Welby Percy
Church of England

The great canon doctor Martyn Percy implicates Justin Welby in "secular sorcery"

 

“Everything you need to know about the Bible can be summed up by the great canon doctor Martyn Percy: ‘The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.’,” writes Dan Brown in his crypto-conspiratorial Da Vinci Code, making the Rev’d Canon Professor Martyn Percy the only living theologian to be so honoured (if it be). Unfortunately, the blueprint for the Church didn’t arrive by fax, either, hence nigh-on 2,000 years of ecclesial disputations and doctrinal divides about who has the administrative and spiritual authority to do what, when, how and why.

The Very Rev’d Professor Martyn Percy isn’t particularly keen on the direction the Church of England is taking under the leadership of the Most Rev’d and Rt Hon Justin Welby: ‘Top cleric says Church of England risks becoming a “suburban sect”‘, blazes the Guardian, which is a fitting channel of peace, given that it is the favoured organ of ‘top clerics’ everywhere (except possibly Shrewsbury); and so the principal “suburban sect” to whom the message is proclaimed is the narrow one which prefers to pore over socialist rags in its quiet time, or meditate on the “theology of where I am coming from” rather than on matters of righteousness, holiness, morality and salvation.

Professor Percy thinks the Church of England is being “driven by mission-minded middle managers”. Quite why ‘mission-minded’ is juxtaposed disdainfully with ‘middle managers’ isn’t entirely clear: is his problem with a church being mission-minded or with it being led by middle managers? Would it be acceptable to be mission-minded if it were driven by senior managers? Or is the objection to any kind of managers at all? Perhaps the complaint is aimed at the fact that Justin Welby is mission-minded. Can one be Christian without being mission-minded? Is it possible to be mission-minded without having a strategy to manage the mission? Where would we be without the form-filling and reflexive assessment? Or is it simply the manner of the Welby mission which Percy considers somewhat misshapen for the Established Church?

Whatever, he is persuaded that this approach is alienating clergy, congregations and the general public. In the afterword of his new book, The Future Shapes of Anglicanism: Currents, Contours, Charts (ooh! charts!), he opines about: “..centralised management, organisational apparatus and the kind of creeping concerns that might consume an emerging suburban sectarianism, instead of a national church.”

Gosh.

You’d think all ‘top clerics’ might be appreciative of any initiative which is aimed at halting chronic decline. The question is whether the ‘Renewal and Reform’ programme is the way to go about it. Professor Percy set out his criticisms of the Green Report back in 2014:

The report expects to see all senior leaders equipped with a standard toolkit of MBA-type organisational skills. But it does not say how this might connect with the primary calling of bishops as “shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles”. Or what the implications for public ministry might be if bishops now move from being chief pastors to chief executives. Despite the report’s stated aspiration to increase diversity in senior leadership (much needed), there seems to be no space for the bishop as scholar, evangelist, contemplative, theologian, prophet, or pastor. Or scope for senior church leaders who might be visionaries, risk-takers, and pioneers.

Martyn Percy is obviously no prophet: he has far too much honour in his own college for that. But he is a visionary, if not a risk-taker. His beef is (very justifiably) with MBA-style management courses for bishops; the fast-tracking of a ‘talent pool‘; and an obsession with church plants (which are invariably urban and Evangelical-charismatic [ie HTB-inclined]). For the great canon doctor Martyn Percy, this whole mission strategy is profoundly awry: “It will take more to save the Church of England than a blend of the latest management theory, secular sorcery with statistics and evangelical up-speak,” he writes.

“Secular sorcery” is harsh; very harsh. Justin Welby may be CEO of CofE plc, but he was never a student at Hogwarts; even less of the House of Slytherin. He has no particular expertise in charms, potions, magic or rune-reading. And as for ‘secular’.. well, Professor Percy manages Christ Church College, Oxford. Before that, he managed Ripon College Cuddesdon (or perhaps he left the managing to the Rev’d Professor Mark Chapman). Christ Church is a constituent college of Oxford University; Cuddesdon a theological college for the training of Anglican clergy. Is it possible to lead any organisation without ‘managing’ it, and, if not, why is it so objectionable to incorporate the best insights the world has to offer? Can nothing good come out of ‘secular’ theory? Is Weber so utterly crass and irredeemably superficial as to be devoid of application in the Body of Christ?

