same-sex marriage schism
Church of England

Same-sex marriage/blessing confronts Church of England with "a structural flaw of fatal proportions"

 

We have reached Chapter 5 in the great Anglican sexuality saga: ‘Church of England parishes consider first step to break away over sexuality‘. It isn’t clear what the dénouement shall be, but the same-sex marriage/blessing plot thickens: ‘shadow synod’; ‘alternative Anglican church in England’; ’embryonic structures’; ‘church within a church’…

The Rev’d Dr Peter Sanlon, Vicar of St Mark’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, is the protagonist. He explains: “If senior leaders of the Church of England water down the teaching of the Church of England on key issues like homosexuality, then this synod could easily evolve in to a new Anglican jurisdiction in England. The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that he is aware of the possibility that a significant proportion of the church will not accept a change in the church’s teaching. This could be the beginning of that playing out.” And for those who think this faction will just get up and go and conveniently leave the liberal-progressive wing to get on with it, Dr Sanlon adds: “I am not leaving the Church of England..”

It’s hardly 95 Theses stuff. Dr Sanlon may say with Martin Luther: “I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.” But a dozen congregations in the Home Counties is hardly a schism: ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ is more troublesome priest than reformer. But there is a prophetic voice:

An Address to Churches from 3 Dioceses in the C of E gathered in Tonbridge- June 2016.
Dr Gavin Ashenden.

As a way of approaching the question of discerning the state of the C of E,  we are going to begin with the Canticle that opens Morning Prayer:-

We are invoking the presence of God – and we will also reacquaint ourselves with a hesitation that is a hallmark of the spirituality of the Church of England.

The Venite

10 Venite – A Song of Triumph
1
O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.
2
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving
and be glad in him with psalms.
3
For the Lord is a great God
and a great king above all gods.
4
In his hand are the depths of the earth
and the heights of the mountains are his also.
5
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have moulded the dry land.
6
Come, let us worship and bow down
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7
For he is our God;
we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
The canticle may end here.

All
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.

In almost every public service I have been to, the canticle does indeed end here.

But there are four more verses.

We have had the blessing – but now comes the warning. The Church of England however does not have much stomach for warnings from God, and so cuts them out.

What the psalmist continues with before the liturgical censor let us off the hook is:-

8
O that today you would listen to his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
on that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9
‘When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof,
though they had seen my works.
10
‘Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“This people are wayward in their hearts;
they do not know my ways.”
11
‘So I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter into my rest.”‘
Psalm 95

Sadly, it is not just the Venite that is artificially shortened to keep our ears from the offence of God’s warning.

The compilers of the lectionary – the schedule for reading through the Bible – show the same instincts. There are often verses missing – and usually – they are verses of judgement.

The Church of England has liturgically stopped its ears – so that it does not hear the words of judgement from the Lord.

WHY IS NOW DIFFERENT FROM BEFORE?

The question is quite rightly asked, why is what is happening now any different or more serious than what has happened often before?

The Church of England has always been a place of width and largesse – embracing a generous latitude of spiritualities.

After all, we have had bishops who denied the virgin birth and bishops who denied the resurrection. Wasn’t that equally serious?

To which the answer was that these were examples of the mistaken or heretical  people being placed in offices they were unworthy to hold.

But before long, they retired or died, and the office was filled by someone who did believe. This was an occasional aberration of faith, not a structural flaw of fatal proportions.

What we face now is a structural flaw of fatal proportions.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s say you live in a block of flats and above you is a noisy neighbour who ruins your sleep. You complain to the management committee and they say, don’t worry, their tenancy will soon be at an end, and we will replace them with someone more polite, respectful and congenial. You don’t have to leave.

But one day, you get a rich tenant on the ground floor beneath you, and he has aspirations to build a large underground swimming pool and car park. He is rather quieter and muffles his pneumatic drills. The noise is no longer a problem. But an  engineer friend of yours visits and takes looks at it and warns you that you are in real trouble. There are no reinforced steel girders,- he has undermined your foundation and very soon this whole block of flats will collapse. He refuses to change his plans. The lack of noise and temporary unpleasantness gave no indication of how serious the problem was about to become.

The building would fail to stand if there was the slightest tremor.

No representation to the management committee was in a position to make the building any safer. You have to leave, or it will fall about your head.

We have had heretical bishops who have disbelieved in aspects of the creed, who have come and gone.

But what we are facing now is different because it is re-writing the DNA of the Church with a theology of both gender and sexual practice which is in direct contradiction what the Bible teaches us is God’s intention for us.

When things go wrong in the Church it is usually about sex, money, power or alcohol. The good news, is that I don’t think we are going to be bothered by the alcohol element tonight. But the three other elements we will be troubled by.

We will look at the way the change in the practice of ordination has not only overthrown two thousand years of biblical and apostolic tradition, but has muddied the waters of our biblical anthropology by giving a new controlling idea – ‘equality’ which will lead us quickly and inevitably on to a validation of homosexual marriage and the subsequent dilution and distortion of family life, family stability and the use of children deprived of their biological parents as hostages to an un-Christian ideology.

This will take us on to the misuse of power to enforce these patterns on orthodox Anglicans, and the consequent struggle over the control of the way in which our own money is used against us to promote a pseudo Christianity that we never believe in nor can support.

CRISIS

In the New Testament, the Greek world for judgement is Krisis, from where we get our word crisis. When Jesus warns humanity of the judgement to come, the word we have in St Matthew 10.15, the original word is Krisis.

Speaking of a community that rejects the Apostles and their message of salvation he says, “Truly I tell you, it will more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of crisis – or judgement – than for that town.”

We ourselves have come to a time of crisis, both in the Church and in our culture. The Christian ethics that have held our society together for hundreds of years have been subverted – in both social and cultural theory and practice.

Our culture is in pursuit of pleasure and gratification, which are its gods, and has given itself licence to ignore the Judaeo-Christian foundations on which it was built.

More than ignoring them, it has decided to reject them by re-defining them.

Marriage, over the millennia within the Judaeo-Christian communities has been held holy, honoured and practised as being between one man and one woman, for the procreation of children.

It is being changed across the world to accommodate same-sex intimacies and to become the vehicle for designer children – children who are biologically conceived by a mother and father, in order to be removed from them and augment a different relationship.

We are at a time both of crisis and judgement.

We know as we look back in history that when the Church distorts, ignores or undermines the Bible, which is the umbilical cord through which the life of God flows into the Church, we can find ourselves in the most serious predicament.

How is that happening today?

In particular in the whole movement towards the legitimisation of gay practice and the redefinition of marriage away from one man and one woman.

The whole exercise in what is being called conversations for “Good Disagreement” is intended to soften up orthodox Christian so that they will become either more marginalised and demoralised and accept the change of culture both outside the Church and increasingly within it.

There are, of course, times when good disagreement can and should take place. But how can you disagree well about something that is forbidden in Scripture and the whole of orthodox Christian experience – which we call tradition?

We cannot bless what God says is un-blessed.

THE RELIGION OF ‘TED’

How might we explain how quickly secular ideas have overwritten the conviction of the Christian world.

A helpful and perhaps memorable analysis is to identify that might be described as the religion of TED- a religiosity that has filled the vacuum in post Christian culture.

TED is not a person or a movement but a kind of spirituality.

It stands for: therapeutic ethical deism. Here is how these three components of spirituality come together:

The ‘deism’ describes people who want to believe in a God, rather than no god.

So what kind of God?

An ethical god.

The ethical god would want us to be nice to each other;

Nice never challenges things that are wrong.

The therapeutic bit describes a God who wants us to feel good about ourselves.

Like all heresy, this picture contains some truth – but what it leaves out  is more important, and dislocates a kind of warm fuzzy spirituality from the source of God’s revelation.

The God of the Bible offers us affirmation and unconditional love, but mercy is intended to lead to repentance. The primary goal is not feeling good about ourselves.

He calls us not so much to be nice, as to forgive those who wound us, without limit, dying to self interest in the most extreme way. This is more and different  from the practice of the dilute narcissism of niceness.

How does one slip from awe and obedience into a kind of self-serving spiritual consumerism?

It happens when you let go of the Holy Scriptures, when you give preference to secular, contemporary, cultural fashion over the living word of God.

In giving up on the pattern of relationship between men and women and the invitation to sexual continence that the New Testament calls us to, the Church of England detaches itself from the blessing and the enabling of God.

DIAGNOSIS AND DISCERNMENT – THE ISSUE OF REPENTANCE

Why is repentance what we are called to rather than cultural assimilation?

C.S. Lewis explains it well.

When he wrote his book “The Great Divorce”,  it was because he wanted to give expression to a point of Christian understanding that he thought was vital to the health of the Church and the salvation of souls.

The poet William Blake had written a piece called “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.  Tempting though it is to turn this into a theological lecture on Blake and Lewis, what we need to know for our purposes, is that Lewis believed there are times when you can only access the Kingdom of heaven by repenting – turning round.

Blake was for experimenting with morality as a method of finding your way assimilating the preferences of contemporary culture. Lewis thought the New Testament taught the opposite.

He said that faith was rather like mathematics in that once you had gone wrong, the only way to get to the right ending was to go back to wherever it was you went wrong, put it right and start again.

Faced with what we do as a church when we have to choose between assimilating what our culture prefers or being faithful to Scripture, Lewis reminds us that we have to repent, find a metanoia, a change of mental map, and go back to get it right.

The lure of what the Church often calls heresy, it that there is so much that is appealing and right in it.

Heresy is appealing because it is the presentation of half-truths.

GK Chesterton said that:  “a heresy is a half truth turned into a whole falsehood”. (America, November 9, 1935).

What is the heresy – the half-truth that we are finding so attractive?

THE CULTURAL CONTEXT

First, it helps to try to explain the cultural context.

The controlling idea that is dominating our social conversations, politics and education is ‘Equality’.

When the Christian bakers in Northern Ireland refused to promote gay weddings with their cakes, it was the Equality Commission that took them to court.

Equality builds on moral relativity – that one idea, one morality is no better than another, and finds Christianity’s claim that it is following a special revelation offensive.

But it begins as a Christian idea.

There is a vision for a new heaven and a new earth in the Scriptures, where the powerful no longer oppress the weak. The Lion lies down with the lamb. Heaven is a form of spiritual utopia.

In Europe, there have been a number of responses to this utopianism – those who saw it promising a new heaven preached the Gospel more fervently and were prepared to wait for what theologians call the “parousia” – the final rolling-up of time and space in the promised Kingdom.

But some idealists felt that this was too long to wait and we needed a bit of heaven on earth now. What was needed to end the oppression of the weak by the powerful was an insistence on the equal worth of all people irrespective of their social status or economic power. After all, doesn’t Genesis teach that everyone is made equally in the image of God? Surely this equality of worth should challenge the inequality of social oppression?

Early atheists borrowed the idea of equality, and came to the conclusion it was the role of the state to bring in peace, equality and justice – by compulsion if necessary.

We might look at how this politicizing of equality in or by the state worked out. The French Revolution and Russian revolution in 1917 were the prime examples of state imposed equality.

The death toll in France was over 150,000 – but in Russia much worse. As you already know the death toll under Stalin alone was about 11 million in Russia.

In China under Mao Tse Tung in China, it reached between 70 and 90 million.

Do these figures matter?  They warn us that the forcible imposition of equality by the state is a dangerous and violent business.

They remind us that it should come as no great surprise that Jesus was so very wary of the politicizing of his role as Messiah.

They warn us of what happens when you try to impose a version of the Kingdom of heaven, namely the pursuit and enforcement of equality, by political – rather than spiritual – means.

Communism saw itself as a politicization of Judaeo-Christian values. Social ethics without the metaphysics. What was interesting about the way in which these states that set out to impose equality on people was the way they turned so energetically against the Church, setting out to persecute or eradicate it.

But as we know the economic foundations of Communism collapsed. In China it morphed into a communist/capitalist hybrid, in Russia they simply imploded.

But something rather strange emerged from the ashes which will we will call ‘Cultural Marxism’ for now.

It was as if quest for equality disengaged from economics, and attached itself instead to our secular culture.

Instead of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality, we have the three refreshed gods of equality, inclusion and ‘non-discrimination’.

It is very hard to explain exactly how this new project has attached itself to our Western culture. Some people have described it as a meme – an idea that almost has a life of its own that finds people to host it. The meme sounds surprisingly like a demon, or an evil spirit, as they are described in the New Testament. In Europe and America especially, this ‘meme’ has created a new ideological and political climate.

But whatever we call it, this quest for equality turns on the Church and Christian witness with what feels like a determined antipathy. And there are two areas in which the quest for equality has set its face against the Church and they are feminism and the pursuit of gay marriage.

