes. Look at the mess of Christianity today.

          • carl jacobs

            I am not part of a church that seals up corpses in glass boxes and teaches people to worship venerate them. That seems a good thing to me.

          • The Rev. Dr. Goudge, a Protestant and Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University:

            “The whole spirit of the controversies was wrong. They were black with hatred and misrepresentation, and largely conducted in theological Billingsgate . . . If we base our statements upon sixteenth century sources, we generally base them upon poisoned sources. At best they leave out half the truth and at worst they are lying …

            No instructed Roman Catholic now denies the appalling condition of Western Christendom at the beginning of that century, or the failure of the Conciliar and other reforming movements to deal successfully with it. No instructed Protestant now denies that political and personal motives bulked very large in the Protestant Reformation . . .

            It is the duty of the better informed members of all communions to correct the errors of the less informed, especially when these errors lead them to misjudge those from whom they are separated.”
            (The Church of England and Reunion.)

          • carl jacobs

            The appalling condition of the Roman church was first and foremost dogmatic. That Rome sold indulgences was a secondary matter. That Rome taught indulgences was the greater fault. The freedom purchased by the Reformation was freedom from the idolatries of Rome.

          • “That Rome taught indulgences was the greater fault.”

            And your authority for asserting this, is what? Luther claimed that Catholic doctrine itself had become corrupted, and that he had “rediscovered” the Gospel.

          • carl jacobs

            And your authority for asserting this, is what?

            And there we have the whole of the argument in one question. As I have said many times, the difference between Catholic and Protestant is a difference of authority. My authority is Scripture. Jack knows this. By what authority does he establish Rome as the Ecclesial mediator between God and man? Does he say Scripture? He cannot, for he cannot understand the Scripture absent the church he upholds. So does he say “The church itself”? Oh, yes, he does. For he has no other choice.

            The Protestant says “Scripture is the unnormed norm that norms all norms.”

            The Catholic says “The Magisterium is the unnormed norm that norms all norms.”

            This is why Jack must say the Holy Spirit will never allow an infallible declaration of dogma. He has no choice. This is why he is a slave to Rome. He has no way to judge the infallible declarations of his church. He can only submit – no matter what they tell him.

          • “My authority is Scripture.”

            Don’t you mean scripture alone? And thus everyman claims authority to interpret it as he sees fit – in contradiction to scripture itself.

            The authority of the Apostolic Church is firmly rooted in scripture, as is the promise of doctrinal indefectibility. Luther had no Apostolic authority for his heretical and schismatic innovations. He corrupted the doctrines of Christ. There are no more grounds to believe in the divine mission of Martin Luther than to believe in the divine mission of Mrs. Eddy to propagate Christian Science, or of Judge Rutherford to establish the Witnesses of Jehovah.

            Indirectly, in God’s Providence, Luther’s revolt forced the Catholic Church to undertake the work of reform. God permitted the defection from the Church of Martin Luther, and made use of his revolt to bring Catholic leaders to a sense of responsibility. The Lutheran revolt brought home to her leaders the urgent need for real reform; and that real reform was effected by the Council of Trent.

          • carl jacobs

            Truth be told, Jack, a faithful Roman Catholic would never need to open a Bible in his life. All he really needs to know are the dogmatic pronouncements of the Magisterium.

          • True. Just as the early Christians only really needed to hear the teaching of the Apostles and their successors.
            Reading scripture isn’t a prerequisite of salvation. It wasn’t until the end of the second century that the core books – the four Gospels, and the letters attributed to Paul, Peter, and John — were fixed in the canon of what we call the New Testament. By 400 A.D., there was consensus around all 27 books of the New Testament.
            A faithful Christian needs to believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Church. If it were otherwise, all who are illiterate couldn’t be saved. Faithful Catholics hear scripture read at Mass and over the Church’s three year liturgical calendar a good amount of it is covered. When Catholics go to Mass, they hear a reading from the Old Testament, they say or sing one of the Psalms, then they listen to a reading from the Epistles, then a Gospel reading. The whole structure fits together so that the Mass is focused on Christ in the Gospels. And the core of the Mass, the consecration, consists of words from scripture.

            A church-going Catholic does know and use Scripture – its just that he uses it primarily for meditation and worship (Psalms 119:48) – not primarily for personal information and instruction. Catholics use the Scripture to determine doctrine and moral principles. It’s just that the Catholic lay person or pastor doesn’t do so on his own. As Paul gave Timothy the apostolic authority to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), so Catholics believe their bishops have inherited the authority of the apostles to teach doctrinal and moral truth faithfully.

            Catholics base this belief on St. Paul’s clear instructions to Timothy, “the things you have heard me say … entrust to reliable men so that they may in turn teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1 – 2). Therefore, it is the bishops – living, praying, and working in a direct line from the Apostles – who use the Bible to determine Christian doctrine and moral principles. Catholic doctrine and moral teaching is biblically-based. Try reading any official Catholic teaching documents and you will find they are – and always have been – permeated and upheld with Scripture.

            Catholic official teachings encourage reading, studying and learning the ScripturesDei Verbum – a document about God’s Word from Second Vatican Council says, “…all clergy should remain in close contact with the Scriptures by means of reading and accurate study of the text…similarly the Council earnestly and expressly calls upon all the faithful…to acquire by frequent reading of holy Scripture the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8) for as St. Jerome said, ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is indeed ignorance of Christ.’”

            Catholics use a variety of methods to communicate the message and story of salvation. Nativity scenes to visually demonstrate the Christmas story, for example. Stained glass windows and statues adorn churches and cathedrals to captivate the senses and inspire the hearts and minds of worshippers. So too with music, particularly Gregorian chant.

            For Catholics, of course, the sacraments, which are biblically rooted, are a path to holiness distinct, but not removed, from the reading of scripture. The mystical interplay between hearing and seeing explains the attraction of the Catholic sacraments, rituals wherein familiar words, actions, and the ordinary stuff of this world — water, oil, fire, incense — take on a certain beauty and depth. In the sacraments, the Divine is revealed. With a sacramental understanding, for example, the believer witnesses water washing away sins, and ordinary bread and wine becoming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic meal.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Beautifully expressed and explained.There is a great value in conversing at this level with Protestants. It makes one realise how blessed we are and sadly how much they have been denied. Luther is responsible for the spiritual destruction of millions of lives.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I never been taught to worship or venerate corpses in a sealed up glass box….you must be thinking of your Klu Klux Klan hang a nigger from a tree Church !

          • carl jacobs

            https://www.google.com/search?biw=360&bih=311&ei=akNsWNTiIIjBjwT36LSgDg&q=heart+st+john+vianney+boston&oq=heart+st+john+vianney+boston&gs_l=mobile-gws-serp.12…48081.53239.0.56345.11.11.0.0.0.0.204.1617.0j9j1.10.0….0…1c.1j4.64.mobile-gws-serp..1.7.1182…35i39k1j30i10k1.Re_hl8wNgjI

            The heart of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests, will be brought to New York and Boston from France this month, in hopes that veneration of the relic will inspire current priests in their ministry and inspire other men to join the priesthood.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I have already explained in this post how Catholicism is expressed with consideration to different cultures providing it is compatible with the Church teachings. I am not compelled to pray to any saint. It is my choiceThere is a big question mark over American Catholicism and has been for some time. Culturally speaking considering you lot voted in a lunatic as President it seems fitting that American men would be inspired by a centuries old sainted Catholic corpse.providing you don’t put a Davy Crockett hat on it. This is just another incident of your tedious Catholic bashing
            OH and something you should know about your religion.
            The majority of the Klan are Christians. Now we know that they do not turn up at the Catholic Church to worship so guess where they go?….as if you did not know!

          • carl jacobs

            If you would like any further instruction on what your church teaches, please feel free to ask. I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to find a picture of the little gold box that holds this piece of necrotic corruption.

      • Albert

        The members of the body of Christ.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes, well, there is no mystery in a Roman Catholic claiming that the Reformation was bad for the Roman Catholic Church. But I suppose we would disagree about the relationship of the RCC to the Body of Christ.

          • Albert

            Yes, but there is a deeper question, which is that we would disagree on the relationship of the visible Church to the body of Christ.

    • Cressida de Nova

      indeed…from bad to worse and increasingly worse.

    • Good one!
      Happy New Year, Albert.

      • Albert

        Happy New Year to you too. I must confess that I posted without reading the new 95 theses. (But then, TBH, I’ve never read the first 95 theses either!)

        • “I’ve never read the first 95 theses either!”

          *gasp*

          • Albert

            Well, I mean, honestly: 95 Theses? It’s a bit of an indulgence isn’t it?!

          • Good one.
            Yep – and Christianity is certainly paying the price.

          • Martin

            HJ

            Christians are paying the price for the invention of the hierarchy and the failure to translate certain words.

          • Ivan M

            Yes, when Jesus said only two were enough to secure salvation.

          • Albert

            Absolutely!

      • Cressida de Nova

        Happy New Year Albert !

    • IanCad

      Never miss a trick; do you Albert?

      • Albert

        🙂 I try not to!

    • dannybhoy

      Brutal..

      • Albert

        Really? I thought it was rather understated, given the circumstances. 🙂

        • Martin

          The mess you are in is down to your pope, not us or Luther.

          • Albert

            I think it’s down to lots of people TBH – Catholics and Protestants.

      • Merchantman

        You’re thinking of the Borgias who came just before.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I want pastors/overseers [whatever you want to call them] to preach the Gospel of salvation found in Christ alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone; and also to oppose error wherever it may be found (both of theology, which leads to eternal life – and of practice, which demonstrates ungodliness).

    That’s their task. We don’t need 95 more theses, we need people to read and cogitate on the first 95, in light of the infallible and inerrant Word of God.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    A lot of theses to wade through, so I skipped over them had a look and found yet another Cranmer comments Prod v Papist punch-up. I feel like Cnut Cyng might have felt:

    Fain wold he brakë frith and crackë heads

    but instead I will simply take note of the middle section where it talks of Human Resources. As a Chesterton fan, that is a term that appals me. So soulless.

    • dannybhoy

      The Orangemen do it better..

      • chefofsinners

        Don’t bring Donald Trump into this.

        • dannybhoy

          Very good. Re age, it comes across in your comments that you’re not really old.
          Oldish perhaps, a little scraggy around the neck, a sense of despair about you..
          But like Victor Meldrew, still able to kick off your slippers and misbehave occasionally.

          • Cressida de Nova

            What are you banging on about…COS is tipped to win hot Protestant of the Year Award 2017.

          • dannybhoy

            Mois?
            Bang-ging on??
            (quick dig)
            According to those of the true Church who despair over us, all Protestants are hot and will be even hotter one day..
            But I do agree that the CoS is one of our brightest blog stars

          • Cressida de Nova

            Please do not encourage CoS. He is threatening to dazzle us all with a codpiece. Please use your influence to dissuade him. 1642 will mistake him for a neo nazi . Poor thing has not been blessed with a sense of humour. He thinks jack and I want to burn him at the stake.

          • dannybhoy

            I have no influence whatsoever with the said CoSpiece. He is a law unto himself, and has no respect for us old people and our gummy mutterings..
            1642 has no sense of humour?
            I’m sure that in the right circumstances and amongst friends he can be very amusing..

    • Anton

      Yes, “Human Resources” is how the Nazis viewed people.

    • IanCad

      Too true! Bring back the Personnel Department.

  • I am enjoying this and am commenting before having read all. My gut feeling is that just as Jesus reduced the commandments to two that embraced them all, the same can probably be done here. Nevetheless, I would like to comment on Number Nine!

    “Our church today has cut itself adrift from traditional models of episcopacy and replaced them with management-led officers in an organisational structure. But as two commentators from The Economist, Adrian Aldridge and John Micklethwait note (see The Company: A Short History of a Revolutionary idea, 2003, p. 11): ‘(these) managers have always fancied themselves in the officer class’. Indeed they have, and in the church, they are now running the show.”

    As a retired army officer I would like to point out that the motto of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst is “Serve to Lead”. Although this offers certainly two interpretations the primary one is the one of serving the soldiery in order to earn the right to lead them. Tend to the wounded, feed the horses, feed the troops, lastly attend to yourself. This attitude is deeply ingrained in most officers, though of course some fall short. The point I am making is that “running the show”, as has been put above, is about looking after the best interests of all that you serve, even at the expense of yourself. Of course this must never involve unscriptural compromises to serve politics, political correctness, modern social beliefs. Jesus put it as perfectly as it is possible to do …..

    Mark 9:35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

    This is a huge responsibility and takes a real shepherd’s heart to fulfil properly.

  • IanCad

    Must admit that I have never read Luther’s 95. Oh Sure! Talked about them as a milestone of the Reformation but have been far too lazy to actually read them. Now there is no excuse. Thanks to HG’s link I will read all of them. Not just the controversial ones – such as his seeming acceptance of the existence of purgatory; but all of them. Then I’ll wade through Dean Percy’s modern version to see if he addresses any points Luther may have missed.

    • David

      Commendably thorough Ian.

      • IanCad

        Thanks David, I have only just now read 1642’s comment, which, were I to attempt to digest both theses and then comment, would be a redundancy. He said it all – maybe a quibble with #12 – thus I can eat supper, play with the cat. and let others do the heavy lifting for me.

        • David

          OK – it’s all right to go with the flow sometimes.
          “Cats” – plural !
          One deadly effective mouser, ratter is enough for me !

  • gerv

    Luther has a lot to answer for; any time someone in the Protestant church wants to say something they hope will carry weight, they now have to make the same point 95 different ways.

  • Actually this sounds rather like either an oblique job application or a political diatribe.
    I sense nowhere that Mr Percy is committed to the word of God in toto and if he is not, he is part of the problem, not the solution.
    .
    We do need a new Reformation, but a new set of Bishops is not going to bring it to us. The Reformation in England, contrary to popular myth, was (under God) a people’s movement, and it was Monarchs, Bishops and ecclesiastics who hijacked it.
    .
    I believe that there is the start of a longing among church-goers to hear the word of God, and to do that most of them are going to have to leave the church they are in, and that is very hard for many folk to do. But just as people in the 15th Century would risk their lives to hear the Lollard preachers and those in the 17th Century would risk all to hear Dissenting preachers, so where folk are sitting under a ministry that does not hear the word of God, they need to find a church that does and leave the dead to bury the dead. That is all the reformation we need. We don’t need another 95 theses; we need the word of God. 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

    • David

      One need not even leave one’s denomination. Next month I am finally moving out of a rural- liberal type church to a Bible led one, but all within the C of E. The liberal ones are literally dying off, as new replacements for the dead simply do not appear, whilst the conservative, evangelical churches continue growing gently.

      • There is a goodly number of Bible-believing churches in the C of E, including a fine one near where I live. Better by far to join one of those than to remain in a dead congregation of the dead.
        However, I fear you may be hanging onto a live branch of a rotten trunk and sooner or later the whole edifice will collapse. There came a time when godly Lot had to leave Sodom and run for his life; that time may be drawing near for Christians in the C of E.