The Guardian summarises:

A cure for the ailing church “would require a much deeper ecclesial comprehension than the present leadership currently exhibit… There seems to be no sagacity, serious science or spiritual substance to the curatives being offered.” Rather, he says, the church “is being slowly kettled into becoming a suburban sect, corralling its congregations, controlling its clergy and centralising its communication. Instead of being a local, dispersed, national institution, it is becoming a bureaucratic organisation, managing its ministry and mission – in a manner that is hierarchically scripted.”

Bishops are forced to operate like area managers, with targets set by headquarters rather than by spiritual pastors. He writes that the archbishop, a former oil industry executive, “has set about reforming and renewing the Church of England with a zeal and zest more usually associated with secular management consultants”.

Percy says those who declare themselves to be non-religious “will not be won over to return to the church by increasingly organisational, theologically narrow and vogueish sectarian expressions of faith”. Instead there needed to be “a broad church – capacious and generous”. Narrow Anglicanism “is almost a contradiction in terms. It is the breadth that defines Anglican polity. And it is the breadth that will save it.”

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams once observed of his successor: “Justin is, frankly, immeasurably better than I ever was at prioritising. He clearly knows where he wants to put his primary energies, and I was always much too ready to say Yes to this and Yes to that.” These are questions certainly of character and temperament, but they are also matters of business and assignment. Justin Welby is succeeding where Rowan Williams failed because his approach to doing mission chimes with the times, and, for all the theological cross-currents and intellectual tensions, those times are inclining more toward pragmatic evangelicalism than establishment liberalism.

The Church of England was once referred to as being “crucified between two thieves” – a reference to the respective fanaticism and superstition of “the Puritans and the Papists”. There is a modern parallel with a church now suspended between the decline in institutional religion and the burgeoning of generalised spirituality; between the secularisation of society and the plurality of faith communities. The contemporary context is marked by diversity, fragmentation and all that is transitory; beliefs and practices are culturally relative, and Anglicanism has ceased to be supra-cultural or catholic.

The Church has always struggled with the tension between the affirmation and assimilation of culture, and the call of the gospel to confront and transform it. American theologian H Richard Niebuhr outlined five possible relationships between the gospel and culture, which are the typical answers given in Christian history. There is Christ against culture; of culture; above culture; with culture in paradox; and Christ the transformer of culture. Each model of mission generates different understandings of the purpose and function of the Church. But each finds its expression in the ‘broad church’ via media that is the Church of England – which incorporates Protestants, Evangelicals, conservatives, liberals, Anglo-Catholics, and permutations of various fusions of these held ‘in tension’.

Historically, some archbishops have viewed culture as antagonistic to the gospel, and adopted a confrontational approach. Others have seen culture as being essentially ‘on our side’, adopting the anthropological model of contextualisation, looking for ways in which God has revealed himself in culture and building on those.

Those who adopt the ‘Christ of culture’ model have a syncretic approach and incline toward a mediating third way, keeping culture and faith in creative tension. This is Professor Percy’s approach to mission. Those who see Christ as the transformer of culture adopt a critical contextualisation which by no means rejects culture, but is prepared to be critical both of the context and of the way we ourselves perceive the gospel and its meaning. This is Archbishop Justin’s approach. He believes that culture itself needs to be addressed by the gospel, not simply the individuals within it, and truth is mediated through mutable cultural manifestations, which may present hurdles, but none is insurmountable.

This model mitigates cultural arrogance or easy identification of the gospel with English culture. It also permits one to see how mission relates to every aspect of a culture in its political, economic and social dimensions, which is what occasionally brings Archbishop Justin of Canterbury into conflict with the Government.