FEMINISM AND HOMOSEXUALITY

Perhaps it should be no great surprise that, in a culture which has progressively sexualized itself, the heresies of the day would express themselves in terms of a distortion of the Biblical picture for sexual expression and gender relations.

We have had so many years of being bombarded by feminism that it has become a wholly normal part of our outlook. Of course there are varieties of feminism. Academics write about four waves of feminism – the beginnings being in the late 1840s, then the 1960s, the 1990s and now. So feminism can mean different things, some constructive and some damaging.

It is clearly good that injustice and unfairness be challenged and changed, but less good that the ancient struggle of difference between the sexes becomes a war of attrition. But ending injustice is not the same as enforcing equality.  They are two very different projects. And the problem we face is one that takes place when you use the tools of power to interpret theology.

Cultural Marxism looks through the lens of power. Everything is judged in terms of power relations.

But theology is not about power – it is about Love and they are two different languages. The difficulty we face is having brought the tools of power relations to the language of Love.

How does this affect the Church? We need to make a distinction between ministry and structured symbolism (or office).

It is so important to say at the outset that ministry in the Holy Spirit is for every Christian, regardless of category. And it is obvious to most of us that women have often been so much more gifted in terms of openness to God and the gifts of God. There is an obstinate independence and self-reliance in many men that makes us harder nuts to crack.

The only thing that stands between any of us and God is our ‘yes or no’.

And women so often say ‘yes’ more quickly and more effectively than men do.

But the orders in the Church are about more than simply ministry.

They resonate with a structured symbolism.

We have an added problem in the Church of England. We are a hybrid Church: part Catholic and part Reformed. Many of the structures of the Church are Catholic and much of the furniture is Reformed. And we have two different languages, which makes it hard to have conversations in which we all understand each other.

I want to look at the influence of equality on each of these languages very briefly.

The Reformed part of the Church, when it comes to looking at ministry, values quite rightly St Paul’s teaching about headship, which is rooted – as with orthodox Judaism – in the template of Genesis.

For some of us the close study of Pauline texts on men, women and marriage has been a life long concern. For others, the strength of Paul’s picture of headship, and St John the Divine’s use of gender imagery with Jesus the bridegroom and his Church the bride are startlingly counter cultural.

If you have yet to have found the time to carefully research what Scripture unfolds as the mystery of the faithful interaction of Christian men and women, may I urge to you ask your vicar for help with reading and commentaries that help move us from the assumptions of our culture to the insights of the dynamics of the Kingdom.

HEADSHIP

For those who look to Scripture for their understanding of gender, we find there not equality but a hierarchy – only it is a hierarchy turned upside down by love. There we find Jesus, who did not count equality as a thing to be grasped, but submitted himself in love to the Father.

We find in St Paul particularly the language of this love-inverted hierarchy, where humility takes precedence over rights. And we find this lovingly-inverted hierarchy played out between the genders. It is of course a mystery of faith. After we have been born again by the Spirit, we see something of the mystery of God’s love – that those who are not born again cannot grasp. It makes no sense to them, because they are not working in the Spirit, but what Paul called ‘in the flesh’– politics and power are rooted in the flesh.

And it is part of the tragedy of the Church that so much of the theology and the politics of the Church of England is done by people who show no evidence of having been born again by water and the Spirit, and who are therefore only too happy to replicate the secular structures and ideas that they do understand.

Male headship to them is an anathema, because they have chosen social and secular equality over the mystery of the self-giving Trinity.

Does it matter? Yes, in so many ways, not least because it doesn’t stop there.

Because the next step is to eradicate the term ‘Father’, because it is resonant of  patriarchy and the secular worldview rejects and even despises patriarchy.

Bit by bit, step by step, the secular driven spirituality which pressed for the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopacy have started to dismantle the language of the Bible and the language and concepts Jesus taught us to us.

St Paul tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who moves in our heart to make us call out ‘Abba’ – daddy – to God. But those who do not live in the Spirit and do not have the Spirit want to remove Abba – daddy – from the language of the Church.

The first woman diocesan bishop refused to accept consecration, until the term ‘Father in God’ was removed from the rubric – because of course she is not a ‘father in God’.

It is common practice now in many Anglican Churches, both here and in America, to amend the description of the Trinity and change “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” to the gender-free “Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer”.

The first thing that the WATCH , the pressure group for the ordination of women, did after Synod had voted for women bishops, was to press for gender free liturgies, eradicating the fatherhood of God, and obscuring the masculinity of Jesus.

Headship matters theologically, because it protects and promotes the language of mutually accountable vulnerable love that holds the genders together, in the face of the language of rights and equality, which is in effect the language of political power. Whenever the Church adopts the language and idioms of power, it becomes less than fully Christian.

PRIESTHOOD

I realize that, for many here, “priesthood” is a problematic term. It is part, not so much of the Catholic inheritance of the Church, as something common to both the Eastern and Western Church that grew out of the teaching of the apostles. We have been arguing about this for four hundred years in the Church of England, but this balancing of the Apostolic inheritance and Holy Scripture is what Anglicanism does.

Let me briefly try and explain a little the language of the undivided Church that existed in all places and everywhere for one and half thousand years.

If you ask the Orthodox Christians why they look to the first three centuries of the Church for their foundational theology, they will tell you that, if in the year 160 you had asked Bishop Polycarp, on the eve of his martyrdom, where he had got his theology of the Church, he would have said he got it from the Apostle John, who taught him the faith. Polycarp was born in AD 80, and John lived long enough to teach him what Jesus said and what Jesus meant. And by the year 160 we find a Church with Bishops – who were the apostles’ successors and who guaranteed the truth of the resurrection, priests or presbyters – who were their delegates – and deacons.  The marks of this church were bishops who guaranteed the faith, priests who stood in for the bishop in places he could not bilocate to, deacons, the Eucharist, explosive evangelism and martyrdom.

The Apostle, and his successor the bishop, and his delegate – the priest – stood in for Jesus and celebrated the Eucharist.

The early Church saw the priest or presbyter as the ikon of Christ at the Eucharist. An ikon is something between a picture that you look at and a window that you look through. And the priest represents Jesus at the Last Supper.

To the orthodox, gender is part of the way God reveals himself. To the progressives it is irrelevant or a distraction. Does masculinity have role in revelation?

CS Lewis is helpful:

But Christians think that God himself has taught us how to speak of him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity.

Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to “Our Mother which art in Heaven” as to “Our Father.” Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son… Now it is surely the case that if all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion. Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped; many religions have their priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity… Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential… We know from our poetical experience that image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit; that a child who has been taught to pray to a Mother in Heaven would have a religious life different from that of a Christian child.

(CS Lewis, ‘Priestesses in the Church’).

There are some interesting points made about the way in which the theology of gender is a battleground for revelation.

The witness of Judaism was often about the perpetual struggle the prophets had with fertility religion – which was dominated by the feminine – because it is the fruitful feminine in our biological experience which life to birth. But the worship of the feminine very quickly moves to a placating of fertility, in particular the earth that provides us with sustenance.

God as father was the sign that Yahweh was the creator – who was to be worshipped, and not nature or mother earth. This was about idolatry. The people of God were invited to discover the Creator – who was masculine, and not turn their living devotion to the creation, which was fruitful and feminine.

Does this have any application today?

Yes, I think it does. The whole ecological movement is rooted in a devotion to the feminine principle of Gaia, a self-sustaining, self-balancing self-healing earth, that is feminine and decidedly not masculine.

The venerating of the feminine continues to draw people away from God the Father, who created heaven and earth, to creation, instead of creator.

APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION

The problem that the consecration of women as bishops has brought to many, is that it breaks the integrity of Apostolic succession.

For some people in the Church of England the unbroken line of ordination and consecration from Jesus through the apostles was a sign that they belonged to a Church which was not invented in any particular century or culture.

It was linked by a direct chain of accountability to the Apostles who saw Jesus rise from the dead.

Down through the centuries  many sects and groups claimed to be Christian, but changed some of the essential ingredients of the faith. It began with the Gnostics.

The simplest way to refute them was to ask: “Who founded your Church?” If the Church you belong to was founded by the apostles, you were on solid ground. This still matters to many and is, of course, a powerful refutation of sects like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Indeed, if you meet an Orthodox Christian, very often the first thing they ask you is: “Which apostle founded your Church? Was it St Peter in Rome, or St Mark in Alexandria, or St Thomas in India?”. In our case it was both St Peter and St Paul – because it was founded by the evangelistic mission that Peter’s successor Pope Gregory sent out in 597 to Kent. The early Church was founded on the Apostolic Patriarchates of Jerusalem – Antioch, Alexandria, Rome and later Constantinople.

It doesn’t matter to everyone, but it mattered greatly to some Anglicans. And the unbroken episcopacy was an umbilical cord that linked our Christian community to the New Testament.

It linked the Church of England to the other children of the apostles, the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. It had always been understood in the Church that you were not entitled to make any major changes without the whole of the rest of the Church, praying together and consulting one another – in and under the Spirit.

The seven ecumenical councils of the whole Church have given us our creed and determined the canon of the Bible. It is inconceivable, if one is accountable to the historic Church of the apostles, to make a major theological change in the structure of the Church without consulting the Catholics and the Orthodox.

When we did consult them over adopting secular gender models, they begged us not to do it and warned us that, if we did, we would be splitting the body of Christ even further apart. But the secularists who were now the majority in the Church of England were so convinced that their pursuit of so-called gender equality was “progress”,  that they didn’t object to further splitting the body of Christ and pressed on regardless. So, in the name of equality, headship was denied, the symbolism of priesthood and episcopacy was altered and the Church further divided.

But the equality agenda had further ambitions.

HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY RIGHTS

Many members of the Church of England, having been exposed to the relentless secular agenda, are more comfortable with that model than with the Scriptural one. But what became clear was that the feminizing of the priesthood and the episcopate was only the first step to a dismantling of biblical and apostolic theology.

The next step was the assault on marriage and the rights of children. When you discover that the majority of women in senior positions in the Church of England say they are in favour of gay rights, it gives credence to the belief that a deal was struck between the gay community  and the more senior women – if you support our cause, we will support yours. Equal gender rights and so-called “equal marriage” are two carriages being pulled by the one engine of Cultural Marxism.

Let me be personal for a moment and say something about my relationship with the gay rights movement.

FROM LIBERALISM TO ORTHODOXY

In the mid-1980s I began to attend Greenbelt which, as many of you know, is an evangelical Christian arts festival. It was at Greenbelt that I was first exposed to the rather fresh and exciting idea of the proper way to assess gay relationships is to use what St Paul describe as the fruit of the Spirit.

If the relationships were loving, stable and permanent, if they seemed kind of generous and generative, then perhaps this demonstrated God’s blessing and acceptance, and showed that we had misread Scripture.

I also worked at one of our most secular Universities in the country, in a place that was a centre of gay culture, where I was both chaplain and senior lecturer for 23 years; and there, of course, I met many gay students and faculty members.

I became very fond of my gay friends. I identified with the fear and difficulty they felt as they came to terms with their sexuality.

My sense of pastoral concern and natural affection convinced me that I and the Church had misunderstood the Biblical texts. Sodom and Gomorrah was not about homosexuality; St Paul was not talking about loving stable gay relationships.

I became a spokesman for LGBT questions and was invited to give talks and lectures of encouragement.

There came a point when my mind was radically changed.

I had an experience in which I found I was being told to repent. The details of this are less important and I’m happy to explain them at length later, but for the moment let me say that I was surprised and shocked. I revisited the two different theologies of sexuality I had known, and I decided that, for the next year, I would hold both approaches in my head, one traditional and the other “progressive”,  and would apply them in the situations I encountered.

As the year went by, it became clear that the traditional reading of Scripture told much more truth about the situations I was encountering pastorally than the Greenbelt progressive view I had adopted before.

So many aspects of the gay propaganda I had been so impressed by simply weren’t true.

Many of the young women students I had sat with as they came out as gay in their late teens and 20s, fell in love with men 10 years later, and asked me to rejoice as they planned their weddings. When I asked them is they had been truly gay when they came out, they replied, “clearly not.”

So far from being stable and faithful, I discovered that even the most committed of gay men had open relationships, in which they allowed each other a certain number of other sexual partners every month.

Restricting yourself to less than a certain quota of sexual partners per month, outside your relationship, was deemed to be faithful and stable.

I remember going to one of my favorite lesbian friends, a woman of intellectual and moral stature, whom I  cared for and admired very much, when I discovered Scandinavian research which said that lesbian relationships were eight times more likely to fail than straight ones, and that lesbian relationships contained exponentially higher levels of domestic violence then straight relationships.