        • David

          Yes I agree a split may be on its way between the living and the dead + doomed.
          I don’t know if you are aware of the on-going global battle between godly GAFCON (the conservative Anglicans of the global south) and the increasingly heterodox hierarchy of the C of E, led by Welby ? Well GAFCON, who I support, predict a split within the C of E.
          I shan’t make predictions, but one of the reasons for my move on February 1st is to get on the Biblical side of any possible future fissure, indeed my heart has been there for some years now.

          • dannybhoy

            Justin needs to nail his colours to the mast. Either he is for Christ or he is for the State.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Does he know who Christ is?

          • dannybhoy

            I don’t know him Martin. I don’t know what he thinks his role is or whether he is simply following a well meaning confused gospel.
            Heck, he might think the same about me if he met me…. ;0)

          • David

            I agree, but my money is on him trying to have his cake and eat it, an approach which will not hold for long. In fact I don’t think it will hold much longer, maybe another decade perhaps.

          • Well brother, I wish you every blessing.
            We certainly live in interesting times.

          • David

            Thank you.
            Interesting times – indeed.

  • John

    We don’t need 95 new theses. We are not like the medieval Catholic Church ripping off peasants, locking the Bible away from public access, and pedaling false gospels and superstitions to finance the construction of a monstrously oversized church in Rome. We have one Bible, and one apostolic faith, carefully passed down to us with a charge to transmit it unadulterated, untainted, unspoiled, unchanged and understood to the next generation. That’s what we need, not an obsession with what bishops do.

    • chefofsinners

      Are you by any chance my friend John, who when we visited St Peter’s basilica went into the English language confessional box and asked forgiveness for selling indulgences to the poor of Europe and using the money to build an obscenely massive church in Rome?

      • John

        What a legend! Alas, it was not I. Though I did once blow out a candle in St Peter’s Rome when I was about 12 for a dare with my brother – and I was instantly rebuked by a pop-up, cross-looking clergyman, whose priestly ministry seemed focused entirely on ensuring church candles remain lit until they burn out naturally.

        • dannybhoy

          You shoulda said, “Yes.”
          Would’ve completely knocked his cooked hat askew…

          • chefofsinners

            I was much less restrained in my youth. Every now and then it catches up.

          • dannybhoy

            Old git..

          • chefofsinners

            Middle aged git, actually.
            I always wanted to have a youth worth running away from, until I reached middle age and realised that I already had an old age worth running away from.

      • carl jacobs

        That is such a Chef story, it must be true.

        • chefofsinners

          I swear it is true. We fled, of course. Then bought a post card of John Paul, the pope at the time, and sent it to our (very reformed) pastor with just the words “Having a great time in Rome. Learning lots of new and interesting doctrines.”

          • Dominic Stockford

            You are a cheeky one!

      • Cressida de Nova

        The confessor would have known you weren’t a Catholic . They are trained to spot a Protestant…the ringlets give them away every time.

  • not a machine

    Your grace offers some repeats and perhaps a general grumbly narrative of protestant upset ,but other churches may well indeed encounter similar questions, the world has changed the sheep have sought nourishment in a new parable of the good zombie farmer ,the clergy have become the teachers union ,in some cases its been forced upon them , by the mustbesafe police and peadofinder general .
    I perhaps start by a true story from a good few years ago I admit I was trying to look good but that’s by and by ,I was doing a course and in that course we were asked to ask people what they thought the holy spirit was . as luck would have the bishop was in town for and I took the opportunity to get my question to him , for what I thought would be an intelligent answer ,imagine my surprise when my bishop seemed to look worried “i oversee such courses and am unable to give an answer” ,quite what the bishops guiding understanding of Christ was , the parable of subtle contradiction , or even the parable of a man who detested biblical distinctions .that incidence started me off pondering ,if it were possible a bishop could not believe in Christ ,Christ would not have sent me away with such an answer as my bishop gave me .
    That aside there are many learned and theologically sound people in churches ,they may well be finding themselves in a shrinking pond and perhaps arguing about small matters ,they perhaps are worried it is immediately bigotry to promote one faith in anywhere other than a church , and some are having interfaith dialogue and working .So there is perhaps something going on as internal church picture , but it is struggling to make a connection to people , because people have in new righton politically correct era found a new religion .Who would have thought that in the UK in 2017 to say you are a practicing Christian ,would be met by very mixed feelings from your employer and work group in some cases disdain and ridicule .
    The one aspect where we all perhaps fall down ,is making intellectual arguments about church , I admit they are hard to avoid ,I have felt aggrieved by many recent changes in the church of England , and I am perhaps quietly narcistically pleased , when having been beaten so soundly by the new zealots ,that they then go on to not improve anything or attendance .The sourness of the Pharisee is a common ailment .The new churches are in the dangerous territory of who is blessed and who isn’t in general currency ,similar to sales rankings , but I try not be too harsh , so there sheep are quite happy with modernity as its just a non stop gossipy comment stream anyway .
    The truth ……. well it appears to me God/Christ is Omni present , and he seems to be with those the most who “earnestly repent” and perhaps those who love the light and refuse the evil ,for when you are in the time of the little repentences,i would imagine any church that doesn’t reflect this will be in some sort of difficulty at some point .
    I admit though I do not have the mind of God so I have only a few ideas on why most churches are not stuffed to the gunnels ,with people who love Jesus , and know his pattern to be the truth .I don’t particulary buy into those that see oscillations in church activity ,but I do perhaps consider that making Christians that can live a life , help one another ,have some understanding of the bible and become vessels that can contain the holy spirit , is pretty fundamental .If your church thinks that turning your tassel one way as opposed to the church down the road which turns there tassel the other is important ,then you are in effect arguing about objects .I do admit you may wish to find preference , worship that honors those who have gone before us ,or you might like one that takes a weekly pop at the traditional churches so you feel blessed and modern .church as in the act of going somewhere to sit down and contemplate ,is a weird thing to a group of people , who want to check out or book on the internet ,or even the comfort of an update app ,so you don’t look too primitive to your facebook friends .
    oh uh so the churches problem is one of image then………no not quite that fence has been jumped ,your graces 95 contained much about lack of coherent theology , now there is the theology that learned people study , and then there is what I call my own theology .My own theology has been influenced by the encounters I have had or indeed some of the thinking I have done , some has come directly from what I would term the holy spirit , but to be honest you mention you were informed by the holy spirit of something , and most people think , you should see a mental health practitioner , and in one rather troubling event I recall at a hospital when praying for someone who was dying ,I was asked if I was having voices in my head type thing , I wonder if I should have told the doctor to sod off and who should analyze his brain for dysfunctional behavior for his lack of god …. ah but hes a professional with certificates and the like ,my factual lack and poor logical intelligent constructs are bound to make a lesser person than he …… and I would be embarrassed if I pushed it too far.
    yes these days being a Christian is some sort of embarrassment , similar to waiting for tooth fairy ,if on camera on regular way ,or noticeable opening of the heavens in 4k super uht ,it would all be so much easier to convince people “there is a bigger spirit world” and its not full of ghost fake news stuff video clips .
    what God is , is difficult , who god is is difficult ,why God is is near impossible , do I believe that Jesus Christ is our lord , absolutely ,its beyond doubt for my self .the only way I can account for jesus being in my life is my journey , which has been a bit of all sorts , but I thank a good anglo catholic teacher for my time when it came to strong meat ,then I grew and had to start understanding as an adult ,although I understand the Jesuits have a similar leaning to strong meat.
    Don’t doubt the power of Christ , be humble in your approach ask Jesus to help guide you .

    don’t know your grace has never really posted a doctrinal post , I think .

    • Richard Hill

      It would be good to get a reference to an answer to the question that the Bishop couldn’t answer.

      • not a machine

        yes ,I think mysteries help us , propel us , but the bishops failiure was to wish to inform ,someone who wished to learn about something he oversees , which I don’t think is as much as a crime as his clever political response suggests.If the work of Christ is a political matter rather than one of political consequence , then the church reverts back to christs pre crucifixion trial.

  • cybervicar

    Rev Percy’s 95 theses are not bad BUT I feel that they are only half the picture when it comes to the ministry of a bishop. He is spot on to say that too much of the hierarchy comes from the school of management and marketing. (One of the big issues for the CEO bishops is that they are so tied down in their jobs that they have little time for people, especially priests in crisis. ) However, Percy’s new theses are somewhat theologically neutral. It is as if he is advocating intellectual characters when what we also need is more orthodox leaders, namely people who will see teach the historic faith with fire and imagination. Some of these intellectual greats that he advocates (presumably like Jenkins) can do the Church enournous harm, Secondly, I think that we do well to have leaders who are prepared to shed all the pomp and princely riches of the episcopacy. We need paupers not princes. Men and women who are prepared to live lives of extraordinary simplicity and poverty in a Franciscan style.

    • Manfarang

      Men and women who are vegetarians, teetotalers, and non-smokers.

      • Anton

        The first two criteria would disqualify Christ.

        • Manfarang

          There are some who claim Jesus was a vegetarian. The Bible Christian Church was a Christian vegetarian sect founded by William Cowherd in North West England in 1809.To join the church, members had to sign a pledge that committed them to a vegetarian diet and abstention from alcohol.
          Today there are fundamentalist Christians in America who refer to a vegan diet as God’s diet. Whether it is or not, growing numbers are joining the Christian Vegetarian Association.

          • dannybhoy

            If as a good Jew our Lord celebrated Pesach, he would most definitely have eaten meat..
            Lamb to be precise.
            Exodus 12:8-9
            “They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread [a]and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.”

          • Manfarang

            One thing for sure he was born as a Jew, lived as a Jew, and died as a Jew.
            The Ebionites his early followers abstained from “meat with soul in it”
            A lot of todays liberal Jews are vegetarian.

          • Pubcrawler

            “A lot of todays liberal Jews are vegetarian.”

            Because it’s a lot easier to keep kosher that way.

          • Manfarang

            Do you know where the kosher butcher’s shop is in Saigon?
            Some Muslims become vegetarian where halal meat is not available.

          • Pubcrawler

            Why should l? And there is more to keeping kosher than the meat itself.

            Muslims can do what they like (don’t they just!). Their choices are of no interest or relevance to me.

          • Manfarang

            To assist any Jewish travelers to that place! Of course it doesn’t, that is why observant Jews who visit or live there become vegetarians.
            You don’t buy petrol?

          • Pubcrawler

            Sorry, I’m not entirely sure what you point now is. For some, vegetarianism is a practical choice in some circumstances where the meat which they are permitted to eat is unavailable or (in the case of liberal Jews who do wish to keep kosher) the rules surrounding the consumption of meat with other foodstuff are complex and they feel it’s easier just to avoid the complication. Fine. Were I ever to find myself in an Islamic country I would perforce be tee-total (one of many reasons not to go to one). So? That is just an observation, it’s not an argument for vegetarianism per se, nor is it relevant to the initial question of whether Christ himself was a vegetarian.

          • Manfarang

            There is a lot of oil in the(Muslim) Middle East and its price can have an impact on western economies.
            The Middle East is awash with alcohol. I know I worked there.
            In most Muslim countries alcohol is available under certain restrictions.
            In the dry countries (that’s where alcohol prohibited not the rain) it is made and sold illegally. (All those alcoholic expats I had to put up with)

          • Pubcrawler

            We are off the topic and down another rabbit hole. Have fun down there, I’m not following.

          • Manfarang

            Well anyway there was plenty of vegetarian food available and the more sober expats went to church. In fact everyone took religion seriously in that part of the world.

          • chefofsinners

            As was alluded to above, Jesus cooked fish for His disciples on the beach after His resurrection. (John 21:12). He also multiplied the bread and fish at the feeding of the 5000. He wasn’t a vegetarian.

          • Manfarang

            Regarding the fish. I have known of vegetarians who have cooked meat for others but not eaten it themselves.
            Reminds me of the time a Pakistani student was grilling some beef burgers another student put some bacon next to them on the grill.
            Don’t tilt the grill the Pakistani shouted.

          • Pubcrawler

            I no longer smoke, but I will still roll cigarettes for others who do. But that has nothing to do with whether Jesus was vegetarian or not, nor whether he instructed his followers to abstain from meat (which he obviously didn’t, otherwise he wouldn’t provide fish for them).

            The rest is you proselytising vegetarianism. Thanks, but I’m not interested.

          • dannybhoy

            I have two close relations who won’t eat anything that has eyes/ They’re of the Progressive persuasion. (Which I can’t really see the sense of incidentally. Might as well be Buddhist..)

            “Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.”
            Deuteronomy 12:23
            Which is why they drain off the blood..

          • Manfarang

            Most Buddhists are not vegetarian. I am talking about those in East Asia.
            (the western Buddhists see Buddhism through a protestant prism)
            I am glad to say vegetarianism is spreading in East Asia because of health concerns and the religion.

          • dannybhoy

            I should have said I meant the Progressive element. Some of the theology I hear is a million miles away from the certainties of Torah. More in line with eastern thought..
            http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda03.htm

          • Manfarang

            Torah.”The Heavens above and Earth below” (the Earth is flat)

          • dannybhoy

            It is in Norfolk..

          • Manfarang

            And in Norfolk a Turnip Taliban!
            We are back to that science v religion.

          • dannybhoy

            Not really. There can be no ultimate conflict between science and faith, because if Something or someone created the universe, then all the laws of physics must have their origin with the creator.
            I don’t think the ‘something’ can be impersonal because physical laws imply at the very least an intelligence of some kind, and if an intelligence why not a personality?
            There have been many scientists, astronomers and physicists who believe. The Scriptures are all about our relationship to God, not the makeup of life and the stuff of stars.
            S’wot I fink anyways.

          • Manfarang

            Buddhism doesn’t address the question does God exist.
            In the East people have other beliefs along with Buddhism. In Burma for example the Nats. Nearly every house in Thailand has a spirit house (animism) and in China, Tao and Confucianism.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes, it says that in the link.
            “The third reason the Buddha did not believe in a god is that the belief is not necessary. Some claim that the belief in a god is necessary in order to explain the origin of the universe. But this is not so. Science has very convincingly explained how the universe came into being without having to introduce the god-idea. Some claim that belief in god is necessary to have a happy, meaningful life. Again we can see that this is not so. There are millions of atheists and free-thinkers, not to mention many Buddhists, who live useful, happy and meaningful lives without belief in a god.”

            “The significance and purpose of following the Buddha is to attain perfection. If we can understand thoroughly our purpose in following the Buddha and feel confident that it is essential to follow the Buddha’s teaching, then we will tread a true path and learn the essence of Buddhism rather than being side-tracked or practising incorrectly.”
            http://www.buddhanet.net/cbp1_f2.htm

            So although life is ultimately meaningless, following the teachings of the Buddha helps us to make sense of it all…

          • Anton

            That is opposite to the facts. China was in East Asia when I last looked and, as China gradually becomes more affluent and the Chinese become more able to afford meat, their consumption of it is increasing. As would most people’s in those circumstances.