The task of the Church of England  (and so the Archbishop of Canterbury) is to challenge the reigning plausibility structure by examining it in light of the revealed purposes of God contained in the biblical narrative. Justin Welby advocates a scepticism which enables one to take part in the political life of society without being deluded by its own beliefs about itself: Establishment commits the Church to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications.

But the difference is in character and temperament. On ‘zeitgeist’ matters of gender and sexuality, for example, both Percy and Welby are concerned with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing. Both are persuaded that the mission of the Church accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. As the State Church it is uniquely called upon to minister to all: everyone is a parishioner. For Percy, such issues are fundamental to the Church of England’s mission of inclusion; for Welby, they are a distraction from the primary mission of changing hearts and saving souls.

Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains largely one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic, equal, just society. Therein lies the root cause of Percy’s “suburban sect”. While this is an undoubted misconception, it is exacerbated by the nature of establishment, the fusion of the Church with an increasingly secular government, and the liberal narrative propounded in the Guardian by so many “top clerics”.

Whatever you may think, whether or not you agree with Martyn Percy, the Church of England has in Archbishop Justin Welby a man who is prepared to intervene forcefully and righteously for justice, peace, reconciliation and truth. But he knows the threshold of his influence, the essence of his own character and the limitations of his office. You may prefer and demand the perpetual missiological syncretism of ‘Christ of culture’; or the religio-political antagonism of ‘Christ with culture’; or the bold assertion of ‘Christ against culture’, but not all are called to your particular paradigm. Sometimes it is better to contextualise Christ; to be ‘with culture in paradox’, and then to live uncomfortably with the inherent and inescapable tensions caused by the inconveniences of human diversity and an awkward coalition of consciences. And sometimes it is better to chat over a cup of tea than slag off your brother as a secular sorcerer. Differences of understanding do not transcend the truth which makes us one in Christ: there is no fellowship to be found in hurling hyperbole to sell a book.

  • Jon Sorensen

    CoE seems to be tearing itself apart from inside with female bishop issue and LGBT relations. At the same time people are not buying the Christian message anymore. Young and educated people see Christianity as outdated moral system and Church being against the progress to equal rights. The Church is the last place in the western world where you can legally discriminate when hiring and managing people, and religious exemptions are always rights to discriminate or a right not to follow the laws everyone else have to follow. The worst thing is: CoE has become irrelevant.

    • Mungling

      I wouldn’t deny that for a great many people in the West, Christianity is at best a non-entity in their life and at worst a social evil that must be tolerated or even eradicated.

      With that said I’m not sure irrelevancy is quite true of Christianity. I don’t think its irrelevant for people using a Christian food bank or a social service. I don’t think its irrelevant for the various parishes and churches communities that meet every Sunday (or more) and at the very least provide a sense of community and fellowship. And for some young and educated people such as myself — not the majority to be sure — the Church has given has strength, meaning and a firm foundation. I’m not sure I would have survived my struggle with depression had it not been for the Church. I know a good many people who would say their lives have been transformed, for the better, by that “outdated moral system” and Christian message. It may not be the premiere social force that it was a generation ago, but for whom the Church is present, I think you might be surprised at just relevant it can be.

      • Jon Sorensen

        Where I live organisations tender for government money to run food bank or a social service. Sometimes CoE wins it, sometimes secular organisation gets the money to run it. Non-religious organisations tend to have less overhead so are more efficient. Churches still provide a good community for people, but CoE is just one of the many Christian and non-Christian options consumer can select. Nothing special about CoE, just more overheads.

        Depression is hard to cope with. I’m sorry you had it. Religion helps some to cope with it. For some religion seem to give mental health issues (Utah is the Prozac capital of the US). Religion doesn’t seem to be a solution to illnesses.

        Religion has transformed lives for better and ruining many more. Middle East shows how toxic the life transformation can be. Blair and Bush went there with Christian agenda. Overall world would probably be better without religions.