“Yes,” she said, “Both as things are true and we are very grateful that the media never exposes them.”

As the movement to change the definition of marriage to include gay relationships developed, the whole question of babies ordered from a third party arose.

Many gay couples decide to have children by find a third party – two men need to rent a womb; two women need sperm from another man.

Whatever else one thinks of this arrangement, the fundamental problem is that the designed or ordered child has no right of access to their biological parents.

In America at the moment, the first generation of these children are telling a different story from that which the media promotes.

Kay Faust, one of a group of adults raised in gay marriage, recently spoke out against the movement to change the definition of marriage in an American court.

She testified: “Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child will always be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent.” She explains: “Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires.”

When children are imported into a gay marriage, what happens to their rights to have access to their real mother or real father?

But there are other changes that flow from this.

One very serious development  is that there is no reason to restrict marriage to 2 people once you have remove from marriage the centrality of having children together in a biologically natural way.

POLYGAMY AND POLYAMORY

Equal marriage advocates are already demanding the change of laws in Brazil and Canada, to allow polygamy and polyamory. There are couples who find themselves wanting to augment their romantic and erotic relationship with a third or even a fourth person.

Sadly, polygamy and polyamory are exponentially more unstable than one man partnering one women, and will cut at the roots of stable family life, and introduce a level of incoherence and chaos for children yet undreamed of.

The responsibility for this shift lies, I believe, with heterosexuals. During the last century, we promoted a narrative of marriage that concentrated on the  romantic and erotic components of relationship and away from children and grandchildren.

Once straight couples began to diminish the role of children as defining characteristics of family and marriage, particularly as the divorce rates exploded, we can hardly blame the gay community for saying that, if marriage is about romance and sex, they can do that too.

THEOLOGY AND DISCERNMENT

If we go back to our bibles and ask the Scriptures what it is that is taking place, we find an analysis in St Paul’s letter to the Romans.

He says in chapter 1 one that one of the effects of a society that turns to idolatry rather than the living God will be a dissolving and dissolution of natural and gender identities.

He talks about the disruption in our understanding of sex and sexuality as being a consequence of idolatry.

It doesn’t come as any surprise, then, that as our own culture throws off our Judaeo-Christian tradition and pursues a range of other gods, that the scaffolding that holds us together in the image of God will be loosened and begin to fall apart.

The very notion of a single gay culture is of course deceptive.

As the glue that holds together biology and the mental identifying with one’s own biology melts, so do the descriptors.

THE INCOHERENCE OF FRAGMENTING SEXUALITY: LGBTQIA

The category is no longer homosexual or even gay. It has subdivided to the point of incoherence.

LGBTQIA  stands for : “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual.”

Other people add aromantic, pansexual, polysexual.

Nor do they even feel able to make common cause. The annual conference of the National Union of Students debated a motion to kick out the gay white men from LGBT special protected categories, because they weren’t oppressed enough. The secular spirit of equality driven by power relations turns on, and cannibalizes, its own offspring.

GORE VIDAL

Gore Vidal, as many of you will know, was one of the great figures of letters in America in the last century. He claimed credit for inventing the term “gay” to start a political movement that protected homosexuals from persecution.

At the end of his life he said this was the one achievement that he most regretted. He believed that there was only one humanity, and its subdivision into different categories was to be regretted. And what he had done was to produce a new subcategory of humanity, which created further division and incoherence.

What I like about Gore Vidal’s analysis is that this is essentially not a problem with gay people or gay sex or gay marriage. If we accept Vidal’s advice, there are just people. One category of human beings, but some of whom have a variety of sexual appetites.

It’s interesting how, for a while, the media propaganda was that being homosexual was something you were born with and had no choice over.

Amongst the 1.7 % of the population the National Statistics Office who self-identify as gay, they have found no gay gene. There is no scientific evidence that you are born gay. In fact, no one has any idea what causes sexual attraction.

A different, and contradictory, rationale is now being launched as stage two of this experiment in gender dissolution gets under way, and that is that people have complete choice. You may identify with any kind of sexual persona you care to.

They began by saying: “We cannot help it or ourselves.” But move on to claim that people have the right to choose any variant of sexual identity that starts to appeal.

So let’s go back to Scripture and adopt a biblical anthropology. There we find there are just people, as Galatians chapter 5 describes; human beings who are made in the image of God, and  who – if we follow the Church fathers – are people in whom God is trying to develop the image into also being in His Likeness. The work of the Holy Spirit is to affirm the image of God in us, and then to re-make us in His Likeness.

But, to do that, the warring appetites of fallen humanity need to be confronted and conquered by the Love of God.

And people have a variety of different appetites. They relate to sex, power, money, self-pleasing, food, drink, drugs, but we believe in a God who looks to heal all our disordered appetites – including and especially those of the 98% who are heterosexual.

There have been so many assaults on the Old Testament, that the concentration on moments of violence and social incoherence have masked that the Bible is a study in purity.

God took a people he had chosen, and gave them rules and prophets to make them pure. The purity was sexual, social, spiritual and ethical. Of course Jesus had nothing to say about sex between people of the same gender outside marriage, because it was already declared forbidden or unclean. The word we translated that by was ‘an abomination’ – but the Hebrew might be better translated as implying something ‘forbidden and unclean and not to be done’.

There are many ways for immoral behavior to make one’s soul unclean and this is just one.

But it is not for the Church, the people of the New Testament, to declare unclean moral behavior clean – whether by legitimizing sex outside marriage, or adultery or same sex intimacy.

We must not declare holy what is profane, or profane what is holy.

But that is what the Anglican Church has done and is continuing to do.

THE STATUS QUO IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

If we were in any doubt about the direction in which things are moving, we have the example what has happened in America over the last 40 years.

You will be only too aware of how the Episcopal Church in America has driven this particular change in theology and culture, and how other Anglican Christians across the Anglican Communion have objected.

The Global Anglican Fellowship met together in Jerusalem in 2008 and signed the Jerusalem Declaration and its preface.

It affirmed that “…marriage is between one man and one woman…”

And directly referring to the Episcopal Church: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word and deed.”

It condemned the “false gospel” that “promotes a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behavior as a universal human right. It continued that GAFCON was “out of communion” with the churches of the “false gospel” [TEC]. It also called on those who shared these values to separate from them and realign with Global South Anglicans.

But over the last decade we have watched both the recent Archbishops of Canterbury prevaricate in order to keep together two kinds of Anglicanism that cannot and should not be kept together.

For many of us the last straw came when the agreement that was reached by the Primates last January, in which the Episcopal Church was sanctioned and given a three-year cooling off period to reflect, was derailed at Lusaka only weeks later.

Archbishop Justin Welby, who had brokered the original deal, then appeared to sanction its breach.

When he was appointed many evangelicals were delighted that someone with such a direct experience of conversion was elevated to such a position of responsibility.

But doubts soon began to creep in. In his speeches to the House of Lords he began to affirm the cogency of gay relationships.

Only this last week in the press he was reported as saying: “Don’t evangelise unless you are asked to.”

When he was asked about his personal faith, in a Spectator interview a few months ago, he made a central plank of the interview a promise to go to the entirely hypothetical gay wedding of a hypothetical gay child.

The Church of England has just entered into a close ecumenical relationship with the Church of Scotland who have just voted to allow their homosexual clergy to be married to each other. Clearly the next stage will be to offer to the laity what the clergy enjoy and move from there to the celebration gay weddings.

The ‘Shared Conversations’ which the wider Church and the General Synod has embarked upon seem designed to have only one outcome – to validate homosexual experience and expectations, which have been shared and listened to  in order to legitimise the move to gay blessings and then gay marriage.

Some dioceses are appointing clergy to senior positions who live openly in gay relationships.

Within the Church of England itself, despite solemn promises made for mutual flourishing, clergy whose ethics and world view are biblically orthodox, are marginalized and even blacklisted.

The term for this is apostasy – which comes from the Greek word apostasies signifying a revolt.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions‘ (2Tim 4.3).

We cannot say that we have not seen the trajectory of this struggle for the heart of the Church taking place over the last 40 years in America. We have seen there an Anglican Church intoxicated with the spirit of the age that turns on orthodox clergy and deposes them; that has adopted all the a fully developed syncretism with other religions.

What was the response of the orthodox in America?

Large number of Anglicans decided that they could no longer belong to a Church that had reconfigured the Apostolic and Biblical DNA. In 2009 they left.

The new Anglican Church in North America now has 28 dioceses, one thousand congregations and over 100,000 members.

MONEY AND POWER

Despite the promises that different theological integrities would be allowed to flourish our experience is that Dioceses ask you to affirm your support of female episcopacy and priesthood, and if you can’t or won’t, then you don’t make it to the short list.

There is de facto marginalisation of conservative evangelicals.

As the Church finds itself running out of money the training and the provision of curates is changing.

There are proposals for a group of churches to share curates.

But how will it be possible for a heterodox curate to preach biblically to an orthodox parish?

The effect will be to remove access to curates from parishes that hold biblical values.

Many dioceses look increasingly to the generous giving of biblically faithful churches to underwrite their attempts to remain solvent. The bishop of Truro has predicted he faces insolvency in about three years. The diocese we are in at the moment is running a deficit this year of half a million pounds and next year a projected deficit of three quarters.

Certain dioceses have appointed to their senior posts gay partnered clergy who actively promote the progressive agenda, and look for traditionalists to foot the diocesan bill.

As the pressure to conform to accept these changes grows we find few options in front of us.

1 We cannot opt to do nothing, keep our heads down, becoming refugees in a Church that adopts the spirit of the age.

2 We will not leave to join other denominations and turn our back on a church that has been our home in faith.

3 We must then stay and find ways to support one another in networks and fellowship that allow those who want to remain faithful to the Scriptures to draw strength, purpose and vision from each other.

We have been very used to being confined by geography rather than conviction. But tonight we have PCC’s from three different dioceses taking counsel together.

  • We need to find ways of drawing churches together who share biblical values across the boundaries of Victorian geography.
  • We need to follow the example of the Good Steward’s Trust in Southwark and move the flow of money from the Diocese to the orthodox network.
  • We need to repent of our clericalism and take counsel with the whole people of God.
  • We need to prepare ourselves for a Church of England which is changing rapidly and find ways of organising, identifying and defending what we stand for and believe in.

Synods have a reputation for dealing the mundane administration and politics of the Church as an organisation, but the word describes something more wholesome, a walking together.

We have the unprecedented experience of representatives of nine Church councils coming together to take counsel.

We already tonight constitute a synod of orthodox Anglicans.

As someone who has been praying for years for the renewal of a compromised church, I can see tonight that you constitute the ever-fresh stream of faithfulness, that obedience to the Holy Scriptures produces.

Can I urge to commit yourselves to one another as Church Councils who share the same view of a Church that guards and celebrates the whole faith.

In a moment Peter is going to lead us in prayer, and then we can begin to have a conversation about the practical steps that might lie ahead of us and be begun tonight.

Let me end with the words of Joshua to the people, when they were faced with a stark choice of being faithful to God or turning away in a different direction:

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24.15).

The Rev’d Dr Gavin Ashenden.  May 2016

  • Mrs S wilson

    So sad to read this, but it seems the inevitable outcome when apparently twelve anglican clergy have entered into same-sex “marriages” in defiance of church teaching without any apparent disciplinary action against them. The meeting in Tunbridge Wells gives some hope that evangelicals will stand together for biblical orthodoxy rather than compromise. I hope many more will join them.

    • Eustace

      What, like they joined the RC Ordinariate?

      I hope so too. The fewer the better?

    • Dominic Stockford

      Thus has been the case since the 1800’s. Ryle got it in the neck for trying to allow the disciplinary process to be used against those who defied CofE rulings – and the culprits, though found guilty, were restored to the ministry of their congregation after being let out of prison early!

      • Anton

        That’s interesting; would you care to give a link or enough detail to be googlable?

        • Dominic Stockford

          Link?! Googlable?! Sorry, read it in a book!

          J C Ryle Prepared to Stand Alone
          by Iain Murray

          – regarding the case of Rev James Bell Cox, of St Margaret’s Toxteth. It was regarding Romanist practices. The Church Assoication formally prosecuted Cox, Ryle, as Bishop, did not stop the prosecution as he could have done. It went to the chancery court at York. Cox was admonished, but refused to abide by the courts direction, was sent to jail at Walton prison, but was quickly released on a ‘technicality’. Ryle’s comment was:

          “We are practically in a state of anarchy about ecclesiastical discipline.”