          • Manfarang

            Yes the rainforest is being cut down to grow soya as animal feed to export to China but I am pleased to say the authorities in mainland China have allowed a vegetarian society to operate and a growing number of Chinese are becoming vegetarian being concerned about their health. Shanghai has a lot of vegetarian restaurants now.(Communism was very anti-vegetarian) The Chinese have been makers of tofu for centuries. Sellers set up stalls next to the Chinese Buddhist temples.
            The Mahayana schools generally recommend a vegetarian diet, as some believe that the Buddha insisted that his followers should not eat the flesh of any sentient being.
            Outside of Mainland China among east Asians the vegetarian I-Kuan Tao movement is spreading.

          • Anton

            Communism might have been anti-vegetarian in principle but most people couldn’t afford met. What you are saying is really that as more Chinese are able to afford, and therefore eat, meat, growing numbers also actively decide not to. It is, as the New Testament says, a personal choice.

          • Manfarang

            The poorest country I have visited is Burma. I went there when it was socialist (a one party state) Now because it was poor was vegetarian food widely available? Absolutely not. Asian cuisine tends to mix meat and vegetables.
            Isn’t religion a personal choice?

          • Anton

            Where did I say it wasn’t?

            The Burmese had it better than the Chinese in regard to diet, it seems. Read Wild Swans.

          • Manfarang

            The “Three Bitter Years” . I don’t have to read a book about it I can talk to my relatives in China that lived through it all. In 1988 Burma was also in the grip of a famine. I remember the rice had black bits in it. ( the government would give the farmers less than the production costs for their rice) The people could no longer take it and rose up.

          • Pubcrawler

            He also clearly had no problem with fish.

          • dannybhoy

            No. nor me.
            Especially with chips and lashings of kosher vinegar..

          • Pubcrawler

            “There are some who claim Jesus was a vegetarian”

            Let them. Plenty of others dispute that.

          • Manfarang

            A visit to the slaughter house will give plenty of direction.

          • Pubcrawler

            That is a different argument.

          • Anton

            I helped repair a chainsaw at one, long ago, and enjoyed a large steak that night.

          • Anton

            On what basis do some claim Jesus was a vegetarian, please? He ate of the Passover lamb annually.

            Christians are free not to eat meat, but we are also free to.

          • Manfarang

            It goes something on the lines on the meaning of the word meat in Greek.
            I can tell you that in Thai the word for rice is used as a generic one for food so if you go into a food shop and say I want some rice they don’t know what you want.

          • Anton

            At the *very* least, He ate the Passover lamb annually.

            Calling Pubcrawler re the Greek…

          • Manfarang

            And some vegetarians occasionally eat meat when they are invited to a friends house but they still call themselves vegetarian.

          • Anton

            Fine, I can call myself a Test cricketer but it doesn’t mean I am one!

          • Cressida de Nova

            You can call yourself a Christian too. What makes you think you are one !

          • Anton

            Biblical criteria. In other words, the same reasons I say Jesus ate meat.

          • Pubcrawler

            Gimme a verse.

            If he means that the English word ‘meat’ as used in KJV et al (e.g. at John 4:8 for τροφὰς) formerly used to mean all foodstuffs, not just flesh, then yeah, it’s one of those ‘and?’ observations. It just means that such an English translation of John 4:8 can’t be used as proof that Jesus and his Disciples did eat flesh. Nor does it in any way prove the opposite.

          • dannybhoy

            The Jews were overwhelmingly meat, grain and fruit eaters. Except where God allowed pulses (for Daniel and co.)
            The meat sacrifices would not be wasted but go first to the priests and levites, and then the people…
            Perhaps eating meat was synonymous with holy events for Jews, Greeks and Romans?

          • Pubcrawler

            Indeed. Meat-eating was the norm (when available — not all had the wherewithall to eat it regularly); vegetarianism was unusual and therefore remarkable. Many of the arguments that I have seen for Jesus being vegetarian seem to be based on an absence of any explicit reference to him eating meat; that is, of course, a pretty weak case, and I would say that the opposite argument is stronger: had he not eaten meat, and had he instructed his followers not to eat meat, Scripture would report this.

          • Anton

            Many thanks Pubbers, but please re-address the request to Manfarang, as he is the one who claimed ( in a post timed 6.23pm on 3rd January 2017) that a Greek word in the NT commonly translated as meat actually suggests that Jesus was vegetarian.

          • Pubcrawler

            I think that’s the passage and translation issue that he had in mind. But then you never can quite tell with him, which is why I will refrain from chasing him down any more rabbit holes for now.

          • Anton

            Some of us would consider that a vegetarian diet is penalty enough…

          • Manfarang

            Some people don’t always keep the standards. I am sure you have heard people say, ” He’s not a Christian.” or “Well that (behavior) is not very Christian” of believers.
            However on December 25 I still had my Christmas dinner ( no meat in it of course) as did some Americans in the month before settle down to a Thanksgiving dinner with tofu.
            When Jesus lived there would have been vegetarians around. Indeed knowledge of Buddhism reached that region before the first century.
            The Druze of today believe in reincarnation.

          • Anton

            What has this to do with the fact that Jesus ate meat according to the Bible?

          • Manfarang

            13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

          • Anton

            Meaning: if my eating meat sacrificed to idols causes my brother in Christ to offend God by taking up idolatry then I shall not eat such meat in his presence. To understand this meaning, start at verse 8 of the passage (1 Corinthians 8).

            Meat-eating was so much the norm in ancient Israel, and regarded as one of life’s pleasures in its scriptures, that if Jesus were vegetarian it would have been commented on explicitly in the gospels – especially since it is recorded there that he was fond of eating and drinking with his disciples (although never to excess, of course). Then there is the Passover lamb which he would have been expected to partake of annually.

          • Manfarang

            You spilled blood, so you must take a gift to the Lord’s Holy Tent.
            In other words they ate what was ritually slaughtered (pork was out of the question of course) so what they ate is not what is in your local supermarket today. The question of vegetarianism clearly exercised early Christians.
            Thou salt not kill. I am not letting others do the killing for me.

          • Anton

            They ate meat routinely in their own homes. Sacrificial animals taken to the Temple were for the priests to eat. Ancient Israel was a meat-eating culture and the first Jewish Christians enjoyed it. They realised, though, that they would be proselytising among vegetarian cultures, hence the comments in the NT.

          • Manfarang

            The Jerusalem Council recommended (at least for Gentile Christians) abstention “from things strangled, and from blood”
            Although not vegetarian himself and vehemently against the idea that Christians must be vegetarians, Augustine nevertheless wrote that those Christians who “abstain both from flesh and from wine” are “without number”

          • Anton

            The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) was echoing the command in Mosaic Law not to eat meat of animals which had not been bled (Leviticus 3:17), ie ritual slaughter is required in which the throat is cut and the heart pumps out the blood. That the meat was to be eaten by the priests, that Jews generally were permitted meat, and were expected to eat it as part of the Passover, imply that the trace amounts of blood remaining in the meat are not of concern to God. (Otherwise God would be contradicting himself, which is a grave charge to lay.) This Mosaic regulation is itself an echo of Genesis 9:4, which is a command to all mankind that is still in force – for which reason I do not eat black pudding, for instance, which is a blood product.

            Augustine draws the correct conclusion from the Bible – Christians are free to eat meat or not as they wish. Therefore no Christian should tell another to eat meat or not to eat meat, although there are specific circumstances in which it is appropriate to abstain, as Paul explained. My own view of religions which require vegetarianism is that they are making a virtue out of an economic necessity.

          • Manfarang

            Jains have the highest per capita income in India.

          • Anton

            I am talking about the origins of those religions.

          • Manfarang

            In the historical Vedic religion, the predecessor of Hinduism, meat eating was not banned in principle.

          • Anton

            I don’t doubt it. I expect most people couldn’t afford meat and someone who wanted to be at the head of a mass movement elevated vegetarianism to a religious principle.

          • Manfarang

            In the Pali Canon, Buddha once explicitly refused suggestion by Devadatta to institute vegetarianism in the monks’ Vinaya.

          • Anton

            Good! But his successors? And it’s not the only major vege religion, is it?

  • len

    Jesus says; ” Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me”.(Revelation 3:20)
    This is the door of the Church!.
    Is Jesus allowed to enter what is being claimed as’ His Church’ or has the church (wittingly or not)left Jesus outside?.
    Do we need more theses or do we simply need to open the Church doors and let Christ in?.

    • Manfarang

      Vegetarian Massaman Curry at the ready with some green tea.

    • Dominic Stockford

      They haven’t left him outside, they have unceremoniously shoved him out and locked and barred the door.

  • ChaucerChronicle

    Your Grace

    He seems supportive of women priests.

    ‘The Standard-Transferable-Vote system advocated by the HR managers has been shaped and adopted in a way that is gender-biased: those who consistently vote ‘abstain’ against any female candidate for episcopacy are counted as ‘against’, making it almost impossible for any woman to secure a two-thirds majority of voters.’

    We are in a fierce culture war with the LGBTQBBCITV movement who will not be satisfied until a male-female Archbishop of York ‘marries’ a female-male Archbishop of Canterbury.

    If sex/gender is irrelevant to become a bishop, then why should a practising homosexual be relevant? Percy is not heading towards muscular Christianity.

    Does Percy think we will tolerate demonstrations of homosexuality in church and thereby risk sowing gender confusion in our children?

    Does he believe that we will allow a male-female transgdendered bloke to use our daughters’ toilets?

    Research on both sides of the Atlantic strongly suggests that men see the church as effeminate – women priests don’t attract men to church. Their voices do not carry ‘command-authority’.

    Through their sermons they sink to talking about relationships and singing songs such as ‘Jesus lover of my soul’.

    We need to attract men. The same research suggests that men and manly hymns attract men; when the men attend church their wives and children follow through.

    • Manfarang

      The AME church?

      • ChaucerChronicle

        We’ll fight until this wretched internal battle is concluded one way or the other (that’s my view).

        If only there was a man out there who prays between the hours of three and six in the morning; who can combine knowledge, conviction and soaring rhetoric to convert this country once more to a Christian nation.

        There is an old rabbinic saying: God visits the sons of men between three and six in the morning to see what they are up to.

        • Anton

          How many points do you get for “sleeping” as the answer?

    • David

      There is research too to support what you say. Swiss research work on how to pas on the faith to succeeding generations indicate that the effects of men passing on the faith to their children, as being far more effective than from only the women acting as role models.
      When the men attend church the family follows, and the children when they grow up, continue attending church.
      If only the women take the children, then when the children grow up, few of them continue with church.
      But more men attend churches led by men, than by women. Many men do not like a feminised church. So the key for passing on the faith to future generations is for men to be seen to lead with sub-leaders drawn from both sexes. This effect needs far more exposure amongst those who are genuinely seeking ways of promoting the faith.

    • John Campbell

      It was the fathers’ responsibility to teach the children. This is the pattern established by God and it therefore can not be bettered.

      Deut 4:9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, 10 especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’

      Deut 11:19 Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

      Deut 31:12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”

      We live in a godless society with Christianity challenged and marginalised at every turn. The archbishops and bishops have failed us. They are the ones given a public voice and who the public in turn, believers and unbelievers alike, expect to talk about the gospel, about Christ, about godly and ungodly legislation, about the consequences of an unrepentant parliament leading the people deeper and deeper in to Babylon.

      My prayer is for the gift of the spirit of repentance to fall on the house of bishops, for their public repentance to lead in turn to repentance from pulpit and pew resulting in the social gospel being expelled from the church, in the mass resignation of women bishops and clergy, in the calling of evil all things that God calls evil, and for bishops, clergy and laity to cease from forming God in their own image as the only way of accommodating their damnable theology.

      • 1642again

        Well said. It’s a repentance/change of people that is needed far more than a change of forms.

      • David

        Hear, hear – good words !

    • Rhoda

      This event may be of interest .
      27th May 2017 -a national gathering of Christian men at Stoke City football ground.

      http://www.wearemenunited.co.uk/

  • dannybhoy

    I think there’s a lot of repetitious chaff here among the good wheat..
    I still say that the New Testament sees the Body of Christ as an organic whole, and within that body are individuals and groups that perform the same functions as organs and glands in a biological body.
    In our nation there most definitely is a role for ordained clergy to feed,lead and guide their flocks. Bishops should be practical as well intellectual in their theology. They should teach, nourish, anoint and inspire, and lead by example.
    Abandon the outward appurtenances of bishop-hood and be willing to sacrifice themselves for the truth of the Gospel.
    The Anglican Church still has a role to play in the Body of Christ and our nation.
    Our responsibility is to pray for them, pray for revival and humbly and lovingly nudge and niggle them with messages of urgency for change.
    Let’s be frank; if we here are not prepared to do our part and contact people who could respond and change and exercise their positions of influence for Christ, WE are as much at fault as they are.

  • Don Benson

    I’ve had only the most fleeting look at these 95 ‘protests and proclamations, but my quick summary of them is that today’s bishops are light on enthusiasm and ability to communicate theology and spirituality but heavy on enthusiasm for a kind of pseudo management approach to their activity; and this attitude springs from a leadership which is consumed by management-speak and obsessed by numbers.

    It’s hard entirely to disagree with this, although it’s a generalisation that cannot be fair to every individual and in every circumstance. But, if and where it is true, it tells us of a church which has lost its vision of a sovereign and loving God, lost its priority to live and breathe the word of God (as found in the Bible), and lost its connection with the ordinary people within and outside the CofE who need to hear of Him and grow ever closer to him.

    For me, it is not a reformation that is needed (towards something new) so much as a repentance and a returning to what the CofE has always aspired to be. At a time when our bishops are contemplating a fundamental and disastrous step even further away from what we had, this could hardly be a more pivotal moment for all of us, whether or not we are bishops.

  • One the one hand I think there is much to like about what Martyn Percy says here (with the caveat that it is about 10x too long!)

    But what I think worries me is what is not said. Bishops are not supposed to simply be theological leaders. They are supposed to guard the faith “once for all delivered to the saints”.

    Case in point: Same-sex marriage. There has been a deafening silence from the bishops on this issue. Bishops should have been leading the way rather than, well, ignoring it. But I think Bishops should have not just been leading the way but in leading the way in declaring authoritatively and clearly what the teaching of the Scriptures actually is, and driving away false and erroneous doctrine.

    I don’t think Martyn Percy’s brand of doing theology is quite what the Bishops are supposed to be doing (see e.g. Martin Davie’s response to Percy about a year ago).

    I reckon one of the reasons the Bishops have retreated from being theological leaders to management is that actually the CofE is in a totally unworkable mess: different clergy believe all sorts of strange things – many of which are not in accord with either the Scriptures or the faith of the Anglican church as we have received it – and the Bishops haven’t lifted a finger because we’re a ‘broad church’. The clergy have been left to innovate on their own and now we’re in a situation where there is little unity other than institutional.

    Theology has to have a centre, that’s the point of it. It has to lead us to God, has to be derived from His self-revelation. Otherwise it’s not theology. i’m all for Bishops doing theology as they are supposed to, but given the state of the CofE at the moment that seems like an impossible dream and wishful thinking in the extreme.