        Christianity is outdated moral system as it does not support equal rights for minorities and women. Many Christians support equal rights for female pastors and gay marriage, but Bible does not.

        • Martin

          Jon

          Christianity is outdated moral system as it does not support equal rights for minorities and women.

          Remember, homosexuals are not minorities, they are just sinners and women are certainly equal.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “Remember, homosexuals are not minorities”
            Dehumanising people you don’t like to make discrimination easier. Standard Christian practice. Shame on you and all Christians.

          • Anton

            Would you care to define discrimination?

          • Jon Sorensen

            From Wikipedia:
            “In human social affairs, discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing is perceived to belong to rather than on individual merit.”

          • Anton

            Thank you. I’d describe it as treating things that are the same, differently. Before applying this definition one has to be sure that things really are the same.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Christians like you keep on justifying themselves that discrimination is ok. Everyone else see it is wrong and everyone else sees how the Church is morally outdated and wrong.

          • Anton

            Discrimination is not OK. Discrimination is treating things differently that are the same.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Why are you part of a movement that discriminates. Shame on you

          • Anton

            Discrimination is treating things differently that are the same. I am against discrimination. It might be that Christians do not regard two things as equivalent whereas you do.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You don’t even seem to understand discrimination, so how can be against it. Churches keep on discriminating and advocating exemptions for them to discriminate, and you have no clue…

          • Anton

            You keep repeating yourself without apparently understanding what I’m saying. When you do, feel free to disagree with it.

          • Martin

            Jon

            The homosexual requires no assistance in dehumanising themselves, I’ve not aided one whit in that respect. And the concept that we should not discriminate is one of the follies of this modern age. We all discriminate, all the time, we’d get nowhere if we didn’t.

            So drop the silliness and make the attempt to grow up and think. It makes sense you know.

          • Jon Sorensen

            So you think growing up means that we should accept discrimination? It shows how corrupt your moral system is.

            Your rhetoric about dehumanising a group of human is just sad, but so Christian. This is why secular organisation have created support groups for victims of Christianity, This is also why gay teenage suicide rates are very high. Again it shows how bankrupt Christianity is.

          • Martin

            Jon

            You are silly, we discriminate every waking moment of every day. Being an adult is knowing what it is good to discriminate and what it is not. The vast number of people in this world think so little their discrimination is far from adult.

            As you know, God created this World and so He gets to set the rules. We need to align ourselves with these rules if we want to live well. One of those rules is that sex is only for a man and woman in marriage. There is no such thing as ‘gay’, just sexual sinners. A teenager isn’t gay, nor is an adult, they are just in thrall to a sin. They need to resist the temptation, not succumb to it because if they succumb it will ruin their life. The blame for such as commit suicide rests entirely with those who teach them otherwise, with you and others like you. You are creating the victims, you are dehumanising people by your devotion to your wickedness. You are the bankrupt.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You are wrong. I don’t discriminate every waking moment of every day. And even if vast number of people do it, it does not make it ok.

            “As you know, God created this World”
            You are still in your fantasy world imagining other peoples knowledge. This delusion must be comforting to you.

            You and your religion are bullying many LGBT kids to suicide and now you blame others for it. Despicable.

          • Martin

            Jon

            Do you choose what to have for breakfast? It’s all discrimination

            You’ll deny that God exists till the cows come home but it is still true. It supports your delusion.

            There are no LGBT kids and it is your pretence that there are that is causing those suicides. You cannot shift your responsibility like that.

          • Jon Sorensen

            You have no idea. choosing breakfast has nothing to do with discrimination. So sad to waste a mind

          • Martin

            Jon

            No, it is you who have no idea, you are an unthinker, following the the paths of what you are told without testing them.

            At breakfast you discriminate between one food and another. You discriminate every moment of every day and frequently against what God has told us.

        • Old Nick

          I was under the impression that most Food Banks were largely run by a Christian organisation called the Trussell Trust and relied entirely on donations and did not take government money. Of the two round here, one is Trussell Trust and the other is run by an outfit called Churches Housing Action Team – and I am pretty certain neither takes public funds.