          ‘Figaro’, a press of the time, said of Ryle ‘His name will stink in history’ – and the critical press said that he should have exercised his veto and prevented the prosecution.

          • Anton

            Cox should have been thrown out of the church, not into jail.

    • John

      Agree, and this is lamentable, but this is similar to the point made in the article about renegade bishops occasionally denying the faith. They come and they go. The C of E sadly doesn’t have the stomach for discipine or excmmunication – and never has. It is if and when the C of E changes its theology on sexuality, like the Anglican Church in the USA did, that we will have an irrevocable schism on our hands.

    • Harry

      Compromise is a virtue.Incidentally, Mrs Wilson, my husband and I are a respectable married couple (lawyer and teacher) who are no different from any other married couple, gay or straight; and we like to think we contribute to the stability and well-being of society and any other stable couple do. Do you realise how offensive it is to us for you to put inverted commas around the word “married”? We are married in accordance with the supreme law of this kingdom, as are the 12. Even if you don;t agree with gays being married, show some respect.

      • Mrs S wilson

        Sorry Harry, but some compromises are not a virtue according to the Bible. And there are times when we have to disagree with the law if it is in opposition to what the Bible teaches, as did the apostles. I do not know you so I cannot disrespect you. I can however disagree with your view as you disagree with mine, and up until recently that was called tolerance. I put inverted commas round the word marriage because I cannot accept that homosexuals or lesbians are married in the sense society has understood the word from time immemorial, and I would draw your attention to an article in Anglican Mainstream dated 19th September, in which a gay man explains how he has changed his mind and can no longer accept the new definition.

  • Richard B

    No need for all that verbiage. It’s a simple, plain matter of sifting as in the wheat and tares parable. Clergy compromising the cross of Christ and thus reneging on the One who took our sins upon Himself and died so we may be forgiven and be reconciled to Heavenly Father, run the grave risk of the Hebrews 6:4-6 penalty. Jesus bought us back from satan and anyone who accepted and now renounces that gracious gift by denying God’s requirements will pay the price themselves.
    We’re now at the place foretold 25 yrs ago: the sifting of the harlot from the true Bride.

  • If the C of E does split, I’ll join the half without the present Archbishop of Canterbury.
    I’ve just read Breitbart which reports that he entertained at Lambeth Palace two extremist Pakistani Clerics who praised the killers of a politician who was supporting Christianity in Pakistan. http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/08/29/archbishop-canterbury-welcomes-pakistani-hate-preachers-praised-killer-pro-christian-minister/
    If you add to this his complete failure to say or do anything about the oppressed Christians in the Middle East, as far as I’m concerned he’s not fulfilling the true role of a senior cleric but playing politics.

    • Dominic Stockford

      He also expressed ‘joy’ at the feast of Eid this year.

  • Anton

    Despite these fighting words, either the faithful will continue to leach quietly away from the CoE, leaving something which will be obvious even to atheists is non-Christian, or there will someday be a major fight between Anglican evangelicals and liberals over the salaries and the buildings. Only time will tell.

  • bluedog

    David Cameron has a very great deal to answer for. Without a mandate he introduced ‘gay’ marriage as we know, and in doing so he has fatally weakened the CofE. It is abundantly clear that Cameron had not the slightest idea about the implications of what he has done. It was of course the responsibility of both Rowan Williams and Justin Welby at various times to inform and educate Cameron about the theological consequences of his proposal. It seems that both men have failed miserably, although one very much doubts that Cameron had the patience to listen to anything more than a sound bite.

    • Coniston

      Many in the establishment (political, cultural & academic) wanted SSM in order to destroy the basis of marriage. Cameron – I am guessing here – and others in the establishment were just clueless deluded nitwits. The cry was all for ‘equality’, but they ignored the question that should have been asked – ‘What is the meaning and purpose of marriage’. Now that the barriers have been knocked down ‘marriage’ can mean anything – or nothing. Many churches are becoming secularised – they have become, or are becoming, hollowed out, retaining just a thin veneer of Christianity.

      • bluedog

        Agreed. Whereas it was once a source of strength for the CofE to be a state church, it is now a terrible weakness. The state has become secular and demands that the Church do likewise in the image of the state. Dis-establishment would appear to be an essential response. But if the CofE is a state church, can it take the initiative, or must it wait until told to go? One suspects the current leadership will not take the initiative, just as it was foolish enough to oppose Brexit.

    • IrishNeanderthal

      Half way down this article by Dominic Lawson http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3661413/DOMINIC-LAWSON-architects-Project-Fear-pay-shameful-lies.html there is a section Gay marriage and a bitter Brexit divorce.

      Dominic Lawson says that if it were not for David Cameron’s decision to legalise marriage between people of the same sex — a measure he supported — Britain would not now be on her way out of the EU.

      (Due to the temporary boost the measure gave to UKIP, forcing Cameron to promise the referendum.)

      • bluedog

        Correct. There is little doubt that the Brexit vote was an instinctive revolt against a swathe of progressive policies, not the least of which is multiculturalism. The only surprise is that there weren’t more incidents such as that in Batley and Spen, tragic though it was.

    • Ivan M

      Cameron’s escapades with the boar’s head probably did him in. The buggers had the goods on him. They always do.

    • Dominic Stockford

      It is interesting to note that though Cameron took the credit it was in fact May who was personally responsible for the act making same-sex marriage legal.

      • Eustace

        Yay for May!

        I knew that despite the bland Middle England persona and the unfortunate penchant for animal prints, there was a reason why I quite liked her.

        Thank you for reminding me of it.

      • Anton

        Surely it was Her Majesty The Queen?

        • Eustace

          Yay for Queenie!

          See, we really do have friends in high places. At this rate Elton John will be archbishop of Canterbury before the year’s out and then you can kiss goodbye to your quadruple lock.

          I hope he premiers gay weddings in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor just like he premiered civil marriages in the town hall there. I may be able to swing an invitation if I twist enough arms. I’ll be stuck at the back of course, but I can always clamber up Queen Mary and stand on her tiara to get a better view.

          Who will give the bride (or spouse 1) away? Phil the Greek? Or will they draft in Gandalf or Albus Dumbledore instead?

          Ah well, if I don’t get invited, I may come to England anyway, just for the pleasure of standing in the crowd and watching purple colonels and their tweedy wives explode in impotent rage. I think that’s probably the whole point of the exercise. Encouraging aged bed blockers and hoarders of capital to go pop and release a flood of pent-up cash to set the economy back in motion…

          • Anton

            It is not “my” quadruple lock. I am no longer in the CoE and liberal theology is largely why. The congregation I am in does not involve itself in any way with ‘gay weddings’.

          • Eustace

            Great! Another brick has fallen from the walls of Canterbury Cathedral. Pretty soon they’ll all come tumbling down and the edifice will be no more. The mean little huts that replace it will all consider themselves to be the one true faith. But crazy people will always be with us. As long as the major obstacle of the established church has been demolished, it doesn’t really matter what feebly stirs in the ruins below.

          • Anton

            We are both sceptical of Establishment albeit for utterly different reasons.

      • Don Benson

        Theresa May is supremely clever at managing to be perceived simply as a hard-working pair of safe hands. In fact none of us knows what she really thinks beyond that she is fully signed up to the the politically correct agenda and, as you say, was a prime mover in the gay “marriage” iniquity. Don’t trust her an inch.

        • Eustace

          You’re right. I don’t trust her an inch. But I do trust her 2.54 centimetres…

      • bluedog

        Will Mrs May surprise us? Her enforcement of Brexit, which she opposed under the Cameron regime, is commendable. Can she do something similar for the CofE? As the daughter of an Anglican vicar, one can imagine that as a young woman she may have gone through a period of revolt and discarded the CofE. But now, charged with weighty responsibility and as a mature woman, will that sense of responsibility that we all have to uphold our legacy come to the fore?

  • Eustace

    Schism! Perfect!

    A house divided against itself cannot stand. I applaud the sterling work done on both the liberal and conservative sides to undermine the foundations of a united Anglican church and cause the whole edifice to collapse.

    I can’t wait for conservatives to flounce out of the Church and set up their own Congregation of St. Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. It’ll last a couple of decades at most before they all die off leaving African immigrants as the only theological conservatives. And as the growth of immigrant churches is a limited phenomenon, this post-imperial rump of believers will pose no danger to the secular state.

    An Anglican Church purged of its conservative element would have nothing to stop its transformation into an increasingly secular club or association where slightly loopy people would go to talk about their vague and formless feelings “spirituality”. That’s the trajectory the Church is on, and shedding its conservative members can only get it there more quickly.

    So all in all, this is all most satisfactory. And where the Anglican Church goes, Catholicism will follow.

    No need to “écraser l’infâme” if it fades away of its own accord.

    • The Explorer

      If God does not exist, then your analysis is exactly right. if God does exist, then the true church that exists within the C of E will survive.

      • sarky

        I know where my money is.

        • Ivan M

          Your money will burn with you.

          • sarky

            So inanimate objects go to hell as well?

          • Eustace

            Of course inanimate objects will go to hell with you. In fact the hellishness of hell will probably consist largely of those inanimate objects doing all the annoying things they do here on earth, but forever.

            I fully expect that in hell my Apple Watch will consistently refuse to pair with my iPhone, which won’t be able to sync with my Macbook, which will shun all communication with my desktop AND my printer. I’ll spend all my time downloading OS patches that fix one problem and create ten more. Microsoft Office will crash every time I load Photoshop and my French keyboard will map to the abomination that is QWERTY so thqt zhenzver I try to type qnything in English, it qll goes qzry.

          • Ivan M

            You are already looking at hell here on earth. Adult diapers, incontinence and a whole lot of diseases that even the 3rd World has not heard off. Don’t give yourself too many airs. For a man who doesn’t know the proper use of the mouth and anus you will learn soon enough.

          • sarky

            Ha ha ha I like the sound of hell as requiring eternal IT support!!

          • Ivan M

            What does it matter when you burn?

          • Dominic Stockford

            It’ll certainly burn in his mind as he considers the way that it was one of those things which parted him from God.

          • sarky

            It wasn’t those things.

            It was Christians.

          • Dominic Stockford

            But a true believer would know, that despite temporary difficulties, and even difficult people, God has made a promise to us – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

            Nothing at all. Not people, not what you insultingly accuse of Christians, not anything. Which means that it is in fact only you that stands between yourself and God.

          • bluedog

            We do hold your sacrifice in breathless admiration. Posting on a Christian website must be the hardest thing. Don’t do anything silly, will you?

      • Eustace

        Whether God exists or not, the Church is still perfectly capable of surviving in some form or another. All it takes for false doctrines to persist is for one person to continue to believe in them. Two people and you have a church.

        If Christianity persists it no more proves God’s existence than the persistence of the Japanese Shinto religion proves the existence of 8 million kami.

        So which is it then? God or a plethora of gods under every rock and up every tree? If your Church proves your God exists, surely Shinto proves its deities also exist? And Hinduism proves its deities exist too. In fact every religion with active believers must be proof of the reality of their gods.

        Looks like Yahweh has competition. Or none at all…

        • Ivan M

          Yahweh did prove Himself in those forty years. You had better watch out.

        • The Explorer

          “the Church is still perfectly capable of surviving in some form or another.” You said it would survive as loopy people talking about spirituality, and I agreed with you. That’s what the liberal C of E is now. ‘Church’ can mean anything. There’s the Church of Jesus Christ. of Latter-day Saints. There’s even the Church of Satan. What I said is that if God exists, the true church will survive.

          Who said anything about proof? I didn’t.

          • Eustace

            So you believe your unsubstantiated assertion with no requirement for proof at all, do you?

            The words “gullible” and “fool” come to mind…

          • The Explorer

            Any prediction about the future cannot be proved until the future has become the past.

          • Eustace

            Predictions backed up with solid data can however be relied upon.

            For example, given the known nature of the solar system, I can predict with pinpoint accuracy that the sun will rise tomorrow at a specific time according to your location.

            This is because my prediction will be based on verified scientific data rather than superstition and ego-centric wants and desires.

          • The Explorer

            All right, to the nearest thousand, what will the size of the C of E be in 2036?

          • Eustace

            Nobody has the data to be able to work that one out. There are too many variables involved.

            When we can’t predict something because we lack the data, it’s standard practice to say “we don’t know”.

            I wonder why Christians find that so hard. There’s no convincing data to support God, and yet you insist he really is there even though you can’t demonstrate his existence by any means whatsoever.