    • David

      Yes the “Broad Church” idea became an excuse for bishops failing to exert theological discipline, so now all sorts of errors and heresies have multiplied. As you say there is little true unity around an agreed range of faith, leaving only an institutional unity, and a thin veneer of liturgical commonality. However good Biblically led churches still exist, preaching the gospel and doing good work at the base level.

  • not a machine

    just hope hes been using authentic hand made nails ,district building supervisor will have him if not.

    • chefofsinners

      I hope he hits his thumb with the hammer.

      • not a machine

        he does appear to be posing for a selfie ,most likely then

        • Pubcrawler

          He does not appear to be using any nails at all, save those of his didgits.

  • Arden Forester

    All this talk of the Reformation being 500 years old is all very well for continental Lutherans but has nothing much to do with England. Henry VIII had yet to be conferred with the title “Fidei defensor” by the Pope. This came in 1521 after Henry wrote his book “Defence of the Seven Sacraments”.

    Henry had no real “reformation”. He assumed supremacy of the Church. Something rather different I suggest. Trouble is lacklustre media commentary, from BBC to red tops, speaks of “protestantism” appearing rather than a break with Rome, which is what it was. Henry had no desire to see new theories emerge although he was vehemently against excessive indulgences and the commercialising of them.

    However, with the break with Rome, the Church in England was open to a variety of usurpers and revisionists being allowed to push ideas and this tendency continues to the present day. Nowhere in the Book of Common Prayer does the word “protestant” appear. The protestant notion really set into the English mind when the Dutch King Billy established it as a constitutional settlement.

    And had Henry had a healthy surviving son and heir from Catherine of Aragon, the “King’s Great Matter” would never have mattered.

    • Martin

      Arden

      But God intervened.

    • Proto-protestants aka Lollards had been dying for their faith in England long before Martin was a twinkle in Mr Luther’s eye and continued to do so well into Henry VIII’s reign. The Reformation in England was a people’s movement, and so it must be again.

    • Apparently, the word Protestant comes from the celebrated “Protest” read by the German princes at the Diet of Spires in 1529. A number of German princes used the religious revolt of Martin Luther to secure the political independence of their States. They supported Lutheranism as a great force amongst their people towards detaching them from former ties and suppressed the Catholic religion within their territories.

      The Decree of the Diet of Spires granted religious liberty to Lutheranism in the States of the German princes. It also demanded toleration for Catholics. The Lutheran princes protested that they would not grant toleration to Catholics. “Cuius regio, illius religio,” said these princes. (“Whoever is the ruler, his must be the religion.”) The German princes demanded the right to impose whatever religion they might please upon their people. Their “protest” was against any obligation to tolerate Catholics.

      The word “Protestant” therefore, according to its historical religious meaning, was born of a denial of freedom of conscience. Those who protested against liberty of worship for Catholics were termed “Protestants”..

      • Anton

        This is about the fourth theory of the origin of the word “protestant” that I have read. i’d love to get supporters of the various theories and a few decent historians together and see them thrash it out. Meanwhile, don’t take yours as certain.

        You are correct that some German princes declared themselves protestant simply in order to seize Catholic church lands within their jurisdiction. What this tale leaves out is the mass movement of peasants behind Luther.

        PS I think you will find that the phrase in question is cuius regio, eius religio.

        • Dominic Stockford

          It clearly also avoid mention of he who was behind it all, the Holy Spirit.

          • The Holy Spirit was behind the Peasants Revolt? The French Revolution? The Russian Revolution?

        • “What this narrative leaves out is the mass movement of peasants behind Luther.”

          Think France 1789 and Russia 1917.

          • Anton

            The Peasants’ Revolt led to an anarchy which Luther himself condemned, but that is because they did not know anything about how to change things. They understood that things needed changing alright.

          • Luther had the insight to see the religious unrest that prevailed in Germany, and the political ambitions of the German princes. Germany was a politico-religious volcano, and Luther had but to give passionate contagious expression to recriminations against Rome and to aspirations for political independence already widespread. He stirred up a hurricane of religious hatred that played upon political and national feeling and enkindled the whole of Germany against both the Emperor and the Pope. Luther the reformer became Luther the revolutionary. This was not a sign of a purely religious and spiritual mission received from God.

          • Anton

            Only somebody who had never taken the trouble to read Luther’s theological output – regardless of agreement with it or not – could write such wanton inaccuracies.

          • CliveM

            Hmm. What should also be pointed out, is that in both these cases they had a legitimate complaint.

          • Not disputed, Clive. And if you support bloody and violent revolution as the way to address such complaints, so be it.

          • CliveM

            Did I say that HJ?

            Actually I can see a justification to revolt in a violent manner if peaceful routes are closed to you.

            However in both these cases it’s what happened afterwards, after the toppling of authority, that went badly wrong.

            Or do you believe it is never legitimate to revolt against secular authority?

          • Ah, now there’s a question. When is violent armed struggle against the state justified. There was a time when Jack agreed with “liberation theology”. No more. What does scripture teach?

            Luther himself argued that work was the chief duty on earth; the duty of the peasants was farm labour and the duty of the ruling classes was upholding the peace. He did not support the Peasant War because it broke the peace, an evil he thought greater than the evils the peasants were rebelling against, and he encouraged the nobility to swiftly and violently take out the rebelling peasants. Later, he then criticised the ruling classes for their merciless suppression of the insurrection.

          • CliveM

            Of course Bonhoffer started off by believing that violence against the State was wrong.

            But then along came Hitler.

          • As Jack understands it, Bonhoffer was also strongly conflicted by his participation in plots against Hitler.

          • CliveM

            Indeed he was.

            Always be suspicious of a person who finds violence easy. Doing the right thing, doesn’t mean it’s the easy thing.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Good point. The right thing is never easy.

          • Anton

            What about nonviolent resistance to secular authority? A man called Gene Sharp made a study of successful nonviolent resistance movements and distilled what they had in common into a how-to-peaceably-overthrow-a-tyrant handbook. He pointed out that mass nonviolent resistance makes a nation uncontrollable. He says that one should never resort to violence because violence is the government’s strongest suit. There will be martyrs to the cause, of course, but with sufficient resolution and organisation the people cannot lose.

    • The Explorer

      Where do figures like Wycliffe and Tyndale fit in this picture?

      • Dominic Stockford

        Wycliffe is rightly called the Morning Star of the Reformation.

        • Anton

          Yes, and what a star he was!

    • 1642again

      Counter-factual. It happened. Why? Perhaps it was Providence?

      Cranmer was Henry’s choice as ABC. Henry authorised the placing of the English Bible in every church, something that turbo-charged the Reformation, and his son and heir was brought up a Protestant and placed in the hands of a Protestant Regency Council. Henry was no fool despite his many failings.

      • Arden Forester

        I wrote nothing that was “counter-factual”. And neither did you. It’s worth remembering that in England, Church and State have been intertwined since early times. Archbishops of Canterbury before Henry’s time saw it as proper, based on custom, for bishops and priors to sit in Parliament. Somehow England has managed change well and revolution has appeared unattractive to the vast majority.

        • 1642again

          I get sick and tired of RC’s coming on any forum and gloating over problems among Protestants. It’s hardly Christian is it?

          I likewise getting angry about priggish Protestants gloating over problems within the RC church, Orthodox, CoE etc an saying they are insufficiently ‘pure’. That’s not Christian either.

          All churches have problems because they are all human constructs reaching out to God. A little more humility and remembrance of that fact would help us all.

          As for my response to you point. The Reformation in England happened the way it did for particular circumstances. It would still have happened anyway in my view even if Catherine had produced a son, probably in a more bloody way. The RC church was in desperate need of Reformation and should have embraced Luther – much harm would have been avoided, but it was so arrogant that it could not bear to hear the truth spoken. It later absorbed many of the lessons which is why it is no longer the church it was but much damage could have been avoided.

          To say “if only one thing was different it wouldn’t have happened” is counter-factual” because we cannot know what would have transpired. I suspect Providence, but as ever there’s no evidence, so it can be no more than a suspicion.

          I agree with you about England managing change well since 1659, especially 1688.

          • “All churches have problems because they are all human constructs reaching out to God.”

            Really?

            Christ Himself said, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Anyone who says that the Church as Christ established it failed and that men had to leave it, and begin new Churches, contradicts Christ.

            Yet that is what Luther did. Saying that the forces of evil had prevailed against the Catholic Church, he left it to start a new Church of his own. That meant that Christ could not keep His promise to protect the Church against such radical corruption. That there were abuses amongst Catholics, both clergy and laity, in Luther’s time, no one could deny. Christ Himself predicted such abuses when He said that His Church would be like a net holding good and bad fish:

            “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and caught fish of every kind. When it was full, the men pulled it ashore. Then they sat down and sorted the good fish into containers, but threw the bad away.…”

            There were plenty of bad fish inside the net at the time of the Reformation. But bad fish do not mean a bad net. Luther made the mistake was in condemning the net as well as the bad fish, and going off to make a net of his own. If he really wanted a reformation, he should have stayed inside the net guaranteed by Christ, and spent his energies turning the bad fish into good ones.

            “The RC church was in desperate need of Reformation and should have embraced Luther … “

            One of the great opponents of Martin Luther was Sir Thomas More, in England. Thomas More was as aware of the sad state of affairs in the Church as Luther, but he did not blame the Church for her lax members.

            A reformation was necessary. There were many abuses to be corrected. But Luther did not introduce a movement of reform. He made prevalent abuses an excuse to leave the Church altogether, instead of remaining in it and trying to effect change. The crisis in Luther’s life came with the publication of the Papal Bull of Indulgences, granted to those who would subscribe towards the building of St. Peter’s in Rome. He made that an excuse for an attack on the whole penitential system of the Church, and on all ecclesiastical authority.

            Luther had failed in his own life to live up to the ideals of holiness the Catholic Church had put before him. To attain peace of mind he convinced himself that man is totally depraved, that he has no freewill, that all man’s works are evil, and that God does not expect a man to be anything but depraved. Then he invented the consoling gospel that man is saved by faith only, and not by works. Belief, and not good behaviour, was the secret of salvation henceforth taught by Martin Luther.

            Luther appealed to the ambition and spirit of independence amongst the German princes, urging revolt against the Emperor. He flattered their cupidity and pride by advising them to despoil the Church of its property in their domains, and to take upon themselves the control of the doctrine and morals of their subjects.

          • 1642again

            Here we go.

            The True Church is not coterminus with the RC church. I know some RC fanatics believe so and that anyone outside, not matter how faithful, is a heretic and therefore damned.

            The True Church is in the hearts of all true Christians. Believe your fantasies about the falsity of the Reformation but it took off because it spoke Truth to the corrupt RCC at the time. A church which burnt people who disagreed with it (your Sainted Thomas More was a great burner and torturer), a church which operated a protection racket in the scandal of indulgences, a church which wouldn’t let lay people read the Bible in their native tongue. Just the tip of a corrupt iceberg.

            Luther was a man, an imperfect man, but he was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit to restore the RCC to truth. It rejected and persecuted him and he appealed to those who would support him. I regret much of what was lost in the Reformation, but celebrate that it survived and recognise that much, most, of the blame for the damage done lay within the RCC and its response to Luther. Luther also triggered a process by which many of the church’s abuses were purged but by them the lives lost had caused a hardening of attitudes and what was lost cannot be restored this side of Heaven.

            Please leave denominational grudges behind and pursue the deeper and wider true faith.

          • And you are above “grudges”? Really?

            “A church which burnt people who disagreed with it (your Sainted Thomas More was a great burner and torturer), a church which operated a protection racket in the scandal of indulgences, a church which wouldn’t let lay people read the Bible in their native tongue.”

            Really? Perhaps you can provide some evidence supporting your accusations against Sir Thomas More.

            “Luther was a man, an imperfect man, but he was clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit to restore the RCC to truth.”

            Luther had no right to start a new Church of his own under the pretence of reform. He should have remained in the true Church and laboured to reform lax Catholics within it. You wash a plate that needs cleansing; you do not smash it. The one founder of the Catholic Church remained, and He was undoubtedly holy, for He was Jesus Christ Himself.

            Luther began his career as a “reformer” from 1517 onwards. His filthy book, “Hans Worst,” was written in 1541. His “Table Talk” is full of unseemly and lascivious expressions and sentiments uttered after he had set up as a reformer.

            Bullinger, the Swiss Protestant reformer, wrote of Luther:

            “Alas, it is as clear as daylight and undeniable that no one has ever written more vulgarly, more coarsely, more unbecomingly, in matters of faith, and Christian modesty, and in all serious matters, than Luther. There are writings by Luther so muddy, so swinish, so vulgar and coarse, which would not be excused in a shepherd of pigs rather than in a shepherd of souls.”

            Preaching at Wittenberg, after he had left the Catholic Church, Luther said:

            “If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out – chase yourself to the Jews.”

            Inspired by the Holy Spirit? One thinks not.

            Dean W. R. Inge, of St. Paul’s, London, undoubtedly a Protestant who takes no pains to conceal his antipathy towards the Catholic Church, had this to say about Luther:
            “Luther, then, was a reformer who was not a philosopher or theologian. He was reactionary in several ways, and the Humanists, who at first had hopes of him, soon discovered that there could be very little sympathy between them. By exalting faith and disparaging works, and by using “Glaube,” with its intellectual associations, he attached more importance to correct belief than even the Catholics had done. He wished to extend no tolerance to the Anabaptists and other sectaries, and had in principle no objection to persecution. His attitude during the Peasants’ Revolt remains a blot upon his career, though it must be admitted that his position was extraordinarily difficult. The whole future of his life’s work seemed to depend on the successful vindication of their authority by the princes. Lastly, in spite of the strongly ethical character of his teaching, there was a grossness in his treatment of sexual questions which has reacted unfavorably on the morals of the German people.”

          • IanCad

            “If Moses should attempt to intimidate you with his stupid Ten Commandments, tell him right out – chase yourself to the Jews.”

            At the root of this regrettable statement is Luther’s unquestionable anti-Semitism. At base possibly, a fear of circumcision – a ritual he doubtless thought essential were he to adopt the theology of his more learned contemporary, Andreas Carlstadt; An advocate for observing the Seventh Day Sabbath as a reform necessary to the professed harmony with the Word.

          • 1642again

            Yes, I have no grudges against modern Catholics at all, or against today’s RCC as you well know. The facts I cited about Thomas More, indulgence and the prohibition of the publication of the Bible in English are well known. The RCC is very different today from what it was, or perhaps you wish to bring back the days of burning, indulgences and publishing the Bible only in Latin? You sem to regret their passing You certainly seem to have a great hatred of the Reformation, its leaders and its descendants.

            If you were Luther would you have delivered yourself into the hands of the Inquisition? Look what they did to Tyndale and others? He was effectively driven out by the RCC itself.

            I do not seek to eulogise his achievement. He was a great man, but flawed like all, but of great courage and tenacity.

            As for his supposed lack of right to found a new church I suspect you believe that all churches, even those founded before Rome, are invalid unless subject to its authority? The Greek Orthodox Church for instance, What about the Copts and Syriacs too?