          • Jon Sorensen

            Donations don’t go far these days…
            Here most charities are at least partly funded by government money.

        • Mungling

          You know I would happily concede that there are many groups out there (Humanists, Muslims, Mormons, etc.) who do a lot of charitable work. Moreover I recognize that as the west continues to secularize and as Christianity continues to diminish in these parts, Christianity will account for less and less of the charitable doings that are occurring in the West. That really doesn’t diminish the very real good that Christians charities do where they exist. I know you think Christianity has no relevance, but I think those people who depend on Christian charities to survive would disagree.

          Similarly, is a firm religious commitment the only way to combat depression? Absolutely not, and I always encourage my fellow Christians to seek therapy or medical assistance when dealing with anxiety or depression. Never-the-less for me and many in my community, our faith in Jesus Christ has been absolutely essential in recovery. Again you say that Christianity has no relevance, but I — and many of my colleagues — would disagree.

          Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that Christianity will be always and everywhere the center of people’s lives or in the national consciousness. I know that’s not the case. But to say that Christianity has no relevance is to imply that that it has no relevance for anyone. That’s just not true. I don’t know what the Christian community in the UK will look like in 50 years. I don’t even know what it will look like in my native Canada. I suspect it will be much smaller and much less powerful in worldly terms. But for those people, however few they may be, those who belong to a community of faith, those institutions will continue to be immensely relevant. Just because the CoE may not mean much to you doesn’t mean that the CoE doesn’t mean much.

          • Jon Sorensen

            “very real good that Christians charities do where they exist”
            What might that be? A lot of Church money goes to hush funds and court cost for pedophile priests… Billions of dollars!! With the B.

            ” I think those people who depend on Christian charities to survive would disagree.”
            Government has already taken the role of looking after people. Churches are mostly irrelevant.

            “our faith in Jesus Christ has been absolutely essential in recovery.”
            Muslims also tell me that their faith in Allah has been absolutely essential in their recovery. Do we believe in that or do we think that it is wishful thinking?

            Time has moved past Christianity. Some people still see that relevant, but the truth is time has changed for good

  • dannybhoy
  • magnolia

    I do find ad hominem squabbles tedious, especially as I think Martyn Percy has some interesting things to say. I also have a lot of respect for Justin Welby. Both are possible.

    Yes, sometimes the Church can think it has provided a nice organised nesting box for the Holy Spirit however the Spirit blows where it will and room must be left for spontaneity, risk-taking and raw faith. Different personality types all are part of the body, and maybe none should be claiming that their own preferred mode is all the Body of Christ should be about. For those that know MBTI recent research suggests ISFJ are over-represented in the C of E compared to the population. This would suggest a possible/ probable overemphasis on administrative tasks.

  • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

    Goodness! A weighty piece and no mistake. My own experience tends to the view that there are good leaders and good managers – sometimes both attributes are combined in one person, sometimes not. For example, a head teacher needs to be a good leader, one with a clear vision of where the school must go: he or she can delegate many of the day to day managerial tasks to others. I suspect the good Canon’s point about middle managers was that they do not, necessarily, have a clear vision (now don’t go on about people with vision should be under medical restraint…thank you). As for the Church of England being a broad church, much has been done of late to damage that tradition, leaving some folk spiritually homeless. Some have crossed the Tiber, others have wandered off. Having ceased to be the Tory Party at prayer, the Church has donned the hair shirt of social justice without considering why the poor are always with us – because the Left have no interest in tackling poverty, only in creating a wider client base of ‘victims’. There, I have quite overstretched myself at this hour of the morning and need my Earl Grey.

    • Anton

      Having ceased to be the Tory Party at prayer, the CoE crossed the House and became the Labour Party at prayer.