            I think I’m going to start a religion. I’ll call it Eustacism and I will, of course, be its one true prophet. I haven’t quite figured out what my god is going to be called, nor what he’ll be like. But that can wait. As he’ll be just as invisible and intangible as yours, he can be whatever I imagine him to be and nobody will be any the wiser. No, the bit I’m going to have to work on is my gospel, because that’s what will attract people (and their tithes) in the first place.

            I thought I might start with the following and play around with it for a while until I get it just right. I’ve cribbed it from Monty Python, of course. But there’s good precedent for that. Most Christian theology is cribbed from other faiths, like the Resurrection from Mithraism and the virgin goddess from the Greek religion.

            “There shall, in that time, be rumours of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi– with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment.

            At this time, a friend shall lose his friend’s hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o’clock.

            Yea, it is written in the book of Cyril that, in that time, shall the third one… ”

            I think I’m on the right track. L. Ron Hubbard, eat your heart out…

          • The Explorer

            You seem to be ignoring my use of the word ‘if’.

          • The C of E will no longer be in existence by 2036!

          • Guglielmo Marinaro

            Been looking in that crystal ball of yours, have you?

          • No need, it will dwindle into insignificance to be usurped by Islam. For the believers of the truth as stated in the Bible there will be a new Church, probably a minority though.

          • sarky

            1000 (top estimate)

      • Old Nick

        He mixes up the tares and the wheat till the harvest.

    • Richard B

      As mentioned previously – ’tis simply the difference between churchianity and Christianity. Oh, and as foretold.

    • Anton

      Indeed, Eustace. No danger to the glorious secular State from Christianity. From Islam, however… and they wouldn’t tolerate your lifestyle.

      • Eustace

        That’s right, when the Christian bogeyman of the Devil and his Hell fail to whip me into line, try the Muslim bogeymen of Salafism and the Islamic State instead. That’ll convert me. Or perhaps not…

        • Anton

          I’m not trying to convert you. I’m trying to warn you. Check the demographics. Christians would cop it too, incidentally.

          • Eustace

            I have checked the demographics. 7% of the population is going to cruelly oppress and slaughter the other 93%, is it?

            Of course in your depressing little fantasy world, Muslims breed like rabbits, so this time next year (or even next month given how Muslim men all have 200 pregnant wives, all of whom are on benefits), we’ll be overrun by a tide of murderous Muslim babies all wielding machetes and Kalashnikovs and baying for Christian and atheist blood.

            Meanwhile, here in the real world, all demographic trends tell us that the Muslim population will peak at under 10%, and that in a democracy, 10% cannot seize power from the remaining 90.

            But since when has reality ever troubled your fantasies?

          • Anton

            I was considering asking you the same question.

            “all demographic trends tell us that the Muslim population will peak at under 10%”

            Really? you might be supposing that I am talking about next year, or even next decade. I’m not – I’m talking about several decades ahead. Do the sums. And notice how few deeply committed people have been needed to enact a revolution, historically speaking.

          • Eustace

            The sums have been done and, as with all immigrant groups, the numbers of Muslims remain stable at under 10% for decades to come, and then start to fall as the Muslim community merges into the wider population.

            Only in the fantasies of Christians will Muslims ever form a majority in your country.

          • The Explorer

            “The sums have been done ” By whom?

          • Eustace

            Not by the Christian Institute For Scaremongering Via Racist and Unrealistic Extrapolation.

            Between 1951 and 1961, the number of people in Britain of West Indian origin grew from 15,000 to 172,000, an increase of 1,146%. Extrapolating this data would have predicted that in just 30 years the number would be just under 26 million.

            So in 1991, half of the British were West Indian? And now it must be something like 80%.

            How on earth do you manage to stay so pale?

            There are lies, damned lies and Christian statistics, in that order.

          • Anton

            It is necessary to look at both birthrates and immigration rates for each immigrant community and for the historic white community. Clearly your extrapolation for West Indians did not take changes to both into account. Let’s have the details of your sums.

          • The Explorer

            Your figures for West Indians might hold if the growth rate could be accounted for purely by birth rate. How much was accounted for by continued immigration? When immigration declined, what was the impact?

            African-Caribbeans in the UK are thought to be around 600, 000 today.

            In 1961 there were roughly 50 000 Muslims: around a third of the number of West Indians. By 1991, there were 950, 000. Today there are around 2, 706, 000.

            Taking 1961 as the baseline, a third as many Muslims as West Indians has become 4.5 times as many Muslims as West Indians. How do you account for this phenomenon?

          • bluedog

            In your country 25% of teenagers are Muslim. Why does this translate to a total Muslim population of 10%? Only wishful thinking can give you an answer of less than 50% in another two generations.

  • David

    Congratulations of preparing this lengthy, accurate and most useful summary of how the C of E got to where it is. Well done and thank you.
    As a conservative, orthodox and Biblically informed Anglican who fully supports Gafcon, the Jerusalem Declaration and the Anglican Mission to England and Reform I have been braced for some time for, what I see, as an inevitable schism of some sort. Biblically led Christianity will continue, survive and probably flourish whilst the liberal congregations will wither away within 50 years. England is following the North American pattern. I am at present moving myself between local churches to ensure that my centre of fellowship, worship and ministry is on the conservative, traditionalist side of the developing fault line. It is very sad but we were warned about this by Jesus.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Exactly so. The size of the CofE will not save it, it is more likely to tip it down the slippery slope.

  • Inspector General

    What a magnificent missal from our man Cranmer…Not much time available for the Inspector. He needs to read it again (and again) you see – it’s that brilliant as in shining light for all to see. So he will be brief…

    You don’t get many lines in the sand in Anglicanism at home, if indeed you get any at all. But here is one. The failure of the church to see homosexuality and also feminism for what they are, mental handicaps at worst, and unfortunate misguided traits of the mind at best, will do the church in.

    Better that Anglicanism just goes – goes forever, than to remain as a morally corrupt institution out to entrap our young into their so called progressives way of thinking. Be gone, you crowd, be gone and be gone, literally, for good.

    The churches, the stone and brick will remain, and so will the Christianity within these buildings, but it will be purer than before. The head of the beast will whither, die, and fall off, but the body. The body lives for ever, or until we run out of time as we surely must as a creation…as we have been told will happen.

  • Malcolm Smith

    Alexander Griswold has written an article pointing out how those churches which supported homosexuality have suffered dramatic losses in attendance.
    http://www.virtueonline.org/how-shrink-your-church-one-easy-step
    The average pew sitter is not stupid. When he hears teachings which are clearly not Biblical, he will get up go – hopefully to some other institution where the word of God really is preached.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The average pew-sitter is probably not a Christian (especially in the two biggest denominations in the UK), and is more than happy to stay where his/her itching ears will be scratched, rather than go where his/her personal choices are challenged by God’s truth about them.

      • Old Nick

        Because you in your Almighty Wisdom know which of us are Christians are which are not. Lord have mercy on me a sinner.

    • Eustace

      The average pew-sitter in a church that embraces homosexuality has probably been journeying towards functional atheism for many years. It’s a short step from affirming gay relationships in Christ to realizing that there is no Christ, therefore he can’t affirm anything.

      • bluedog

        If homosexuals are predominantly atheist, why would they want to get ‘married’ in a Christian ceremony?

  • Speaking as a lapsed Christian, I find Dr Ashenden’s traditional Christianity a great deal more inviting than today’s watered-down, endlessly apologetic version.

    Much as I dislike Judaism and Islam, I cannot but admire their unswerving belief in, and defence of, their faithful. By way of agonizing contrast, Christian leaders in the West have spent the last half-century and more betraying their faithful, first by welcoming Islam and now by worshipping diversity and equality. As you might expect, Dr Ashenden’s views on Islam are refreshingly honest, another agonizing contrast to the mitred cultural Marxists who are slicing away at Christianity, dutifully doing their bit to undermine the West.

    • Dominic Stockford

      You should try attending a Reformed free church. There are many that still preach truth, oppose error, and stand up for God’s Word – not many attend mind you, they’re all much happier having their itching ears scratched elsewhere. Tell me where you live and I’ll find a decent congregation near you.

      • @ Dominic Stockford—That is thoughtful of you, thank you. At present, I am in no mood to return to Christianity, let alone join a congregation. It strikes me that the multiculturalism that has been forced on the West shows up what may be a structural flaw (to use His Grace’s phrase) in Christianity itself, a flaw which other religions are now busy exploiting, running rings around Christianity and leaving it floundering. Needless to say, a floundering religion will have difficulty selling itself. I’d call the flaw extreme tolerance. I live in Southport, see this little video.

  • Uncle Brian

    Dr Ashenden is clearly addressing a specific group of people who are familiar with the ins and outs of the argument. For those of His Grace’s communicants who are not Gafcon insiders, it would be helpful to learn what, exactly, the Good Steward’s Trust in Southwark is and what it does. The business about “progressives” expecting “orthodox” or “traditional” Anglicans to carry on providing their financial support as though nothing had changed must surely be one of the key points here. It would be interesting to see this aspect dealt with at greater length.

  • Coniston

    1. ‘The whole ecological movement is rooted in a devotion to the feminine principle of Gaia.’ Not really. Admittedly, many in the ‘Green Movement’, if they are at all ‘spiritual’ do very often have an strong inclination towards pantheism; a few worship ‘the goddess’. But those who are scientists are usually agnostics, atheists – or Christians.
    2. ‘clergy whose ethics and world view are biblically orthodox, are marginalized and even blacklisted’. True – this applies to both Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. I have known several men who ought to be bishops, but are not – and it isn’t as though the CofE has a great pool of talent available.

    • Anton

      And I have encountered several men who were bishops, who ought not to have been.

      • Martin

        Anton

        There’s not a few who should have been excommunicated long ago.

  • Dominic Stockford

    J C Ryle warned, many years back now, that the Church of England was headed for disaster or for apostasy if it continued to ignore the truth of God’s Word in favour of following what men think. They didn’t listen to him then, look at things now!

  • preacher

    The one thing to remember is that God is not Welby, Williams, or any other man. Nor is he Cameron, or any other human being.
    His Word is not up for debate, changing, diluting or modernising. What He has said & been written by His people will come to pass. It will accomplish what He wants it to & not return void. He will judge all men in accordance to whether they have obeyed it or rejected it.
    No human, demon or the devil himself will be able to alter one letter of it without being judged.
    Ultimately it’s up to every individual to choose, there will be no excuses for anyone that we were misled by leaders. Each of us knows right from wrong. You & I must choose, before it’s too late.

  • Martin

    Well, actually those heretical bishops weren’t just temporary, they changed the structure, persuading others that it was no longer necessary to believe the Bible, the 39 Articles were out of date and it didn’t really matter what you believed. It wasn’t a breadth of spirituality that was accepted but a breadth of human ideas that had taken over from spirituality. No longer was the the dividing line ‘Thus saith the Lord’ but ‘unity, compromise and being together’

    The structure is broken, the rules have changed, the edifice has no foundation. Those Christians who are still in this city would be wise, like Lot, to leave and not look back.

  • HG, it must have taxed you greatly writing this. Thank you sharing it. As Jack can be obtuse, there is too much of worth here to take in to comment just yet. These are indeed testing times for all Christian Churches.

    • Anton

      Jack can indeed be obtuse as only the first three paragraphs were written by His Grace; the rest is by Dr Ashenden!

  • Eustace

    Don’t rile the poor man. He’s wearing adult diapers and if he starts to shake in anger there may be a leakage problem.

    He may not be worth it, but I’m sure the selfless people who brave his ire and condemnation to care for him every day are. They certainly won’t thank you for getting him all worked up!

    • Ivan M

      There are homosexuals such as Gore Vidal and Noel Coward who are sophisticated commentators on the cultural scene and then there are scum like you. I can tell the difference. You came here to gloat at the faith of a man in Jesus Christ and His Church..Your word plays mean nothing to me.

      • Eustace

        Way to go turning the other cheek and leaving judgment to God!

        So how did you get to be Britain’s best Christian? All that fruity goodness … anger, spite, harsh words, insults. Everything a real Christian should be! What better proof could anyone ask for of the perfecting nature of your faith?

        Hail o holy one! All who encounter you must be instantly converted. Why it’s almost as if you were the Second Coming himself…

      • Block him. This way you’ll never have to read his comments again. They are designed to provoke and ridicule. Ignore him.

      • sarky

        Except they obviously do.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    I remember a Star Trek (The Original Series) episode, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, which featured two contending aliens, both man-like. Of the first:

    Lokai’s most striking feature is that his skin is half black and half white, the two halves split perfectly down the center of his body. Science Officer Spock remarks that his physiology may be “one of a kind”.