            There’s no point continuing this. You are the RCC equivalent of some of the Protestant extremists I have criticised on here, an inveterate ‘beam and mote’ person never able to say anything that isn’t critical of non-RCC positions.

            Strangely, when under assault from both sides I am heartened, like Solon who cast his shield over both parties despite neither liking his lack of willingness to side with one side, but rather looking at the longer term good of all.

          • My, my, you are full of judgement despite attempts to feign “balance”.

            ” … perhaps you wish to bring back the days of burning, indulgences and publishing the Bible only in Latin? You se[e]m to regret their passing “

            Not at all. Heresy was tantamount to treason “back then” and it was not the Church who burnt heretics. Jack has already acknowledged there was a great abuse of indulgences, that was well recognised, but the penitential doctrine behind them, that Luther attacked, was not at fault. As for the bible being in Latin, it was mainly objections to ideologically driven translations that Rome objected to.

            “You certainly seem to have a great hatred of the Reformation, its leaders and its descendants.”

            Hatred? How judgemental of you.

            The Church needed reform. What it got was the Reformation. Luther, who was not much of a theologian, rejected some long-taught beliefs and offered a few novelties of his own fashioning. His counterparts elsewhere in Europe, such as Calvin and the English Reformers, did likewise. The result was a fissiparous Protestantism, the members of which were unable to agree among themselves on many doctrines and practices but could agree to oppose “the Pope of Rome.”

            Protestantism was grounded on false principles, among them the private interpretation of Scripture. Once you accept the principle that there is no human-connected authority to which you must give obedience of mind and not just of action, you’re free to use private interpretation at will. It isn’t limited to Scripture. It extends to the whole of religion.

            One man’s private interpretation gets reinterpreted by another man, who thinks he has achieved the final and pure understanding, only to be confounded by his successors, who claim that he claimed too much or too little. There is no stopping point, but there is a kind of law of religious entropy at work, and the tendency is toward simplification. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob becomes the God of the Deists and then the God of the philosophers.

            It is no accident that a straight line can be drawn from Protestantism through the Enlightenment to today’s secularism. By its inner nature, Protestantism is unstable. It was and is a hodgepodge. Much in it is true, but that truth pre-existed in Catholicism. To that truth were superadded partial truths and even untruths, and that made the construct unstable.

            The Anglican Church has broken off from the Catholic Church – and looks like its about to fragment. The Methodist Church broke off from the Anglican. The Holiness churches broke off from the Methodist, and those churches have seen further splits. Such splits will not end, because there is a logic to further splitting. “That they all may be one” (John 17:21) has become “That they all may be multitudinous—and often at each other’s throats.” The acrimony directed at Rome also, with a few modifications, can be directed at Westminster or Geneva or Wittenberg.

            None of this is to deny that many good and even holy people have come from or remain in Protestantism, nor is it to deny the invaluable work done by Protestant scholars, theologians, social thinkers, and everyday lay people. Most clouds have silver linings, but some eyes are capable of seeing only the silver linings, not the clouds.

          • 1642again

            “Protestantism was founded on false principles, among them the private interpretation of Scripture.”

            There speaks the authoritarian, the power that would deny the direct relationship between Christ and the human heart and soul, and insist that only an ‘authorised’ expert can mediate between God and Man. When Jesus said “Behold I stand and at the door and knock” he meant direct into the human heart, not via courier or envoy. There is no intermediary between God and Man – Jesus is our advocate with the Father. There won’t be a priest standing between us and God when we are judged.

            As for the entropy within Protestantism, that is the regrettable flip-side of the making human beings taking direct responsibility for their sins and for responding to God’s offer of Grace. Giving people freedom of choice includes the freedom to make more errors, but isn’t that what God has done in giving Mankind Freewill, so who is the Papacy to intrude?

            As for Luther’s attack on the doctrine of penitence, he’s right. The only penitence is within the heart accepting it’s error and pleading God for forgiveness. It’s not a human intermediary’s place to pronounce forgiveness, just to remind the sinner that Jesus has promised forgiveness to the truly penitent.

            The RCC is not the only valid Apostolic Church and it would be a better servant of God if it gave up ts temporal and spiritual ambitions of supremacy. They have caused immense damage to Christendom, not least the ham-stringing of the Eastern Churches and betrayal of Constantinople to Islam.

          • “There speaks the authoritarian, the power that would deny the direct relationship between Christ and the human heart and soul … “

            That’s rather a leap from criticising a private interpretation of scripture, isn’t it? Do you agree with the modernist reinterpretations of scripture that deem homosexuality to be acceptable, claiming current Christian sexual morality is based on false understandings?

            “When Jesus said “Behold I stand and at the door and knock” he meant direct into the human heart, not via courier or envoy. There is no intermediary between God and Man – Jesus is our advocate with the Father. There won’t be a priest standing between us and God when we are judged.”

            And this conflates our initial conversion/justification- an action of Holy Spirit and grace – with ongoing sanctification and the infusion of saving grace through the sacraments.

            “The only penitence is within the heart accepting it’s error and pleading God for forgiveness.”

            No Catholic would deny this.

            “It’s not a human intermediary’s place to pronounce forgiveness, just to remind the sinner that Jesus has promised forgiveness to the truly penitent.”

            So when Jesus breathed on the Apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld”, was He mistaken?

            “Giving people freedom of choice includes the freedom to make more errors, but isn’t that what God has done in giving Mankind Freewill, so who is the Papacy to intrude?”

            The Church is God’s representative on earth, appointed to carry His authority until His return. We have free will, of course, though many Protestants would disagree with you. We can follow His Church or not. There is such a thing as Truth. As Jesus said to the disciples: “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who sent me.”

          • 1642again

            The difference is that you believe that the RCC is the only true Apostolic church and that any one outside it is not a true Christian. Protestants,,Orthodox and other denominations do not accept the RCC’s claims but I would not deny that it is part of the true church, just not all of it. The RCC’s imperial and exclusive ambitions, which you seem to support, have caused immense harm.

            As for your point about modernist revisionism of teaching on homosexuality,, adultery etc, I have no truck with them because Scripture clearly denounces them. The COE’s problems arise when it departs from scripture just as did the RCC’s.

          • “The difference is that you believe that the RCC is the only true Apostolic church and that any one outside it is not a true Christian.”

            That’s not actually the teaching of the Catholic Church.

            “As for your point about modernist revisionism of teaching on homosexuality,, adultery etc, I have no truck with them because Scripture clearly denounces them.”
            And therein is the fault-line of Protestantism. Everyman is his own Pope who can authoritatively claim his interpretation of scripture is accurate. Who’s to say the modernists are wrong in their understanding? You?

          • 1642again

            Scripture. We are never going to agree, just cause anger and division. I did not want to rehearse all the arguments, but you seem determined to refight old battles daily. It’s such a shame.

          • “Scripture.”

            That’s not an answer to the point about authoritative interpretation of scripture and everyone being their own Pope.

            Jack’s not interested in “old battles”. The doctrinal and theological differences between the Catholic Church and the various Protestant denominations cannot be conveniently glossed over, even in these “ecumenical” times.

          • William Lewis

            Was it not your own pope that pursuaded you to submit your mind and actions to the Pope/Magisterium? If not, then who?

          • Scripture. And we both know the author.

          • William Lewis

            How did your “personal pope” manage to interpret the scripture that supposedly pointed to the RCC as the one, true church?

          • bluedog

            ‘The RCC’s imperial and exclusive ambitions, which you seem to support, have caused immense harm.’

            But is the a church that is not imperial and exclusive? The established churches are spiritual corporations, and it was the RCC that developed a corporate hierarchy and modus operandi that is the the blueprint for just about every subsequent corporation.

          • 1642again

            I think there are. The COE certainly doesn’t proclaim imperial spiritual supremacy. The other things are mere offices and forms, others are available.

          • bluedog

            The CofE presents a certain brand of a certain religion that claims to offer the only route to salvation (and rightly so). In its structure the CofE almost exactly replicates the RCC, although the Synod is an important innovation that could be seen as a precursor to an Annual General Meeting.

          • 1642again

            Can’t disagree with that. Perhaps the COE could be regarded as a Mutual with a temporarily absent President with a Golden Share who wrote the Articles before departing?

          • Anton

            Leave entropy to me, Jack!

          • Anna

            “To that truth were superadded partial truths and even untruths, and that made the construct unstable.”

            This is a perfect description of the Roman Catholic Church. It is iron mixed with clay. The fact that it has endured proves nothing – so have Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

            As I wrote earlier, the reformers restored the church to a great extent to its scriptural foundations. The worst elements of paganism were stripped away and the doctrine was purified; but the restoration was only partial. We understand this when we study the Bible.

            The main weakness, I believe, is that protestant churches failed to develop proper leadership structures based on the NT, relying rather on the RCC model or other equally flawed models, which were not necessarily biblical. The biblical roles of the bishops and deacons were only partially replicated, while the separate ministries of prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are hardly understood in Christian churches. Yet Paul wrote that these ministries are essential both for equipping the church for works of service and for unity in the faith.

            “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

          • dannybhoy

            “The main weakness, I believe, is that protestant churches failed to develop proper leadership structures based on the NT, relying rather on the RCC model or other equally flawed models, which were not necessarily biblical. The biblical roles of the bishops and deacons were only partially replicated, while the separate ministries of prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are hardly understood in Christian churches. Yet Paul wrote that these ministries are essential both for equipping the church for works of service and for unity in the faith.

            “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)”
            I agree Anna.
            I would also add that because few people could read the increasing availability of the Scriptures meant that men got busy formulating coherent doctrines (with very mixed results), but eventually freedoms broke out the Gospel was preached to great effect in the nation.
            Personally I would rather have the slight theological differences in understanding than a dogmatic approach. That we failed to adopt the NT understanding of oversight (bishops etc) is something that can and should be put right.
            Which is why I would like to see a purging and revival in the Anglican Church, because personally I think it’s best placed to fill the void.

          • William Lewis

            Quite so Danny Boy.

          • Anna

            “Personally I would rather have the slight theological differences in understanding than a dogmatic approach”.

            Some of these differences would not have caused splits if Christians had heeded Paul’s instruction not to get into disputes on relatively minor issues, and had been willing to accommodate certain differences of opinion. That said, the existence of various denominations are not always a bad thing as long as there are no major differences on doctrinal matters – because there are all sorts of people, and what suits one will not suit another. What matters more is how we treat others.

          • Anton

            The existence of denominations is disastrous. The world looks on and is, rightly, utterly unimpressed. but denominations exist because hierarchies diverged. A nonhierarchical model of church simply could not give rise to denominations no matter how harsh the falling-out: you would get two congregations in the same town, not two denominations in the same continent. Which is, I believe, one of the reasons why the original church model was nonhierarchical.

          • Anna

            Broadly, I agree. My own Orthodox relatives are highly critical of Protestants for this reason, besides the lax moral standards in western societies, which they attribute to ‘weaknesses’ in the Catholic and Protestant beliefs.

            However, at a personal level, while I can find no major fault in the doctrine of most protestant churches, and I am willing to embrace them as my brothers and sisters, I feel more spiritually fulfilled worshipping in evangelical than in the more ‘mainstream churches’. Others, of course, who might prefer the more traditional styles of worship.

          • Anton

            The Orthodox have a mistaken view that the nation and the church in it are co-terminous, when in fact the church is called out of the nation.

          • Anna

            I have to agree that many Orthodox Christians think along those lines. The fact is that families, nations and cultures are transformed when the gospel has been preached among them over centuries, and a significant proportion of community members attend church, even when – as is often the case – a significant number of them may not actually be born again.

          • “As I wrote earlier, the reformers restored the church to a great extent to its scriptural foundations.”
            The visible, organised Church existed before the New Testament and was built on the teachings of the Apostles.

          • Anna

            Agreed. Yet Acts 20:29, Philippians 3:1 and 2 Peter 1:12 indicate why the apostles took the trouble to write these things down – so that later generations of Christians would not be led astray.

            I am sure you will agree that their teachings – and written down in the NT – cannot be disregarded by later generations of so-called popes or church leaders. So 1 Corinthians 10:14 and 1 John 5:21 are still valid. The fact that the RCC has ignored these teachings show that it is not the true church.

          • The Catholic Church has not ignored these teachings. Only a spiritually deluded person would believe so.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Not just spiritually deluded.

          • Anna

            Deluded? Kindly explain.
            Why do popes bow in such reverence and kiss statues supposedly of Virgin Mary? Please read Jeremiah 44:19 and Isaiah 44:17-18, and explain why it is so difficult for Catholics to understand what they mean. Ask any Jewish person whether having these statues in your churches violates the first and second commandments.

            “The Catholic Church has not ignored these teachings.”
            No, their bishops just happen to know better than the apostles. How is this different from modern liberal bishops re-interpreting scripture today to redefine marriage?

          • William Lewis

            “Once you accept the principle that there is no human-connected authority to which you must give obedience of mind and not just of action, you’re free to use private interpretation at will.”

            So true, and this is why we are given the Councillor, so that we do not have to submit our minds to flawed and evil human interpretations of authority who, for example, demand money from the poor to give to the rich, on pain of eternal damnation.

            “There is no stopping point, but there is a kind of law of religious entropy at work, and the tendency is toward simplification. “

            Indeed, this tendency is towards the early church, by stripping away the layers of religion that had accreted over the centuries. A process that really got going with the Reformation.

          • “So true, and this is why we are given the Councillor … “

            The Spirit of Truth (the Counsellor) was promised to the Apostles. Our Lord never ordered his Apostles to write; He did command them to teach and to preach. Also He to Whom all power was given in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28-18) promised to give them the Holy Spirit (John 14-26) and to be with them Himself till the end of the world (Mat. 28-20).

            Christ founded a teaching Church, which existed before any of the New Testament books were written.

            Rom. 10-17: So then faith cometh by Hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

            Matt. 28-19: Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

            Mark. 16-20: And they went forth, and preached everywhere the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

            Mark 16-15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

            Our Lord commanded his Apostles to teach all things whatsoever He had commanded; (Matt. 28-20); His Church must necessarily teach everything; (John 14-26); however, the Bible itself teaches that the Bible does not contain all of Our Lord’s doctrines. The New Testament itself teaches that it does not contain all that Our Lord did or, consequently, all that He taught.

            John 20-30: And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, etc.

            John 21-25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

            How would it have been possible for second century Christians to practice Our Lord’s religion, if private interpretation of an unavailable and only partial account of Christ’s teaching were indispensable?

            The Church has carefully conserved this “word of mouth” teaching by historical records called Tradition. The Bible teaches that many Christian truths were to be handed down by word of mouth.

            2 Thes. 2-15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

            2 Tim. 2-2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

            Hence not only Scripture but other sources of information must be consulted to get the whole of Christ’s teaching.

          • William Lewis

            I am not advocating they we act alone. I do not say that the Holy Spirit will equip one person with all knowledge and wisdom necessary to act alone. It’s clear. We are all part of a body, with different roles to play, and must cooperate with God and with each other. Biblical knowledge is a key part of this, whether imparted by word of mouth or words on a page, but the Counsellor is for everyone.