  • Anton

    The CoE is in an impossible position that the writers of the 39 Articles never imagined, namely being an Established church in a secular society. If an Established church is to be made more faithful (disestablishment being a separate debate) then the process can certainly be assisted by good “management techniques” aka leadership, but has ultimately to be based on the faith and the prayer of its earthly leaders. That means ditching liberal theology. Percy is a church liberal (see his Wikipedia entry) and if liberal churchmen write grumbling essays about a movement away from liberal Christianity, it is a welcome sign of progress.

    • David

      Yes. Ditch liberal theology. It is dead end. Liberalism solves no problems, it merely smooths over cracks, but which soon rupture again.

      • Anton

        Liberal theology is based on doubt, not faith. That is why it doesn’t make converts, and the quicker it dies, the better.

        • Royinsouthwest

          I agree but it is natural to have doubts. Does any good come of pretending not to have them?

          • Anton

            Confessional autobiographies in which people wrestle with doubt are one thing. Basing theology on doubt is quite another.

    • Martin

      Anton

      If the clergy of the CoE were to be examined on their adherence to the 39 Articles most would fail. If they kept to them they might find the answer, but Westminster, or rather London is better.

  • Uncle Brian

    Percy’s book isn’t due to be published until three months from now. Whatever happened to embargoes? Considering that he is not only the author but the first-named of the three series editors at the Routledge department in charge of his book, presumably he knows what he’s doing.

    https://www.routledge.com/religion/series/ACONTECC

  • David

    We need both good leadership and effective management, at all levels, ideally. As a professional (now largely retired) who led and managed over 100 people, of a mixture of the “landed” and environmental professions, I believe that leaders must provide both non-fussy, suitable, equitable, clear cut management, plus, a leadership style and vision as good as they can muster. It is ultimately a very giving, self-sacrificial role – giving to those you lead, to enable them to succeed. It is the very opposite of glory hunting.
    Good management is not complicated. Whilst really top managers are born not made, even the mediocre ones can be improved by suitable training. Good leadership though is something less measurable, more spiritual and in most contexts, especially that of the Church, it requires deep courage. Good leaders often bear scars, which are one of the repercussions for pushing ideas and directions, linked to truth and justice, that many will always oppose.
    So yes let’s press ahead with simplifying the accumulated centuries of over-complex and often archaic procedures that rob good parish workers of that precious time, much needed for investment in both the pastoral and the evangelical. That will facilitate effective management. I celebrate the group that Welby has set up to simplify the over-complicated procedures of the Church. That is excellent.
    But ultimately growth and revival comes, not through our own, puny human efforts but rather through the power, truth and leadership of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the good human leaders of the Church, at all levels, will need the humility to be led by God’s Word, the historic unchanging Truths that the Church has always understood as the meaning of that Word, and above al else they must always walk by faith not sight, in prayer, led by the Holy Ghost.

  • IanCad

    I tried to read it once – then again – and fell to sleep.
    Management – the death of initiative.

  • Jesus said: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.” (Lk. 12:49)

    The Church does not need bureaucrats and managers. It needs passionate missionaries determined to bring the words of Jesus and His grace to everyone.

    • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

      “Enthusiasm is a horrid, horrid thing”… (Archbishop Tenison)

      • Uncle Brian

        Dear Mrs P, to be fair to both Archbishop Tenison and Happy Jack, three hundred years ago the word ‘enthusiasm’ didn’t quite have the meaning it has now. It meant something more like ‘prejudice’.

        • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

          I know – tee hee – but it is a wonderful quotation and I couldn’t resist…

          • Uncle Brian

            I suspected as much! You’re a deep one, Mrs P, and no mistake!

          • Old Nick

            And was it not Bp. Butler (sorry, Middle-Manager-Wot-We-Do-Not-Need Butler) who said that pretending to special revelations of the Holy Spirit was a horrid thing, a very horrid thing. I think the passage is quoted in the learned intro to the Penguin Julian of Norwich, but alas my copy is currently in mid-Atlantic (though not, I hope, in an equinoctial gale).

          • Uncle Brian

            In the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1979 edition) it’s one of just four entries under Butler’s name. He said it to John Wesley, no less: “Sir, the pretending to extraordinary revelations and gifts of the Holy Ghost is a horrid thing, a very horrid thing.”