    Shortly afterwards,

    . . . The second alien identifies himself as Bele. Like Lokai, Bele is half black and half white, with the color divided by a line through the exact center of his face. However, the sides of Bele’s black and white skin are reversed from those of Lokai, a difference which seems inconsequential to the Enterprise crew, but of great importance to Bele, Lokai, and, apparently, their civilization.

    Modern “gender theory” suggests that the differences between men and women are as shallow in significance as the colour reversal of those two aliens. If taken to the extreme, the end of the episode suggests where that might lead us.

    Kirk sadly allows the two aliens to chase each other down to their obliterated world (using the transporter) to decide their own fates, consumed by their now self-perpetuating mutual hate. Forlorn, Lt. Uhura asks if their hate is all they ever had. Kirk ruefully says, “No — but that’s all they have left.”

    • Anton

      Then modern gender theory is talking nonsense. A great deal of research has been done on sexual dimorphism in the developmental biology of the human brain. The differences are remarkable. The book Brainsex by Anne Moir and David Jessel made this point very clearly and was published as long as 25 years ago.

      • Dominic Stockford

        The book ‘Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars’ was rather good.

  • Ivan M

    Neither are you with your piss poor one liners.

    • sarky

      Yawn.

  • Don Benson

    Whenever an organisation goes off the rails you first have to look at its leadership. In the case of the Church of England that is now a disturbing thing to do because you clearly see a tormented figure. On the one hand you have a likeable, energetic and gifted man who cares desperately for the mission of his church. On the other hand you see someone who has been targeted, beguiled, captivated, stitched up and is now owned by those whose idea of mission is to make the most unholy fuss of the 1.5% of potential members who are same sex attracted.

    How could this have happened? I’m sorry to say that for a man who constantly proclaims his humility in tackling the job of Archbishop Justin Welby started out by exhibiting the most supreme hubris. When asked about his views on gay “marriage” in 2012 he said, ‘I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully.’ He seemed to think that, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, he was bound neither to believe nor uphold his own church’s (and therefore Biblical) doctrine on a supreme issue of the day; he would decide for himself, presumably even if that meant undermining a sizeable proportion of his clergy and congregations.

    Perhaps there was (and still is) too much rejoicing and adulation from evangelicals at his appointment and not enough prayer and good advice for someone whose experience since ordination was rather too short in time and narrow in breadth. It’s desperately sad and most acutely so for the younger generation, many of whom may be led into lives of confusion, misery and worse by the very church that should
    protect them.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Conservative Evangelicals did NOT rejoice at his appointment.

  • B flat

    Dr Ashenden’s lecture is very informative and inspirational. I really do wish him, and the souls under his care, well.
    However, he has his blind side, caused by historical (English) pietas towards the Established Church of England. Whatever it was in Tudor times, under Cranmer’s Archbishopric, or after the Civil War, or the Glorious Revolution, it certainly cannot now be called Catholic – as he says.
    However, no Catholic Church survives without bishops, and evangelical or other biblically conservative Christians, cannot claim to be a part of the Universal Church without them. Indeed, subscribing to the various agreements for shared ministry with other Protestant denominations treating all with parity (equality}, means that the Cof E has already ditched any Apostolic and Catholic understanding of the hierarchical priesthood, even without the damage done by depredations of zealouts of the LGBT lobby or rampant feminists.
    The Supreme Governor has chosen not to oppose by the slightest indication of disapproval, the relentless advance of this sexualist agenda in the CofE, so will these faithful continuing conservative Anglicans be anything but a sect, doomed to die, being given terminal care on the Liverpool pathway by the Church Establishment which does not want them? They say they won’t leave their Church, but they have no status, and no missionary possibility within it. They will end up being faithful to their own understanding of Anglicanism, rather than finding salvation within the Church of Christ. And they know where it is, and where it is not.

  • John

    Speaking as a vicar myself, any official move towards ‘gay weddings’ in church and, as they say in Dragon’s Den, “I’m out.” There will be thousands like me; clergy numbers will be nosedive, parish share will run dry, churches will empty, dioceses will go bust, and that will be that for the C of E.

    • Eustace

      Excellent news! So who do I speak to in order to put in a bid on Southwark Cathedral? Its close proximity to the fleshpots of Vauxhall make it the perfect location for a gay S&M sex club and devil worshippers’ coven.

      Of course the last bit is just as ridiculous as Christianity, but hey, if there’s a buck to be made from letting out the crypt to religious nutters, why not? There’ll have to be a no-human-sacrifice clause in the lease of course (don’t want any funny business with the law), but whatever they want to do that’s legal is fine by me.

      So any idea when the CofE will officially cease to exist? Timing a bid just right is half the battle in property development.

    • Dominic Stockford

      The only thing is, many said that before, at various stages, over various events, and then didn’t. I am not doubting your sincerity, but I do doubt that thousands will leave.

      • Anton

        They are tied by their salaries. John might be a brave exception, but that is why most would compromise.

        • IanCad

          Anton,
          That ” they must be perverts” quote of yours from the BBC still has me shaking my head.
          We’ve had it.

    • IanCad

      Abandoned churches, the people perish. We could be entering a new Dark Age.

  • jsampson45

    What a long article! I confess I have not read it all. But posting it here must be washing dirty linen in public. It seems to me there is nothing new here, just the outworking of what happens when a church is “broad”, giving a confused message. How do they intend to “repent of their clericalism and take counsel with the whole people of God”? Do these include non-Anglicans?

  • Albert

    Sorry to say, but this sort of thing is the logical conclusion of Anglicanism. The CofE was founded by the state. Of course, the state has lost interest now, but the CofE looks to the secular like a child to its mother – it’s the way its DNA is configured. Bravo to those Anglicans who try to resist this, but they really ought to belong to a different institution – those Anglicans who support following the latest regulation issue belief of the secular culture, are simply being consistent.

    • Anton

      It is the problem of an Established church in a society that has grown secular. Nothing to do with anything else. (Disclaimer: I’m not Anglican.)

      • Albert

        I think that any Established Church is likely to suffer from this temptation, but the problem with the CofE is that it is the creation of the establishment, and so following the society is not so much a temptation, it is its nature.

        • Anton

          With a Roman Catholic agenda, you would say that, of course.

          • Albert

            Unless you are stuck in the genetic fallacy, you will have to admit that it may just be true, even though I have “a Roman Catholic agenda”. Why not take the argument on its own merits? I’m not saying that an established Catholic Church will not have this temptation. On the contrary, I am saying that it is likely that it will. However, if a Church is the creation of the state, then clearly the temptation will be stronger.

            Is that argument so wrong? Does my being a Catholic of itself, make it wrong?

          • Anton

            No. But you are a long way from establishing your assertion and Cranmer regulars will know your agenda.

          • Albert

            Well then there’s hardly a problem is there? People know my stance, and can look at my position on its own terms. I suspect most people will think I don’t need to try to establish my assertion, since it will simply seem obvious.

          • Anton

            That’s fine, because I think it’s obvious that the root problem is Establishment in a secular society and nothing to do with the politicised way in which the CoE branched off from its equally politicised parent. The reader is free to decide.

          • Albert

            The problem is that an established Church will always be tempted to follow the state regardless of the direction of the state. But if the state has created the church, then the temptation will be so much the greater. The CofE has no history of not being established.

          • Anton

            Your first sentence is the point I am making. Your second is nonsense; the Anglican hierarchy has no respect for its history, or it wouldn’t be ravaged by liberalism, would it? Strained analogies with DNA prove nothing at all.

          • Albert

            Your second is nonsense; the Anglican hierarchy has no respect for its history, or it wouldn’t be ravaged by liberalism, would it?

            I don’t think you understand the CofE at all. The CofE’s liberalism is not in spite of its history, but because of its history. The liberalism just is the CofE following the secular. If the secular were not liberal, the CofE would not be liberal. Newman saw this 160 years ago – i.e. in and as a result of its history. There always was a kind of liberal wing of the CofE, although it was called latitudinarianism. Indeed, the US 18th BCP does all it can to expunge “irrational” doctrines like the Trinity. It’s all deep in the DNA.

          • Anton

            Back to half-baked analogies with molecular biology, then. I think you are blinded by your Catholic agenda.

          • Albert

            As usual, you aren’t answering the argument or the evidence I gave. In a world of constant flux, perhaps I should be reassured that some things are always the same.

          • Anton

            It is very hard to answer waffle.

          • Albert

            Maybe so, but it’s hard to see why you should say my post was waffle. Here’s a definition of waffle:

            speak or write at length in a vague or trivial manner.

            Now my post was only two sentences, and thus not waffle. The first sentence was simply a statement of fact, as anyone can see. The second was trivial, but no more trivial than the post you’ve put in reply. So, as it wasn’t waffle, I’m left thinking the reason you have found it hard to reply to is because you can’t.

          • Anton

            You may think what you like of my posts, as may readers about both of ours.

          • Albert

            Wow, you got to an ad populum in only about 10 posts, and only your third after you stopped responding to the evidence.

          • Anton

            There is no point in attempting dialogue with those who have deafened themselves. My aim, unless you heed what I say, is to prevent you misleading others.

          • Albert

            Well in that case, you probably ought to answer the arguments and evidence I cite. You made a historical claim which I could easily refute by pointing to Newman 160 years earlier. At that point you stopped answering and resorted to arguments – in fact, let’s face it, your posts on this have rarely risen above assertion and the ad hominem.

          • Anton

            I made my point, you gave a reply which I regard as insubstantial, so at that point I trust the reader to judge. Saying so necessarily involves ad homs, of course. I don’t mind if you do the same.

          • Albert

            I made my point, you gave a reply which I regard as insubstantial, so at that point I trust the reader to judge.

            Of course you regard it as insubstantial. Anything you don’t agree with is insubstantial according to you. But if your purpose is to expose the fallacies of my posts, why don’t you show why you think they are insubstantial? After all, if someone can work it out for themselves, they can do so without your ad homs. But if they can’t work it out for themselves, your constant ad homs are only going to convince them that the reason you don’t give proper answers is because you can’t. Thus your position makes little sense.

          • Anton

            When one considers that the other has lost a public-forum argument but won’t stop using words, one has no alternative but to appeal to the reader with ad homs. You and I believe that the reader will come to different conclusions; let it be so.

          • Albert

            And those readers, noting that you have not answered arguments I gave will be unlikely to agree that it is me who has lost the argument…

          • Anton

            I’m sure you believe that. Naturally I disagree, or I’d give them more info. But if we each believe that intellectually honest readers will take our own point of vie then there is little more worth saying.

          • Albert

            I think you’re in some sort of solipsism here. Readers will either be able to judge for themselves that my arguments are bad, in which case they don’t need your ad homs, or if they can’t judge that, they will judge by your lack of response that my arguments are good.

          • Anton

            Then I’ll have to respond. I go unapologetically ad hominem on you because I consider that you have blinded yourself with your Roman Catholic agenda, and I trust readers to see this for themselves once I’ve put the hypothesis in play.

          • Albert

            Well, if they are Catholics themselves, they are not likely to see that. If they are not Catholics then there are several possibilities. If they can “see through my comment”, as you think they should be able to, then they do not need your ad hominem. If they have blinded themselves by their Protestant agenda for example, as I think you have, then no comment is needed from you: no argument from me, however strong, will convince them. If they are not blinded by their own agenda, but “cannot see through” my argument, then they may be convinced or challenged by my argument, and your failure to rise above an ad hominem will strengthen that conviction.

            Thus your failure to answer my argument just looks like that: failure.

            It’s difficult to see why anyone would follow your line of reasoning. Everyone knows that from the first, the CofE simply followed the state: Henry VIII gave a muddled mix of Catholicism and Anglicanism, Edward VI handed down a very Protestant version, Elizabeth I a kind of broadness that seemed more interested in simply keeping people part of the CofE than in proclaiming a particular position, the Stuarts went in a more Catholic direction, even to the degree of ejecting the puritans, in the 18th Century, Anglicanism was affected enlightenment thinking, Latitudinarism became the effective position (although Latitudinarism was not an innovation of 18th Century) – at its most extreme point in the US, trying to expunge the Trinity from the BCP as being contrary to reason.

            Is it any wonder then, that in the 19th Century, Newman was able to see that the CofE would simply follow the liberalising, secular culture of the day, not just because it was established, but because it was created exactly to follow whatever the state was about, and had always done so.

            Now, if you honestly think that all that evidence is answered only by an ad hominem, then I think you have blinded yourself by your own agenda. You can of course disagree with my argument, but saying all this evidence is merely a creation of my Catholic agenda is just bizarre.