          • More was not, of course, a liberal and was a persecutor of heretics while Lord Chancellor from 1529 to 1532. The number of heretics burned at the stake under More’s chancellorship is generally agreed to have been six, with three cases in which More was himself involved directly. Obviously, we rightly regard killing heretics today as an injustice. In those days, it was tantamount to treason. More put a high priority on the protection of the Church against heretical enemies and the social and political havoc they caused.

          • Anton

            So it could be treason again if a counter-Reformation took off here?

          • That would depend on the government, not the Church.

          • Anton

            Yeah, sure. De Heretico Comburendo which sanctioned the execution of heretics in England in 1400 was passed, in its opening phrase, “on the advice of the prelates and clergy of… England”.

            What do the words “washing your hands” mean to you, Jack?

          • Let’s have the full text and the context:

            Whereas, it is shown to our sovereign lord the king on the advice of the prelates and clergy of his realm of England in this present Parliament, that although the Catholic faith builded upon Christ, and by his apostles and the Holy Church, sufficiently determined, declared, and approved, hath been hitherto by good and holy and most noble progenitors and predecessors of our sovereign lord the king itl the said realm amongst all the realms of the world most devoutly observed, and the Church of England by his said most noble progenitors and ancestors, to the honor of God and the whole realm aforesaid, laudably endowed and in her rights and liberties sustained, without that the same faith or the said church was hurt or grievously oppressed, or else perturbed by any perverse doctrine or wicked, heretical, or erroneous opinions. Yet, nevertheless, divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect, of the faith of the sacraments of the church, and the authority of the same damnably thinking and against the law of God and of the Church usurping the office of preaching, do perversely and maliciously in divers places within the said realm, under the color of dissembled holiness, preach and teach these days openly and privily divers new doctrines, and wicked heretical and erroneous opinions contrary to the same faith and blessed determinations of the Holy Church, and of such sect and wicked doctrine and opinions they make unlawful conventicles and confederacies, they hold and exercise schools, they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people, and as such they may excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection, and make great strife and division among the people, and other enormities horrible to he heard daily do perpetrate and commit subversion of the said catholic faith and doctrine of the Holy Church, in diminution of divine Worship, and also in destruction of the estate, rights, and liberties of the said Church of England; by which sect and wicked and false preachings, doctrines, and opinions of the said false and perverse people, not only most greatest peril of the sou1s, hut also many more other hurts, slanders, and perils, which God prohibit, might come to this realm, unless it he the more plentifully and speedily holpen by the King’s majesty in this behalf; especially since the diocesans of the said realm cannot by their jurisdiction spiritual, without aid of the said royal majesty, sufficiently correct the said false and perverse people, nor refrain their malice, because the said false and perverse people do go from diocese to diocese and will not appear before the said diocesans, but the same diocesans and their jurisdiction spiritual, and the keys of the church with the censures of the same, do utterly condemn and despise; and so their wicked preachings and doctrines do from day to day continue and exercise to the utter destruction of all order and rule of right and reason.

            Heresy was seen to be causing civil unrest, insurrection and sedition, and the Church did not have the capability of containing its spread. The Oldcastle Revolt, in 1413, was a Lollard uprising directed against the Catholic Church and the English King, Henry V.

          • Anton

            It is a disgrace that you are not willing to disavow the execution of persons whom you consider heretics, ie those who take a different view of Christianity from the Roman Catholic church.

            Would you or would you not support, in any context, the judicial punishment of entirely peaceable persons who claimed to be Christian yet differed from Rome about the Christian faith?

            Please include a clear Yes or No in any answer.

            By the way, De Heretic Comburendo was a decade BEFORE the Oldcastle march on London, and quite possibly responsible for it.

          • Jack hasn’t said he agrees with executing heretics, now has he? Besides, they were executed by the State because heresy was considered to be sedition and treason. He has simply provided the historical context. You deliberately partially quoted the opening lines of De Heretic Comburendo to suggest the Church instigated it to protect its own interests. That is false.

            Jack is aware of the dates of the Oakcastle insurrection. It was more than a “march”! Oldcastle organized an insurrection which included an attempted kidnapping of the King.

          • Anton

            Jack hasn’t said he agrees with executing heretics, now has he?

            No, and he hasn’t said that he disagrees either. Would you do me the favour of answering my question, which in case you have a short memory is as follows: Would you or would you not support, in any context, the judicial punishment of entirely peaceable persons who claimed to be Christian yet differed from Rome about the Christian faith?

          • Of course Jack would not support the execution of “entirely peaceable persons who claimed to be Christian yet differed from Rome about the Christian faith.”

          • Anton

            Good! thank you.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Anton or 1642 are not entirely peace loving Christian persons. I don’t suppose that would be reason enough to burn them at the stake….maybe just a small wet smouldering grass fire might be in order. I believe for health and safety reasons you have to bring along hoses now…not like in the good old days !

          • Anton

            Better than crying “peace, when there is no peace”!

          • Small wet smouldering faggots.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Tsk….wicked Jack:)

          • Cressida de Nova

            What a ridiculous and insulting question !

          • Catholics have horns and breath fire, Cressie. You should know this.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Sorry..I keep forgetting!

          • Anton

            Why?

          • 1642again

            You won’t get a straight answer I’m afraid. He’ll just shift the,point of attack or cut-and-paste something from a Jesuit anti-Protestant handbook.

          • Cressida de Nova

            What’s a modern Catholic? Is there such a thing as a modern Protestant?

          • 1642again

            Perhaps one who no longer believes in burning non Catholic Christians but rather that they are Christians too, just of another mansion, perhaps one who doesn’t believe in indulgences, perhaps one who doesn’t venerate images and bones as being efficacious for salvation? You know, like most Catholics in Britain today??

          • William Lewis

            God uses flawed people all the time.

          • Well, of course He does. We’re all flawed. He also “uses” the sinful and permits all sorts of grave evils. Judas was instrumental in Christ’s crucifixion.

          • William Lewis

            So pointing out Luther’s flaws doesn’t really get us anywhere.

          • Luther was not merely flawed. He was theologically unsound, being driven by self doubt about his salvation.

            Jack has never denied the Catholic Church is made up of flawed individuals, including sinful popes and clerics. However, her teachings are not flawed.

          • William Lewis

            God used Luther (and others) to free Christendom from the iniquitous hegemony of flawed and sinful popes and clerics of the self-proclaimed, one, true church.

          • And you “know” this, how?

          • William Lewis

            I know that God used the Reformation to free Christians from some of the iniquities and false doctrines of the RCC because the biblical Body of Christ exists within Protestantism.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You should bother to find out a few facts about RC before you indulge in an onslaught.

            Catholics don’t believe that anyone who is not a member of the Catholic Church will be denied salvation.That has been pointed out countless times on this blog along with the falsity of other standard fables such as the worship of statues, corpses,levitating nuns,wicked convent girls etc. Catholicism is an ancient religion with traditions going back thousands of years …It is eclectic and is comprised of people from all the diverse cultures on the planet. The main precepts must be adhered to by all, regardless of status gender or race.However there is room for individual cultural expressions of worship provided that they are compatible with the Church’s teachings

            From reading this blog I do believe however that some of the Protestant cults believe that salvation is only for Christians. That… I would say is fanaticism.

            Your concluding sentence is pertinent to you as well Heed your own advice.

          • 1642again

            Ah I see your’re the sort of RC who I once encountered at university who when asked if he were a Christian replied, “No, I’m a Catholic.”

            Fortunately most in my experience are not like you but just Christians looking through a glass darkly and trying to walk the steep path to home.

            And now you raise the spectre of universalism which poses the question of “why be a Christian if other religions lead to God” and which clearly contradicts your statement that Protestants are heretics. But if there are non-Christian paths to God surely Protestants paths are equally valid, or is Protestantism uniquely not a true faith?

            Before answering please explain away Jesus’ unambiguous statement that “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father but by me.”

          • dannybhoy

            Jack, we only have to review (Catholic) Church history to know that is has failed in as many -if not more areas, because of its assertion that it is the only true Church founded by our Lord. First chapter of Revelation..
            “9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

            There were other churches, not founded by Peter, not resided over by Peter nor written about in Revelation by Peter. No, the Lord chose the apostle John..
            I will not join in bashing Catholics because it is against the Holy Spirit’s desire for the unity of true believers united in Christ Jesus.

          • The failures of the Church were those of sinful men, not Church doctrine. Christ founded and established His Church, not Peter.

          • dannybhoy

            And that must then include those seven churches of Asia; not so?

          • len

            That not what you have been saying.
            Are you become more Protestant as the light gets brighter?.

          • 1642again

            Well said.

          • dannybhoy

            I like Jack, respect his learning and try to concentrate on the areas of concord rather than discord.

          • 1642again

            He’s a real hater of the Reformation and is utterly negative about Protestants. Those who don’t want to extend the hand of fellowship can’t complain when people argue back.

          • dannybhoy

            We will all answer for what we did and didn’t do. I hope the Lord will look at me and perhaps say,
            “You made a hash of a lot of things. You didn’t really understand half of what you posited as true and you were very inconsistent in your devotion. But behind it all you had a loving and forgiving heart…”
            I’d settle for that.

          • Cressida de Nova

            No Catholic likes the Reformation. Why would they?It was destructive and caused unnecessary suffering for hundreds of years.. Catholics are strongly discouraged from hating anyone ever. Jack does not hate. Jack is a Catholic and can never accept the heretical nature of Protestantism and its origins. This does not mean he does not have very close friendships with Protestants Jews or Atheists. He does . Most of us do.However, he will always remain steadfast in his belief that the Catholic Church is the only ‘true’ Christian Church for all the reasons that he expounds on this blog in the defense of the faith.Falling on deaf ears of course as this is a strongly biased Protestant blog.
            Jack is liked and respected by quite a few regular Protestant communicants her. He is a brave human being who is undergoing enormous physical suffering which is unlikely to abate and you 1642 should count yourself lucky to share the acquaintanceship of such a good person and a real Christian

          • 1642again

            I have not been attacking the RC church, even defending some of its achievement, but have been merely defending Protestantism from his relentless and unprovoked attacks. If you don’t want conflict with Protestants why come on an avowedly Anglican site and attack the Reformation? I don’t go on RC sites and attack Catholics. Double standards I’m afraid.

          • Cressida de Nova

            All creeds and political persuasions are welcome to express an opinion on this blog providing that it above the emoji level of communication.You are here to defend what you believe in. The Catholics and Jews add the spice …that slight frisson of superiority essential to any interesting mix. I would like to see an Islamic presence as well . It would be interesting to hear from an erudite Muslim.I think you are new to this. Conflict is part of the communication. As the Inspector would say they shoot real bullets on here. Sometimes there are jokes and nice exchanges as well….However this is not a blog for the faint hearted or those who wish to pussy foot around issues. As a Catholic I come here to support Jack and the others even though we don’t always agree on everything. There is conflict between the Catholics as well. A few Protestants here present some very interesting arguments worth reading. Mad characters such as the cheeky Chef of Sinners with his seductive ringlets are very entertaining too. I am voting for him for the Protestant of the Year award 2017. Sorry Len !

          • 1642again

            A suggestion. Why not spend time of secular sites trying to win over atheists, agnostics and others to Christ rather than coming on a website espousing traditional Anglicanism to make narrow sectarian points and stir up division? How is what you are doing advancing the faith of Christ here?

            For instance a few days Conservative Woman was subject to a vile concerted attack by aggressive atheists. Most of the Christian posters fled the field and the one who fought back was overwhelmed. Why not lend your weight there? I was elsewhere arguing with a bunch of nasty neo-nazis and didn’t see what had happened until it was over. Or is this just your safe space where you won’t come across real haters of the faith and where you can play little games without real confrontation and threat?

            I’m a new poster on here indeed because recently there have been a couple of articles upon which I felt compelled to speak. But I have followed the site back from the early days and one of the things that has deterred me from commenting previously is the sectarian grievance mongers who dominate the comment boards.

            BTW I spend most of my on line time on secular sites advancing the cause of the faith, albeit subtly because people won’t be reached to or hectored these days, and because I have a life to lead.

          • CliveM

            It’s actually not difficult to avoid getting sucked into the proddy v teig debate that takes place here. I’ve never seen anything resolved or mind changed by it.

          • 1642again

            I know. I agree and regret it but to have people still calling Protestants heretics in this day and age, and spending all their energy attacking the Reformation etc. It shows they’ve learnt nothing.

          • Cressida de Nova

            subtly…self deception I think.
            Thank you for your suggestion but I think you are more suited to dealing with the neo nazis than I.

          • 1642again

            My. my.

          • dannybhoy

            ” I would like to see an Islamic presence as well . It would be interesting to hear from an erudite Muslim.”
            I would too, but I don’t think they would last long.

          • Rhoda

            Luther would not have been able to “flatter their cupidity” if the Roman Catholic church had not acquired so much wealth. Beautiful as some of the art and buildings are, they do not fit with the gospel message or the outworking of the gospel as described in James 1.

          • len

            The ONLY people who believe that the church is built on Peter are members of the RCC.This is a false doctrine, made up to’ authenticate’ the Roman Church after its original ‘authentication’ (the Donation of Constantine) was proved to be a forgery.A clumsy forgery at that!.the RCC has little scruples about how it’ interprets ‘scripture.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donation_of_Constantine

            The true church is built on the revelation that Christ is the Son of God.

          • All Apostolic Churches believe the Church is built on Peter and his successors. They just disagree on Papal authority.

          • len

            A church built on Peter would be a very shaky affair. Perhaps that explains everything?

          • Anna

            While it is true that there are many Catholics who are good and sincere – like yourself, as far as I can tell from your posts – the RCC is not the church that Christ promised to build. It had corrupted the gospel, and become a political organisation, an extension of the Roman empire, that used religion to gain ungodly control over the souls of men.

            Although most protestant denominations have their imperfections, the RCC has too many elements of paganism such as idolatry, veneration of human beings and it propounds ideas that are totally alien to biblical culture and heritage. It could no more be reformed than the Mormon or Jehovah Witness churches can be in this age; it was necessary for people to separate themselves form such a wicked organisation, controlled by a leadership who in spirit and theology had nothing in common with the early apostles.

            What Luther and other reformers essentially did was to restore the church, to a great extent, to its scriptural foundations – it is unlikely that the popes would have been open to such drastic measures, that would have stripped them of all the ungodly authority, not to mention the wealth, that they possessed.

          • len

            Well said!.

          • Anna

            Thank you.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Crap!

          • 1642again

            Great argument that. Truly erudite.

          • Martin

            HJ

            But Peter is hardly a rock, he wobbled shortly after and Paul had to reprimand him for wobbling. The rock is the confession and the Christ, not a mere man.

        • Anton

          The key to how England has managed that is Common Law.

          • IanCad

            Excellent point Anton. Goes a long way toward explaining how such a strange institution could have lasted all these years. And the end is not yet!

    • Dominic Stockford

      You are right, the reformation began in England well before then.

      • Anton

        Yes, long live Lollardy! I was passing through Lutterworth last night.