            Middle-Manager-Wot-We-Do-Not-Need Butler — You make it sound like one of those polysyllabic Puritan names, such as Praise-God’s Barebone’s son, If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone.

          • Old Nick

            Was there not a Puritan called Let-God-Arise-And-Let-His-Enemies-Be-Scattered ? Thanks for confirming the Butler reference….

          • Uncle Brian

            In the meantime Happy Jack has posted (about twenty comments up from this one) a fuller version of the Butler quote, including the word “Enthusiasm”.

          • Anton

            There was Praisegod Barebone:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praise-God_Barebone

            But let us not be too quick to chuckle in view of the meaning of some of the names in the Old Testament.

          • HastyPrince

            It was Dr Johnson who made that remark, not Archbishop Tenison.

        • Anton

          It meant the revivalist movement of the time, surely?

          A school named after Archbishop Tenison overlooks The Oval cricket ground in London.

          • Uncle Brian

            Ah, fond memories from long ago of sunny afternoons at the Oval. I didn’t know anything about a nearby school, though. The gasometer, yes, which I think I read somewhere has now been pulled down.

        • Pubcrawler

          Archbishop Tenison preached a sermon in memory of Nell Gwynn.

          • Uncle Brian

            Good for him! I never knew that. In fact the only thing I ever knew about Tenison, as far as I remember, is that he was in constant conflict with Queen Anne. She insisted on appointing the bishops of her choice, like Xi Jinping now.

            http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351357?eng=y

          • Pubcrawler

            It was a death-bed request, I think. That’s about all I know about him, except that he was a Cambridge man (locally born and bred, to boot).

          • Uncle Brian

            Pubcrawler, if I may change the subject for a moment, you once helped me out with your specialist knowledge of the Greek NT. Let me ask you this. From time to time I go to the Bible Hub website for the OT in Hebrew and the NT in Greek. Could you recommend a similar online resource for the Septuagint? I’ve never found one that has a built-in lexicon and concordance, where you can easily jump from one to the other.
            Thanks.

          • Pubcrawler

            ‘Specialist knowledge’ is pushing it a bit, I’m just a humble ex-Classicist…

            Hmm. Generally I just refer to my printed LXX, but a quick Google turned this up:

            http://studybible.info/version/LXX_WH

            Text plus links to Strong’s concordance. No interlinear translation or transliteration, though, so you need to be able to read Greek.

            Old Nick might know of something else.

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you! That’s just what I needed. For example, when Paul tells Titus to “appoint” elders in every town (Titus 1.5) he uses the verb kathistemi, which I now learn is the same verb that Joseph uses when he tells Pharaoh to “look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt” (Gen. 41.33).

            http://studybible.info/search/LXX_WH/G2525

            It helps to shed a little light in what the words meant to the Evangelists and to Paul and others.

          • Pubcrawler

            Good, glad its of use.

            That’s a standard meaning in Classical Greek, too. Not so much as to be a technical term I don’t think, but pretty normal.

          • Uncle Brian

            Sorry, I once did a beginner’s course in modern Israeli Hebrew, but I wouldn’t presume to attempt to answer your question. The verbs are very complex and very tricky, and the whole structure is different from European languages. For example, in Latin (I don’t know about Greek) you have four basic combinations of mood and voice: active-indicative, passive-indicative, active-subjunctive, passive-subjunctive. In Hebrew, I’m sorry to say, they have no fewer than seven, and they don’t break down into contrasting pairs like that. There’s no such thing as a subjunctive, for a start. They’re just seven distinct “constructions”, so called.

          • Pubcrawler

            Greek has:

            * voices: active, middle (a sort of reflexive which looks for the most part just like the passive, for a laugh) and passive
            * moods: indicative, subjunctive and optative.