          • Anton

            “Newman was able to see that the CofE would simply follow the liberalising, secular culture of the day, not just because it was established, but because it was created exactly to follow whatever the state was about”

            I do not dispute your summary of how and why the the church in England repudiated papal authority and reorganised itself autonomously. But I question how you or Newman or anybody else can be certain of the proposition you have stated here. Your own best attempt involved nothing more than an absurd analogy with DNA.

          • Albert

            But I question how you or Newman or anybody else can be certain of the proposition you have stated here.

            Certain? Who said anything about certainty? You don’t normally make certain judgements when interpreting historical data. If you set up certainty as the bar then of course my argument fails, but then so does any historical interpretation. It’s just about being reasonable. Judgements are not normally about black and white thinking, but about weighing the evidence and drawing conclusions.

            Your own best attempt involved nothing more than an absurd analogy with DNA.

            Now you must know that isn’t true. The DNA is simply a metaphor to illustrate the argument, it is plainly not the argument itself. The argument itself is

            (1) The CofE was created for the needs of the state, specifically to allow Henry to put away Catherine and other state benefits followed.

            There were other factors, in the creation of the CofE of course, such as those who used the situation to push a Protestant agenda, but no one understanding Henry’s reign will dispute the basic truth of 1, since without 1. the CofE would not have come to exist.

            (2) The CofE has repeatedly shown its nature as being one of following the state.

            You do not dispute this either – except perhaps for the use of the word “nature”, though why you would dispute this, under the circumstances is unclear (and no evidence or reasoning has been given), particularly given that following the state (usually the monarch) is inbuilt into the very nature of the CofE by virtue of the monarch being the supreme governor. And this is not something it has acquired somewhere along the way, it was there from the first, as being the reason for it in the first place.

            Therefore, I said:

            I think that any Established Church is likely to suffer from this temptation, but the problem with the CofE is that it is the creation of the establishment, and so following the society is not so much a temptation, it is its nature.

            Now again, you can disagree with my position, but I think that if you think other readers will simply dismiss it as my Catholic agenda, you are surely wrong. I have given numerous examples, which any literate person will already know are true.

            What have you given? You have given some ad homs and disputed (without) argument, an analogy I used, manifestly confusing, in the process, my use of that analogy.

          • Anton

            An Established church is going to feel the pull of the world opposing the pull of scripture to a far greater extent than a nonconformist church. It is, therefore, far more likely to compromise. You can see this going on over gay marriage today. Here is an instantly graspable explanation for such compromises, one which is far more plausible than waffle about the 500-year-old schism with Rome over Henry VIII’s divorce mystically exerting an effect on churchmen today. Do explain how.

            Unless you can do this, the fact that Rome was theologically in the right on that occasion is irrelevant. I await a better explanation than “spiritual genetics”.

          • Albert

            An Established church is going to feel the pull of the world opposing the pull of scripture to a far greater extent than a nonconformist church.

            This is what I said originally:

            I think that any Established Church is likely to suffer from this temptation, but the problem with the CofE is that it is the creation of the establishment, and so following the society is not so much a temptation, it is its nature.

            Now it is evident that what I said originally is entirely consistent with your statement here. But is your statement actually true? The evidence is that it all depends. The United Reformed Church, for example, is a non-confirmist church, but permits same-sex “marriages”. The Methodist Church is discussing the question. There are Baptist Churches who have liberal views on homoseuxality, and of course, it is from the nonconformists that we can that greatest form of syncretism: Unitarianism. In contrast, the CofE is established, but has not gone so far as some of these nonconfirmists and at most agree only with the moral question of same-sex relationships, not the question of marriage. The Catholic Church is established in many parts of the world, but disagrees with both points.

            Thus, your point of view does not seem correct. Clearly, an non-confirmist church can simply be more open to being pushed around by the world. The reality seems much more complicated that your assertion allows. In short, it seems obvious that some non-confirmist churches feel the secular draft.

            Secondly, you conflate two different kinds of establishment. Church of England establishment is erastian – it subordinates the Church to the state, and even allows the state to legislate for the Church. Catholic establishment works the other way: the state is expected to recognize and establish the Catholic faith and religion. Now clearly, there can be a political conflict there if the Catholic Church worries about losing their benefits of establishment, but what you don’t get is the Catholic Church changing her teaching at the behest of the state.

            So your argument fails – because it rests on a bogus and ultimately false assumption and requires confusion over the nature of establishment.

            the 500-year-old schism with Rome over Henry VIII’s divorce mystically exerting an effect on churchmen today. Do explain how.

            As I have shown, it means that, by its very nature the CofE looks to the state. You seem not to realise that there are members of the CofE who would boast and have boasted in precisely the point I am making – it’s what used to be called “Toryism”. The fact that the CofE retains the essential elements of government by the state keeps this position in play. For example, in the parliamentary debate over women bishops, some MPs threatened to overrule Synod if Synod did not agree with women bishops. This was then turned into an argument in the CofE for women bishops: if the CofE rejects women bishops, the CofE will either have to have women bishops imposed on it, or will lose establishment. But such an argument would never have any traction in a Catholic establishment.

            So the position I gave at the beginning is a much better explanation that yours:

            1. It explains a huge amount of historical and contemporary evidence.
            2. It explains why Catholic Churches do not change their faith and moral teaching even when they are established.
            3. It does not rest on claims contradicted by evidence (like An Established church is going to feel the pull of the world opposing the pull of scripture to a far greater extent than a nonconformist church).

          • Anton

            There are, it is true, different subcategories of Establishment. Where a hierarchy has political power, it will come under temptation from the world, and the more politicised the church the greater the problem. Establishment is a very explicit way. But the staggering corruption which the almost totally politicised Church of Rome itself acknowledged in the Consilium… de Emendanda Ecclesia document written in the same decade as Henry VIII’s schism was so embarrassing that one of its authors, after becoming Pope Paul IV, placed it on the Index of books that Catholics were forbidden to read. Can’t have the ‘laity’ knowing the truth about the ordained priesthood, can we?

            As for secularism today getting into your denomination, I trust you are enjoying Pope Francis’ innovative approach to doctrine.

          • Albert

            The issue here is not about human sinfulness (which let’s face it, hardly needs establishment to function), it is about whether the Church changes its doctrine to agree with the world. Now, as usual, you have not addressed any of the arguments I gave in answer to yours.

            As for secularism today getting into your denomination, I trust you are enjoying Pope Francis’ innovative approach to doctrine.

            The Church’s doctrine is just the same as it was before. Whatever failings an individual Catholic may feel this pope’s presentation has or has not, he hasn’t changed the Church’s fundamental teaching.

          • Anton

            Yet.

            “The issue here is…”

            You do not have sole rights to determine what the issue is in a dialogue with somebody else.

          • Albert

            You do not have sole rights to determine what the issue is in a dialogue with somebody else.

            Indeed, not, but in saying “the issue is”, I am referring to the issue set by the OP, namely that what is being considered is a structural flaw in the institution’s position on basic teaching (in this case moral teaching), as opposed to the weakness of an individual (or lack of faith of an individual). My points have only been addressed to that issue.

            If you wish to change the subject, feel free, but do make it clear, and don’t expect me to join you, and certainly, please don’t judge my existing comments by a standard which is external to the discussion I was having. Otherwise you will be guilty of moving the goalposts.

    • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

      Actually the CofE was not founded by the State. One of the unusual historical facts is that the actual Church of England existed before England did as there are records of the Kings of Mercia giving assets to the Church oif England before there was such a thing as England as a State.

      • Albert

        The Church of England, as a body with an autonomous (from the rest of the Church) leadership but subordinate to the monarch, is a creation of the 16th Century Tudor state. The fact that there was a Church in England prior to that time, which held property does not falsify this claim.

        • Stephen Leacock

          And what is wrong with that?

          The ‘Church’ has tended to have a close association with the state, whether one looks at the David monarchy, that of Armenia or even later, that of St. Constantine.

          Even under the old Pagan Roman Emperors, the bishops still looked to righteous Emperors to solve their disputes.

          Anabaptist separatism is far worse than the alternative.

          • Albert

            Several things are wrong with it. Firstly, only Christ can found the Church, the state cannot. Secondly, the Church cannot be governed by the state. Thirdly, when the Church is governed by the state or is too close to the state, there is a risk that the Church will by unfaithful – no one can serve two masters.

            That does not mean that Church and state shouldn’t work together – as a Catholic I believe the state has a duty to look to the Church for teaching.

          • Stephen Leacock

            But of course Henry VIII did not ‘found’ the Church, nor did St. Constantine the Great. It was there before them, though they did seek to promote bishops of the correct theological views to battle then widespread heresies.

          • Albert

            St Constantine the Great? Are you Greek Orthodox?

            But of course Henry VIII did not ‘found’ the Church

            He did not, but he did ‘found’ the Church of England – therein lies the problem.

            did seek to promote bishops of the correct theological views to battle then widespread heresies.

            Henry promoted bishops who would promote his own interests – which is rather different.

          • Stephen Leacock

            I am ecumenical!

            Also I have seen Anglican churches with St. Constantine on the windows (probably in Yorkshire come to think of it, which explains a lot).

            Henry did not found the Church of England, he merely set in motion its restoration.

          • Albert

            I am ecumenical!…Henry did not found the Church of England, he merely set in motion its restoration.

            You’re a Protestant. In saying the things you do, you exclude yourself (and perhaps you are quite happy with that, but you do exclude yourself) from Catholicism and Orthodoxy. In view of the fact that these are the two most ancient bodies, and that together they represent about 2/3 of Christians, that might be thought to be not at all ecumenical!

      • chiaramonti

        Irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that the Church in England had recognised the primacy of the Bishop of Rome for centuries. Cranmer was himself invested as A of C by the Pope – not that he remained loyal to his oath of obedience for very long. Interestingly, as is well known, only one bishop opposed the statutory changes which created the C of E we know today. As Fisher put it – “The Fort has been betrayed by them that should have defended it.” Perhaps Fisher was right. The experience of the Church under Edward VI and Mary Tudor led to every bishop under the new Queen Elizabeth I ( with the exception of Carlisle) either resigning his see or being deposed. They must’ve had a good idea where things were going. Not much hope of any bishop today standing up for orthodoxy by resigning his (or her) see if the C of E (as it will) approves or tolerates same sex so called marriage.

    • Rhoda

      It’s the logical conclusion of ignoring scripture concerning church structure and ordination.

      • Albert

        The point is well made in the OP that once you ordain women, it’s hard to resist other demands of the secular.

        • Anton

          Perhaps so but once you ordain men, it’s hard to resist other deviations from scripture.

          • Albert

            So ordination is a deviation from scripture? It may be a deviation from Anton, but that is not the same thing.

          • Anton

            Nonsense. The NT is explicit that all believers are priests (Rev 1:6, 1 Peter 2:9 – “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood”). The rite of ordination in your denomination and the CoE ordains the candidate “as a priest” with the unambiguous and antiscriptural implication that he wasn’t one beforehand. I wouldn’t have been able to make that argument if the wording of the rite were different, but it is as it is: counterscriptural.

          • Albert

            Nonsense. The NT is explicit that all believers are priests (Rev 1:6, 1 Peter 2:9 – “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood”).

            We hold that all believers are priests in the same sense as scripture. It’s even in our doctrinal formulae.

            The rite of ordination in your denomination and the CoE ordains the candidate “as a priest” with the unambiguous and antiscriptural implication that he wasn’t one beforehand.

            He is ordained to the ministerial priesthood. The implication is only that he wasn’t a ministerial priest beforehand.

            I wouldn’t have been able to make that argument if the wording of the rite were different, but it is as it is: counterscriptural.

            No. You wouldn’t have been able to make that argument if you bothered to find out what Catholics actually believe, first.

          • Anton

            I bothered to find the wording of your rite of ordination. Why then doesn’t that rite specify that the candidate is ordained “as a ministerial priest”? (Please do answer that specific question.) The fact that he is simply “ordained as a priest” clearly implies he was not viewed by Rome as a priest beforehand. If I hear someone saying he is a Catholic and I ask him if he is a priest, then unless he is ordained he invariably says no. I am friends (from university 30 years ago) with a Catholic ordained priest, one who is far from liberal in his theology, and he never refers to non-ordained Catholics as priests. The hierarchy is well aware that pew Catholics don’t view themselves as priests, despite your doctrinal formulae, and do nothing to correct it, do they? That doctrine receives mere lip service.

          • Albert

            I bothered to find the wording of your rite of ordination. Why then doesn’t that rite specify that the candidate is ordained “as a ministerial priest”? (Please do answer that specific question.)

            Yes it does. Which rite are you looking at? Can you give a link?