    • not a machine

      interesting stuff ,the book of common prayer is wonderful , but will now put on my reading list “Defense of the seven sacraments”

    • Cressida de Nova

      Your responses are always informative and interesting Arden. Good to see you posting here again.

      • Arden Forester

        Thank you.

  • William Lewis

    “Jesus is the master builder who will build his church on the rock of confessors and confessions. Bishops, as chief pastor-theologians play a special (i.e., set-apart) role in serving as authorized representatives of Jesus, charged with preserving the integrity of the church’s confessions.”

    Thanks, but not thanks. Didn’t we try to get out of this kind of thing 500 years ago?

    This thingy is unnecessarily wordy and complicated and reads much like a management manual *. Something which it appears to recommend less of.

    * Though I must confess to not having read it all.

    • 1642again

      Don’t worry it was basically saying a couple of things 95 times.

      • William Lewis

        Yes. Doesn’t bode well.

        • Merchantman

          Yes talk is cheap but Jesus Christ’s message had/has a cost. Ridicule and more from the world is one we must be prepared to pay.

  • Mike Stallard

    Le bon Dieu n’avait que dix!

    • 1642again

      Much truth there. It’s the front line that counts.

      • Anton

        It is lay Christians who are in the front line – people like the McArthurs of Ashers Bakery, and street preachers.

        • 1642again

          Yes, and parish clergy too.

    • not a machine

      priests have to go through some of the things parishioners go through and some that are unique perspectives of their vocation ,however this older initiation which I have seen in some ceremonies is very beautiful ,yet some find it cumbersome ,but yes agree with your list which was pointed out to me some years ago ,by a member of the clergy who thought most highly of what our for fathers were trying to define in this ancient meaning

    • Dominic Stockford

      Looking to Geneva, and what the reformers put in place, it wasn’t what can simply become a ‘ritual of repeated prayer’ on a daily basis, it was the Word preached on a daily basis that was at the heart of their work. I rather sympathise with the requirement placed upon people of those days within the canton to attend at least on Sunday, and preferably on Wednesdays as well.

      • You “sympathise with a requirement to attend church? Numbers must be low at your services.
        “For years people were obliged to report in minute detail every word spoken against him and the doctrine of predestination, with which he identified himself to such a degree that to speak against the dogma became as dangerous as to speak against him. The poor were dragged to prisons, scourged, reviled, obliged to walk in the streets barefoot wearing a penitential habit and carrying a torch to expiate for what Calvin arbitrarily called blasphemies.”
        (J.B. Galiffe,, Notices genealogiques sur les familles genévoises, Genève: 1836)

        Multiple death sentences are also reported by this same Protestant scholar. Describing a short period of Calvin’s rule he says, “One counts 30 executions of men and 28 of women, subdivided by method of death: 13 persons hanged, 10 beheaded, 55 quartered, 35 burned alive after being tortured.”

        Reporting the religious persecutions of Calvin, author Jean Tet affirms that “from 1542 to 1546, which was the softer period of his government, we count 58 capital executions, 76 banishments and 900 imprisonments.”

  • len

    There should be a constant ongoing movement to discard and separate all the’ theology of man’ from the Word of God. Otherwise all these man made theologies, dogmas, and traditions, accrue and like a tiny snowball rolling downhill getting larger and larger until it reaches such a monstrous size that it will crush all that stand in its way.

    • David

      Yes. Returning to the Word is a task for each generation.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Semper Reformanda – I wonder who coined that phrase!

  • CliveM

    Boy when this writer has a hobby horse, he’s certainly not shy in going on and on and on about it. I did read each of the 95 thesis (eventually), but if I’m honest after a while they merged into a great, big muddy mess.

    Like someone else we know, he took a long time and a lot of words to say relatively little.

    I wonder if Welbys reforms are really the biggest crisis to face the CofE today? The CofE is struggling (like so many Churches) and has done so for a long time. ‘Managerial ‘ reforms aren’t the cause (although it is legitimate to wonder at what part they play in the solution), but unless and until the root causes are addressed, all of this is just fluff.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    Says Percy: 18. A note to the church from the Buddha?

    In Chapter 1:6 of The Everlasting Man, entitled The Demons and the Philosophers, G.K.Chesterton starts a section:

    The next great example I shall take of the princely sage is Gautama, the great Lord Buddha.

    then in the last of five paragraphs makes the observation

    Indeed the Lord of Compassion seems to pity people for living rather than for dying. For the rest, an intelligent Buddhist wrote ‘the explanation of popular Chinese and Japanese Buddhism is that it is not Buddhism.’ That has doubtless ceased to be a mere philosophy, but only by becoming a mere mythology. One thing is certain; it has never become anything remotely resembling what we call a Church.

  • Anna

    The first qualification of a bishop is that they must agree with Jesus on everything. Sadly, too many modern bishops think they know better.

    • not a machine

      Yes that aspect has puzzled me for some time , I don’t mind having doubts , but in fairness by the time you are appointed a bishop , I expect you to believe and love in Jesus Christ ,if you don’t it must cause terrible problems

      • dannybhoy

        But think of all that pomp and circumstance my man! The twirls, the nods and bows, the flashes of bright coloured robes as you trip down the catwalk- Oops! Aisle.
        I meant aisle..
        Honestly…

        • not a machine

          Yes no point in denying one expects a bishop to have power and authority and that involves distinction ,I don’t have a problem with power and authority .I suppose you could have a group that forgets is origins and looks with disdain upon its story .I have my own thoughts on what is proper and what helps us to receive the holy spirit , but we appear to be in a funny era where we laugh at for fathers and there way and view of life and I cant help but ponder if it is vanity .You see part of my mind is pre internet and mobile phone and I know that this constant interaction ,is different ,it is a different me ,and seems in some ways to be less of me ,less of me because I am interacting for hours on end.

          • dannybhoy

            Do you laugh at our forefathers?
            I don’t.
            But I do agree with “You see part of my mind is pre internet and mobile phone and I know that this constant interaction ,is different ,it is a different me ,and seems in some ways to be less of me ,less of me because I am interacting for hours on end.”
            That seems very perceptive to me. We communicate far more with others but in a somewhat disembodied way. We try to get across what we are really like as a person, but we can’t. So in following your logic we communicate but we don’t commune together.

          • not a machine

            Well yes been thinking about for many years ,its bit more behavioral ,way of living that will and can only bare bad fruit. Its anti logic I hope ,but quite difficult to overcome the seductions of systems management .
            I don’t think God is a computer program ,but we are running more of our lives as one .quite if there is a moment when some sort of AI ,starts to run humans as cheap robots ,that er should be recycled when they cant do the work ,is one vison of where this logic in the economy may lead.

          • dannybhoy

            Again I find myself agreeing with you. Technology is changing our behaviour, our ability to concentrate and our boredom threshold.
            I have a book called “The Big Disconnect” by Catherine Steiner-Adair, and she is studying the effects on children especially.
            One might say that if this trend continues people will gradually lose their ability to interact directly and emotionally with people and the real world and instead increasingly live in a virtual world. Our range of emotional reactions will probably shrink to the most basic..

          • not a machine

            Yes that’s part of it ,who is your master and guide in this new environment

          • dannybhoy

            We venture towards an Orwellian form of 1984.
            News becomes digitised and books disappear (Fahrenheit 451) We become bombarded with information so that we struggle to make sense of it, we become snowed under and paralysed. Our children are born into this and just accept it as normal.
            Yes de-humanisation could be on the way, but not everywhere. Also we reckon without the Almighty’s plans for this world. That’s the real key.

          • not a machine

            Yes if the metaphorical scroll is to be rolled up ,one might expect for closing arguments between man and god ,man having gained the powers of god ,but not the dimension of love that god gave in mercy

          • dannybhoy

            Again God gave us a biological body, with sentience, intelligence and emotions.
            We are fearfully and wonderfully made. It may be overstretching it to ascribe these changes to the enemy of our souls, but then maybe not.
            Part of the joy of worship and the sensory awareness of the Holy Spirit in a meeting is that we emotionally respond. Sometimes the sense of His presence can be almost overwhelming. This is how we have been designed by our Maker and I find it wonderful.

          • 1642again

            Happens in institutions and companies all the time. It’s called ‘producer capture’ where the interests of those running it take precedence over what the organisation was originally set up to do. I had to sort a couple out where it’s happened and it’s rife in government, quangos, churches, charities etc.

          • dannybhoy

            Part of the human condition, and as long as we accept that it happens and read the signs, we should be able to correct it.
            But then there’s that other problem.. inertia.

          • 1642again

            Yes. The problem is that inertia stems from the fact that the people at the top have prospered because the system worked for them and therefore don’t see the problem with it. People who challenge them are therefore unwelcome and ignored/suppressed/ persecuted/burnt (depending on particular circumstances).

            It usually takes a severe external shock to break the logjam of inertia to enable new leaders/thinkers to take charge. Sometimes the logjam is too great and total collapse arrives.

          • not a machine

            producer capture sounds like a concept to me wanting a better definition ….traducer rapture ?

        • 1642again

          The pay checks, the staff, the press interviews, the conferences…

          • Anton

            The palace…

          • 1642again

            I remember one vicar we had who, when I asked her what she thought of out two Bishops, spoke highly of one and only said of the other that he liked his duties at the House of Lords!

          • Anton

            I tread lightly on the subject of Establishment here out of respect for the blog owner, but I’m sure you can infer my views.

      • Anton

        Not necessarily in this life.

  • CliveM

    Another criticism, this isn’t about a new reformation, this is more pointless navel gazing by the CofE (or at least an influential member of it).

    Isn’t this one of the biggest problems it faces, to much of the time is spent speaking to itself, in a selfish, self absorbed manner and not enough time speaking (or preaching if you will) to the public at large.

    If there is to be a new thesis, this is the one they should choose.

    • Anton

      If the CoE wants to present a public face, it should vocally support street preachers who get dragged through the courts for reading Bible verses, persons who get sacked for mentioning Christ at work, etc. I want to see Welby, wearing full kit, repeat in public the words that at least one of these street preachers has uttered and challenge the police to arrest him. I want to see him put some church money to the legal defence of these people. I want to see him asking feminists what ‘choice’ an aborted foetus ever had.

      • CliveM

        Well I think you’re agreeing with my central point!

        • Anton

          If there is heat in my reply, it wasn’t at you!

          • CliveM

            Didn’t think their was, more robust then that :0)

    • carl jacobs

      this isn’t about a new reformation, this is more pointless navel gazing

      That’s because these 95 Theses are about process and not substance. Their principle focus is to elevate the Bishop into an innovator of Theology. There isn’t anything here about what the Bishop is supposed to believe. Perhaps because process is theology to the modern mind.

      • CliveM

        Interestingly for a person who goes on about the lack of ‘serious ‘ theology in the CofE, there is precious little in his endless list of theses.

  • James M

    The C of E might be healthier if it took the trouble to ensure that its clergy all believed all of what the Creed says. It is ridiculous, and far worse than merely ridiculous, to have vicars who don’t believe in (say) the Resurrection of Christ. If clergy do not believe, but retain their parishes and cures, they are thieves, frauds, and liars – as is the Church that inflicts them on Christians. Is that the sort of person whom the C of E thinks fit to be in the clergy, and to be ministers of God’s grace ? It is a long time since C. S. Lewis remarked on the oddity of a layman finding out that he believes more than his vicar. A Church of unbelieving clergy is not equipped to preach a Gospel it does not believe.

    From 2002: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1403106/One-third-of-clergy-do-not-believe-in-the-Resurrection.html

    The late Dr Jenkins’ much-words about the Resurrection are, as usual, misunderstood, but that does not change the overall gist of the article, which, for the most part, is a dire one.

    • David

      Couldn’t agree more ! As a committed faithful Anglican I am so frustrated at the refusal of the Bishops to enforce discipline, if necessary sacking the impostors, the heterodox, the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Bishops have taken the soft easy route for so long the cracks are now widening into gaping fissures.

      • not a machine

        How do you make religious courts ,have authority without all the human rights stuff ?

        • carl jacobs

          All that “human rights stuff” is dependent upon God for its existence. In the absence of divine authority, it is totally unobservable. Without God, there are no rights.

          • Anton

            Even with God I can find no human rights in the Bible. This frequently self-contradictory notion is not the reason why people should treat each other well.

            If we have human rights then God is the ultimate violator of them – or will be (hell). God is real and God is just. Ergo, no such thing as human rights.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Indeed, we have duties, not rights.

          • not a machine

            Ah but is the not the case that rights enable duties to be carried out ? That is a fascinating argument you have defined though ,will ponder where my gratitude and joy fits in ..

          • Martin

            NAM

            No.

          • not a machine

            It is the season of panto …..oh …But grateful for reply

          • Anton

            We do indeed, but both are legalistic and the faith is about grace.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Do we not have a duty to love God and our neighbour?

          • Anton

            Yes. We have many duties, supremely those. But duty is still a legalistic concept whereas the gospel is about grace. We are facilitated to love god and our neighbour.

          • Martin

            Anton

            Doing our duty gains us nothing, for it is our duty. Our salvation is entirely grace.

          • Anton

            Yes; and our sanctification.

        • David

          How the hell do I know ? Ask a ecclesiastical lawyer !

          • not a machine

            I don’t think I have encountered one of those …

          • Anton

            The concept of canon law is both hilarious and tragic given that the gospel is about grace set in contrast to law.

          • David

            All organisations need operating guidelines. But the concept of “canon law” is, I suspect a throwback to the enormous powers of the separate Church Courts, but hey, I’m not claiming any expertise on this.

          • CliveM

            Also, I would have thought, a reflection of its status as the spiritual arm of the state.

          • David

            Yes, ultimately harking back to the days of Constantine.

    • not a machine

      we only have the assessment of oaths and lies ? and questions the rest I ponder is Gods

    • Anton

      The whole of that survey is shocking.

  • Shadrach Fire

    It is sad that he has made a pigs ear of writing this. Very much jumbled up and much repetition. I feel he could have said what was needed in 24 points.
    It is true that the CofE is in a mess but they would be in more of a mess if they tried to follow this.
    The church needs anointed clergy, not vocational conscripts. The power of the Holly Spirit needs to be upon each and every one, preaching the whole of scripture as written.

  • David

    Most people drive in even large nails using a two pound hammer. This is more than sufficient for anyone with averagely strong arms. So the picture of, presumably, the author, wielding a four or five pound lump hammer, better used for smashing up things like concrete, it being far too unwieldily for repeatedly delivering accurate blows onto a narrow nail’s head is symptomatic of the whole approach of this article.
    The piece is beyond verbose, being repetitious and hugely wordy, yet it deals with what are really, just a few rather vital points. Usually I find that it is the liberal-left that says little using many words; genuine conservatives often enjoy the knack of offering truths in a pithily economic way.
    I hope that the quality of the articles for the rest of 2017 improves after this low.

    • Pubcrawler
      • dannybhoy

        Avi?

    • IanCad

      Certainly a good hammer if the intention is to break down the door. A 22oz hammer is the ideal weapon for rough framing – up to 20d commons.