            The hierarchy is well aware that pew Catholics don’t view themselves as priests, despite your doctrinal formulae, and do nothing to correct it, do they?

            That simply isn’t true. The doctrine of the common or baptismal priesthood is taught in the liturgy of Sunday Mass, and a moment’s googling brought up several Vatican documents on the subject. It is to be found in the Catechism and in Vatican II – and that’s just what comes to mind.

            Doubtless you will just raise the bar so as not to lose face…

  • Thank you, your Grace, for a very interesting article.
    One has to feel for the Reverend Dr Ashendon because his diagnosis is spot on.
    Unfortunately his prescription is faulty.
    Staying in the C of E will get evangelicals nowhere. The battle for the soul of the Church of England has been fought and Satan has won it. The candlestick has been removed. Blessings for same-sex ‘marriages’ will be passed by Synod and then those who refuse to conduct them will be sued by militant homosexuals.
    Next year will be the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. The time has come for another Reformation where the faithful believers in the big denominations come out and join with their brethren in the free churches. Why on earth would you stay in a denomination that despises you, is utterly determined to push through its agenda and will eventually force you to conform unless you leave? That the path is difficult cannot be denied, but we have read to the end of the Book and we know who wins the last battle. ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:22).

  • Royinsouthwest

    Indeed, if you meet an Orthodox Christian, very often the first thing they ask you is: “Which apostle founded your Church? Was it St Peter in Rome, or St Mark in Alexandria, or St Thomas in India?”. In our case it was both St Peter and St Paul – because it was founded by the evangelistic mission that Peter’s successor Pope Gregory sent out in 597 to Kent. The early Church was founded on the Apostolic Patriarchates of Jerusalem – Antioch, Alexandria, Rome and later Constantinople.

    It doesn’t matter to everyone, …

    You aren’t trying to write the Celtic Church out of history, are you Cranmer? Christianity was already flourishing in Britain, including England, before Augustine arrived in Kent.

    • bluedog

      ‘Christianity was already flourishing in Britain, including England, before Augustine arrived in Kent.’

      But possibly only in Roman encampments before say, the Council of Nicaea in 325AD.

      • IanCad

        bluedog,

        When Augustine arrived in 597AD Apostolic Christianity had spread quite widely throughout Britain – primarily from Ireland. The Papacy didn’t like this one bit; thus Augustine’s brief to bring all under the thrall of Rome.

        • bluedog

          Thank you.

      • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

        Probably NOT just in Roman encampments.

        In Chester the Church is still there by the city walls that pre-existed the Cathedral built by Augustine supporters precisely because the other Church didn’t agree with giving allegiance to the Pope and the early records show that the original diocese or parish stretched south into Gloucestershire so it was huge.

        Similarly St Albans pre-existed Augustine’s arrival and declined to give allegiance to the Pope so St Augustine got rid of the St Albans diocese (it was Henry VIII who reinstated it in his less than good reorganisation of the Church).

        St Patrick’s Father was a priest in the Church (before St Augustine) when he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland and St Patrick himself might have had some role in the Church, so the existence of the CofE pre-dates St Augustine and the Church itself didn’t necessarily come from Ireland.

        In the Ven Bede’s book of St Augustine he says that one of the first things St Augustine did on arriving in England is to meet the Bishops. A clever person then asks who were these Bishops that were already here when St Augustine arrived and talked to them?

        • bluedog

          ‘A clever person then asks who were these Bishops that were already here when St Augustine arrived and talked to them?’

          Answer – possibly descendants of clergy ordained by Palladius who is reported to have been sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine I in 431AD.

          The name Chester derives from the Latin Castra, a camp or fort. Thus any church at Chester is likely to have its origins in the Roman garrison there. But does this church precede Nicaea?

          • For your information, three ‘bishops’ or overseers of the British churches attended a Synod at Arles in France in AD 314. Their names were Eborius of York, Restitutus of London and Adelphius who may have come from Lincoln. This tells us that Christianity had spread and was established over much of Britain, and its leaders were well-known enough to receive invitations to conferences. British church leaders attended another synod in 354, this time at Rimini, and in greater numbers. All but three of them were sufficiently well-off to be able to waive their expenses for the trip.
            Early British Christianity did not long survive the recalling of the Roman legions around 400AD. England was overrun by Jutes Angles and Saxons who were all pagans. The Gospel came again down from Scotland and Roman Catholicism with Augustine.

          • Dull Person

            Yes, the origin of the Church of England was one of the few nits I had to pick with this otherwise excellent piece.

            The earliest certain reference to the Church in Britain is by Tertillian in about 200AD. There are some hints that the church was founded in the age of the apostles. Pseudo-Hippolytus states that Aristobulus (mentioned in Romans 16) was sent out to be Bishop of Britain (see http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0524.htm ), and several other early writers also report on this tradition. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristobulus_of_Britannia offers a good summary). If so (which is not certain, since the earliest records are a little late, but still represent the best evidence we have — there are also separate traditions about the founding of the British Church related to Joseph of Arimathea in the mid 40s and Lucius king of Britain in about 130AD, both of which are also disputed to say the least), then the Celtic Church also arose from Peter and Paul, who would have sent out Aristobulus from Rome to found the episcopacy in the province of Britannia. If true, then from this root, the Celtic Church spread out beyond the bounds of the Roman province to fill the whole Island, but was pushed out to the margins by the invasion of the English, before launching a mission back into England to re-evangelise the country.

            The Church of England, of course, resulted from the merger of the Celtic and Canterbury missions to the English, as sealed in the Synods of Whitby and Hertford. But both of these streams have apostolic roots (Canterbury certainly does; the Celtic stream almost certainly does).

            So I think the writer was right to emphasise the apostolicity of the Church of England ad he even named the right apostles; the picture is just a little more complicated than he implied.

          • bluedog

            Thank you.

    • chiaramonti

      Possibly. But not with women priests or homosexual bishops.

  • Orwell Ian

    Revelation 3 1-6:

    ‘To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

    These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • IanCad

    Yes!! There it is! The good Dr. Gavin has it nailed. The heart of the matter: The metastasis of “EQUALITY.”
    That wretched banality of progressive minds – the enlightened – the more intelligent – the highly educated – those denied even a lick of commonsense.
    More than that, it denies Creation, for surely, would not God have stopped at Adam?
    The law of the land is Homo marriage. As far as I know, churches are exempt from having to perform the ceremony. If we accept that in the fair and equal economic treatment of its subjects, same-sex marriage was a remedy for the travails of those couples who wished to enter into a civil contract, which, essentially, is the definition of a secular marriage, then we should live with it.
    Problem is, equalitarians are never satisfied. They tolerate no dissent, nor neutrality. We must embrace and celebrate and promote the cause. Those who do not will be dealt with.

    • Dominic Stockford

      You are right – there will be an issue coming up however – some have taken the case of the CofE to the European Court for the right to be ‘married’ in a church which does not wish to do so, who no doubt will rule in their favour eventually and after much money being spent. Others of us, among the Free Churches, who seek to adhere to Scripture, have begun taking steps to avoid this issue being forced on us against our will (non-members demanding ‘service’ from us that only members should have) – placing clear statements on our websites, changing our relationship to the Registrar’s Office, and so on.

      • IanCad

        Thanks Dominic, I have not kept up.

      • Uncle Brian

        That looks to me as though you may perhaps only be shifting the problem one step further away from you. There’s such a thing as entryism, formerly known as infiltration. How careful are you (or are you allowed to be) about the people you admit as members? Can you be absolutely certain that there aren’t two men, or two women, among your present membership who are already scheming to threaten you with a lawsuit?

        • Dominic Stockford

          At the moment we don’t actually have ‘membership’ – and the details of the trust deed mean that in fact probably only the trustees and myself can make claim to being such. However, you are right – but in a small Free church congregation, with a clearly defined statement about the nature of marriage, we have done all we can do. I doubt anyone would want to try and be married in our church in such circumstances anyway – they’d wouldn’t enjoy the sermon one bit if they managed to force it to happen!

    • Nightblogger

      In the C of E the cry for accommodation is coming from gay members of the Church and their supporters, ie not from some outside equalitarians but from ordinary Christians who don’t think the old (homophobic?) certainties are relevant. If you don’t like same-sex marriage don’t get married to someone of the same-sex as you. No priest or congregation should be forced to offer accommodation, but those who wish to should be permitted to do so.

  • Dominic Stockford

    J C Ryle: “The English Church must either have ‘doctrinal limits’ or cease to exist.”

    Charges and Addresses: pps336-7

  • jsampson45

    “Lewis believed there are times when you can only access the Kingdom of heaven by repenting – turning round.” I think our Lord taught that there was no other way.

  • Merchantman

    I have heard this stuff with my own ears in my local Cof E establishment from the female curate on the subject of the Marriage at Cana. Ready to walk and shake off the dust. I shall do this with great sadness.

    • Do it, Mr Merchantman. ‘Come out and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch the unclean thing, and I will receive you’ (2 Cor. 6:17).
      There are several on-line lists of good evangelical churches. Just put your home town in here and see what comes out.
      https://churches.evangelical-times.org/

  • mollysdad

    When you see the Church gaying itself, you see a sure sign that it believes less than all that God has revealed, and is thereby a faithless institution. God’s truth includes the proposition that homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity, and that under no circumstances can they be condoned.

    • Guglielmo Marinaro

      What the hell does “gaying itself” mean?

      • Stephen Leacock

        Too much time with personal grooming, a penchant for jewelry, tight pants and an over-affection for musical theatre.

        • Guglielmo Marinaro

          LOL.

  • jsampson45

    The author here says that heretical bishops come and go. What does not come and go is that they are seen to get away with it. What C of E church persons say come over as mere matters of opinion. One says this, another says that.

  • My impression is that there are three types of Anglican churches preparing to leave the C of E.

    There are those that will become Free churches, calling themselves St. Bogwena’s Free Grace Church or whatever, possibly joining the FIEC or a similar body. You can tell these if the Vicar has abandoned his clerical dress recently and cut down on the liturgy. He’s softening the congregation up for the great Departure. The problem is that such churches will have to leave their church premises and take up residence in a suitable hall or school gymnasium.
    Then there are those who are going to swap their current Bishop or Archbishop for a Nigerian one and claim to be the authentic Anglican Church in the UK in that they still follow the XXXIX Articles. They may change the locks on their church building and hope to stay in it. Good luck with that.
    Finally, there are those like Rev’d Ashendon who want to stay in the C of E, and be a sort of ecclesiola in ecclesia, a little church within a big one. This won’t work IMO because as soon as the C of E decide to have a service of blessing for same-sex marriages, these churches are going to have to hold such services or be sued by militant homosexuals.
    Whatever these churches decide, I wish them well. I believe that Option One is the best and most honouring to God, but not the most comfortable. But it is vitally important that they do leave. The current situation is bringing shame and disrespect to the Name of God.

    • Stephen Leacock

      The question is whether leaving is actually the best idea.

      I would agree that unity uber alles is not the proper response (some say unity is the most central element of the Anglican Communion, if that were more than self serving nonsense then surely everyone would still be listening to the Bishop of Rome)

      It may be better to remain inside and fight one’s corner, as in the long run the liberals are not sustainable.

      • My friend,
        If you’re ‘in it to win it’ how come you keep losing all the time? The liberals are sustainable because they’ve got your money.
        So long as the evangelicals stay in, the trumpet will sound an uncertain voice. It is absolutely vital that you come out and do it quickly because the longer you delay the lower the cause of Christ is sinking. How long are you going to attend church councils and diocesan meetings with people who deny the truth of the Bible and the resurrection of Christ? How long are you going to meet and pray with them and call them “brother”? ‘Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore the wrath of God is upon you’ (2 Chronicles 19:2).

  • Janetreply

    Reverend Ashenden’s insistence on the importance of marriage being for one man with one woman, a holy and honoured institution in the sight of God, would have more integrity if it reflected his own life. The fact that he is divorced and remarried and has three children with two different women (thereby depriving the first two of that “daily contact with their natural parent”) never seems to be included in his recent writing. The fact that Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality certainly doesn’t imply He approved of it. However, He was very clear on divorce and remarriage. If marriage is sacred in the eyes of God, then the Rev Ashenden may not be the best person to speak on that sacred bond.
    Also, the students that the Reverend spoke to at the University were speaking to him as their priest, as well as their friend – I know this because for a short time, I was a student there. This must have been particularly true for those struggling young women who discussed their confused feelings with him. They spoke to him, in confidence, as their priest. I am sure they would be as horrified as I was to read their words and stories used on the open Internet in this way. That the Rev Ashenden’s views have changed is not a problem. However, the change in his integrity is a different matter.