      • David

        I drive in nails using the same 1.5 llb geologists hammer I asked for as a 15 years old boy. The toffee is used for glazing, the two lumps are hardly ever used as they are just too clumsy and a claw is useful for extracting nails, although my short crowbar is best. It’s also a very handy weapon !

      • not a machine

        I suppose hes written a book and not given much thought to the drama , for a start notice wants protecting from elements ,but I think I would chose large head copper tacks and estwing 15oz ultra ,hand drills are so undignified on such ancient doors……

    • len

      Using a lump hammer to drive in a nail is more liable to injure the user than anyone else!.
      Perhaps their is a moral there somewhere?.

      • David

        I agree. Whoever selected this picture is not used to hitting nails. You need the right tool for each job – as usual !

    • The author is on the “liberal-left” when it comes to the moral teachings of the Church.

      • bluedog

        Glory be. Who’d of thunk it.

    • chefofsinners

      It’s been photoshopped. In the original his hood was up and he was holding a sickle.

      • David

        Ahhh !
        Thank you for revealing the layers !

    • I suspect the verbosity is due to the perceived need to nail up a full 95 theses, instead of settling for half a dozen really good uns, and inviting the rest of us to suggest others if we wanted to, and/or to debate the half dozen chosen.

      • David

        Verbal diarrhea is an Anglican tendency, mainly with the theologically liberal and politically left of centre. Good ideas can often be expressed in just a few words. Winston Churchill’s rule of write it only on half a side of A4 holds good.

  • bluedog

    His Grace’s communicants with deep pockets will be interested to know that a leaf of the Gutenberg Bible comes up for sale on 11th January 2017.

    http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/gutenberg-newton,-a.-edward.-a-noble-fragment-b-100-c-55e483085e

    • chefofsinners

      I’ve already got one.

      • bluedog

        Apols. Didn’t mean to waste your time.

        • carl jacobs

          He means he has a leaf. From a Maple Tree. Not a page from the Gutenberg Bible. The leaf is dead now. It’s all dried out and brown. He has put it in a little glass case so that he may properly offer it veneration. Be not faithless but beleaf.

          • Oh dear, oh, dear ….

          • David

            Can I join your “oh, dear” team ?

          • Manfarang

            Bet he has the syrup too.

          • Anton

            I’d as lief do that!

        • chefofsinners

          • bluedog

            Excellent footage, CoS, and in remarkably good condition too. Was unaware that 14th century technology was so advanced. One learns something new every day.

  • Manfarang

    India’s top court banned politicians from using religion and caste to win votes, weeks ahead of crucial state polls where such affiliations dominate campaigns. Imagine the UK Supreme Court banning using class!

    • Anton

      Deciding whether a campaigning politician has done that should be entertaining!

  • IanCad

    Well, I finally ploughed through both declarations.

    Luther was a very brave man. In the age of the rack, the branding iron, and the flames, he stood firm. Did he get it all right? No! No! No! I can do no better than to paraphrase Wylie who stated: “We cannot expect anyone to wake from a slumber of Twelve Hundred years in darkness, and to have all their wits about them”

    As to Dr. Percy’s efforts; The hammers; touched on a few comments down, perhaps offer some solution, or at least an alternative. The good doctor has far too much time on his hands. Time that would be far better spent using hammers, scrapers, paintbrushes, in the performance of maintenance on our crumbling church buildings.

    • Anton

      Ah, Wylie. Not always historically accurate but what a superb writer!

      • CliveM

        Other than Jilly Cooper, is their anyone you haven’t read?

        Also, how do you find the time?

        • Anton

          You’ve answered your own question. The point about using time wisely is to know who NOT to read.

          • CliveM

            I haven’t read Jilly Cooper either, however I still don’t find the time to read a tenth of what I’d like to.
            I don’t think it’s as easy as you say!!

          • Anton

            No TV helps.

          • CliveM

            Being married and having kids doesn’t help either.

            Not that I etc………!

    • CliveM

      “Well, I finally ploughed through both declarations.”

      Brave man.

      • dannybhoy

        He wuz bored..

  • Anton

    Vacancy for Nigel Farage as our man in Brussels?!

    • bluedog

      Joke? Nige is an attack dog who doesn’t negotiate but insults instead. Hard to think of anyone worse to manage an intelligent withdrawal from the EU.

      • CliveM

        Yes agreed.

      • Anton

        You’d rather have a walkover negotiating on our behalf?

        • bluedog

          The British Cabinet or a sub-committee thereof will define the parameters of the negotiations with the EU. Farage is a one-man band who has consistently failed to work collegiately despite his undoubted talents. Witness his bizarre attempts to become British ambassador to the Trump administration on the strength of meeting Trump a couple of times. Farage is uncontrollable, and could not be trusted to implement British government policy.

          • Anton

            I don’t want him to implement British government policy. I’d be delighted for him to implement his policy!

          • bluedog

            Another pint and a ciggy?

          • Anton

            Imposing pints rather than litres, definitely.

  • Anton

    18. A note to the church from the Buddha? “Wake up”.

    Is this irony by Percy, given which of Jesus Christ and Siddhartha Gautama is alive today?

    • Manfarang

      The Shakya clan, the descendants of the Buddha still live in Nepal and Northern India.

  • chiaramonti

    Don’t expect too much from the bishops. As John Fisher put it, “The fort is betrayed even by them that should have defended it.”

  • I remember the intercessions in church as a child. We were asked to pray for the King and the Royal Family, for peace, and for any parishioner who had died in the preceding week along with any couple who were getting married in the following week.
    That was it.
    Now they seem to go rambling on for longer than the sermon, covering everything that you can possibly imagine from the war in Syria to refugees, from racism to homophobia, the list seems endless and is most certainly politically correct. We must pray for those suffering from Islamophobia, but nothing about the thousands of Christians being killed around the world. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
    But this is the modern Church, it’s totally lost sight of its objectives of preaching Christianity and trying to secure converts.

    • Martin

      EP

      Bit late to pray for someone who has died.

      • 1642again

        That’s a heartless thing to say.

        • Martin

          I fail to see how it is heartless. The dead are dead and can no longer be prayed for.

          • 1642again

            Had you not thought the bereaved relatives might be there? It’s not exactly a Gospel of Love you subscribe to is it?

          • Martin

            How does it help the bereaved, to give the impression that there is still hope for the dead when there isn’t?

          • 1642again

            Unbelievable. You remember their loss and pray for the comfort of the bereaved. Have you had your compassion circuits removed?

          • DSERIES

            As Martin said at the beginning of his article Protestants were protestors….. What were the protestors protesting about ? This isn’t a case of not comforting the bereaved. It is about revealed truth. My wife visited her dying Aunt hoping for a final opportunity to speak of the love of Christ and the hope of eternal life offered to all who would believe. As she gently tried to discuss the Saviour’s redeeming sacrifice, she received the following rebuttal . ” Name. Don’t preach “. On a previous occasion she had offered to read from a book of poems that had been written by a friend’s daughter………a daughter who had died 7 years earlier from cancer at the age of just 33 years of age.( The Aunt declined that offer.) I will never forget that young woman’s funeral. We sang Blessed be Your Name…….You give and take away but still I choose to say……as the tears flowed. Her parents continue to grieve but find comfort in the fact their daughterHAD placed her trust in Jesus.

          • Martin

            Of course you pray for the bereaved, but you cannot pray for the dead, they are beyond our prayers, their judgement is sealed.

          • 1642again

            Which is what I said.

            However, the Bible is ambiguous as to whether we are judged straight after death or at the end of time. Readings can be produced to argue either way. If the latter then prayers can not be said to be wasted because is any genuine prayer a waste?

            Jesus was more concerned that we find salvation by our faith in this life and all these things that have wound up theologians and people such as you are really matters indifferent or adiaphora, and people should not argue over them because we cannot and do not need to know.

          • Martin

            I’m afraid that it is irrelevant whether judgement is delayed, there is no further salvation after death. If God has not raised us to life in this life we will not be raised in the next.

            And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
            (Hebrews 9:27-28 [ESV])

          • 1642again

            As ever you haven’t answered the point I was making. No point continuing.

          • Martin

            You were answered.

          • Tony Phillips

            From the Authorised Version:

            [40] Now under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law. Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain.
            [41] All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid,
            [42] Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him that the sin committed might wholly be put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to pass for the sins of those that were slain.
            [43] And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
            [44] For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
            [45] And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.
            (2 Maccabees, chapter 12)

          • Martin

            Tony

            Maccabees is not part of Scripture, it is Apocrypha.

          • Tony Phillips

            Now don’t be silly. (1) The vast majority of Christians accept 1 and 2 Maccabees as scripture. (2) They’re included in the AV and used in the BCP. (3) And regardless of scriptural status (which begs the question of who decides what’s “scripture”), it’s an historical record that shows that prayer for the dead was considered quite normal among these pre-Christian Jews. And of course the practice continued into the Christian era and up to the present day, EXCEPT among a small number of post-Reformation Christians, who came up with a number of other doctrinal oddities (such as the notion that God created most people with the express intention of condemning them to hell).

          • Martin

            Tony

            I’d not accept that the vast majority of Christians accept that 1&2 Maccabees are Scripture. I’ve never had them included in any Bible I’ve had.

            They’ve never been included in any AV I’ve had & the 39 Articles excludes them from the canon.

            The Church, from earliest times has known what is canon and for the Old Testament the people of Israel, who never accepted Maccabees as God’s word. And hence, it doesn’t show that they accepted prayers for the dead. Nor was it ever a Christian practice.

            Those who are condemned to Hell are so condemned by their deeds.

      • I disagree. You can pray for their souls.

        • IanCad

          Dust and The Spirit becomes a soul. No soul once you’re dead. We can pray to God for Him to have mercy on the departed when the Judgement comes.
          To contend that the soul does not die is to tread the path to spiritualism.

          • I’m no theologian, but I seem to remember the phrase “Let us pray for the souls of our dear departed . . . “.

          • IanCad

            Certainly, that is a kind prayer, but it does give legs to the notion of the immortality of the soul and, thusly, the belief in Purgatory, and something inconsistent with biblical teaching. Entering the Abrahamic faith through Greek philosophers it serves to meld Christianity with other religions, most who – if not all – claim that we shall not surely die.

          • You’re getting way out of my depth, but I seem to remember the phrase from the (too many) funerals of different denominations that I’ve attended over the past few years.

          • DSERIES

            This response illustrates only too well what Martin is writing about…I would go further. Since we rarely get to listen to bishops but regularly listen to curates, vicars and lay preachers etc etc …it is all of these groups that need to have a sound grasp of theology and doctrine. Without such people the “sheep ” will not be fed and will be “swayed by every wind of teaching “

          • Martin

            The Bible only gives one ruling office in the Church, that of multiple elder/overseer in each local church. There is no hierarchy, such as the CoE has, in the Bible.

          • DSERIES

            Totally agree.

          • Martin

            Ian

            A belief in the immortality of the soul is not necessarily the precursor to a belief in purgatory. You can believe in the former without believing in the latter.

          • IanCad

            Martin,
            True, but the provenance of both is from Paganism and Hellenistic mythology.

          • Martin

            Ian

            The immortality of the soul is very much a biblical position.

          • IanCad

            I think Martin, that you will have a very hard time trying to demonstrate scriptural teaching in support of the IOS doctrine. Other than the roots mentioned in my prior comments, the error was propagated by Augustine (Hippo) and picked up by the Reform Churches through the writings of Calvin.
            It gives support to Satan’s earliest mischief: “You will not surely die.”

          • Martin

            Ian

            I don’t have a hard time in the Old Testament:

            … before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
            (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7 [ESV])

            And, of course Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in Heaven. If you think that only applies to the saved, Jesus pictured the rich man in torment in the parable. Of course we also see the resurrection of the body applied to all, the wicked being raised to judgement in Revelation.

          • IanCad

            We’re quite far apart here Martin. It is the fag end of the thread so I’ll be brief.
            The spirit and the soul are not the same.
            The thief will be in Heaven at the Resurrection. Not now!
            You are correct; The tale of Dives and Lazarus is exactly that – a parable.
            The wicked and the just will not be together. The just in Paradise; the wicked destroyed in the lake of Fire; they will be no more.

          • Martin

            Ian

            That spirit and soul are not the same is disputed.
            The thief is told what his location will be on that day.
            A parable may be expected to be accurate. Lazarus and the rich man are not together.
            We are not told that those thrown into the lake of fire are no more, quite the opposite:

            and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
            (Revelation of John 20:10 [ESV])

            And the term used of them is exactly the same term used of the righteous. If they are no more the same applies to the righteous.

            And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
            (Revelation of John 22:5 [ESV])

          • IanCad

            I’ll wrap it up with this comment Martin, in the full expectation that you will not agree. Another thread – another day.
            The comma is the devil in the story of the thief.
            Forever, eternal, everlasting have to be understood within the context of the text. Sodom is not still burning and Jonah was in the whale for only three days.

          • Martin

            Ian

            There is no comma in the Greek.

        • Martin

          EP

          Their souls have been judged, there is no longer any hope for the unsaved and the saved are glorified.

          • As I said below, I’m no theologian and would merely repeat that our Rector asks us to pray for the souls of the departed.

          • Martin

            EP

            Then your rector is in error, the Bible tells us that after death comes the judgement, that means that no one’s condition can be changed after death.

          • As I said, I’ve never studied theology, but our Rector has a doctorate in the subject. On earth, on can make a plea in mitigation before judgement in a court, cannot one do the same for someone else before God’s judgement? Clearly our Rector believes that we can.

          • Martin

            EP

            I’m afraid that many who do not know and love the Saviour have scholarly qualifications. And many heresies start in universities.

            A human judge does not know all the facts, God knows all about the one standing before Him and needs no one to plea for mitigation.

  • DSERIES

    I would not wish to pick holes in this article. In fact I would make one overall change . Bishops rarely visit my C of E . Consequently it is the curates and vicars who need to be thoroughly trained in doctrine and theology and be equipped to preach and teach from Scripture. My church web site gives plenty of info regarding who we are and what we do. No mention of what we believe .But every “new thing ” from Toronto Blessings to Todd Bentleyism has turned up over the years.

  • Alison Bailey Castellina

    I recently undertook a rapid and ad hoc analysis of academic qualifications and interests of twenty Bishops and Archbishops of the Church of England. Very few had advanced theological qualifcations (deans tend to have more than Bishops). They had first degrees from a range of universities in varied subjects including law, geography, literature, history and economics and probably theology (though it is hard to tell from “BA”). Cuddesdon and Kings College London featured strongly among their training colleges, but not exclusively, just as some of them did not have a private education. They were not entirely devoid of PhDs and Masters in Theology (but these qualifications do not figure highly at all among them). Only 15% of them stated that ‘reading’ is one of their interests – while 40% state that ‘theatre’ or ‘cinema’ are key interests. I would say that a love of academia, reading and thirst for theology is not key to becoming a Bishop or Archbishop in the Church of England.

    • Richard B

      V interesting in view of my remarks on the latest post. Thanks Alison