            So far, so (relatively) straightforward. But of course it’s never as simple as that. For example, histemi and its prefixed derivatives can be either transitive or intransitive in the active form depending on tense and, in the case of the aorist, whether it’s the weak form or the strong form

            As for the aorist, well, it’s usually past tense, except when it isn’t.

            It’s a fun language!

          • Uncle Brian

            Well, well! I hadn’t realised that the Greek verb was as complicated as all that. So perhaps, in comparison, you wouldn’t find the Hebrew verb as difficult as I did.

            The good news about Hebrew grammar is that, apart from the verb, everything else is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. There’s a lot of memorising to do, which can be hard work, but the difficulties as such are pretty much confined to the verbs. The nouns, for example, have only two cases, and although they can vary a bit in the singular they are absolutely regular in the plural, without any deviation ever from a single, very simple rule.

            By the way, on that other thread you wrote a couple of words em português. Você despertou minha curiosidade. Posso perguntar?

          • Pubcrawler

            Podes. I used to work with a Portuguese fellow, have been to visit him back in Portugal (Setubal, Jose Mourinho country) several times. Fell in love with the country and people (such beautiful women!). On my first visit I found from idly flipping through the local paper that Portuguese is a sort of badly spelled Latin with French grammar and I could get the gist without too much effort, so I took evening classes for a couple of years.

            So my Portuguese is rudimentary and somewhat rusty (I haven’t been back for a while), but enough to get me round the more remote areas where English is less likely to be spoken. I’m told I have a good Lisbon accent.

            I’ve also worked with a number of Brazilians, but I find their accent(s) completely impenetrable!

          • Uncle Brian

            It’s more than just accent, I think. Even the formal written language shows a much greater number of differences between Portugal and Brazil than you are likely to find between British and American English. However, if you want to give it a try, here’s a link (below) to the news magazine that I read every week. For obvious reasons, there’s much more sports news in this week’s issue than you would normally find there, and no doubt it’ll be the same again in the new issue due to appear online on Friday night or Saturday morning.

            http://veja.abril.com.br/

          • Pubcrawler

            Thanks, I will try to make a regular habit of reading Portuguese-language stuff so I can impress my Portuguese chums next time I visit 🙂

          • Uncle Brian

            That’s easily answered. My employers transferred me to São Paulo, after I’d been working for them in London for a few years, and that was where I ended up spending roughly the second half of my working life. The missus and I both retired a few years ago and we moved away from the big city into the countryside.

          • Old Nick

            I fear I just use the book as well – and I do not know Hebrew, alas.

          • Anton

            All of the extant Greek Classics and the New Testament are at the Perseus project and I’d be surprised it the Septuagint isn’t.

            http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you, Anton. It’s quite a complicated site or rather set of sites. The Septuagint, for example, seems to be housed at a separate site in Dresden …

          • Anton

            I remember noticing that an upgrade had made it less user-friendly a few years ago; before then it had been superb albeit slow. But my interest was restricted to the NT and as biblehub appeared around that time I stopped using it.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Biblehub is jolly good.

        • Martin

          Brian

          Not convinced.

      • Martin

        Mrs P

        So would you have imprisoned Bunyan? He was certainly an enthusiast.

      • “Enthusiasm. Sir, the pretending (i.e. claiming) to extraordinary revelations and gifts of the Holy Ghost is a horrid thing, a very horrid thing.”
        (Bishop Butler to John Wesley when he recounted his conversion. experience)
        Of course the Catholic Church can rightly make such claims, unlike others.

        • Anton

          To what does “such” refer? Your meaning isn’t clear.

        • Old Nick

          There is of course a whole book by Fr. Ronald Knox on Enthusiasm.

          • There is and its years – decades – since Jack has seen a copy or even thought about it.
            Are you an admirer of Father Knox? In case you’ve not read it already, here is an online publication of “The Belief of Catholics.” It’s short, witty and addresses most Protestant objections to the Catholic faith.

            http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHRIST/BELIEF.TXT

          • Old Nick

            How could one not admire a man who had the good sense to cross the wall from Balliol to Trinity. His “Let Dons Delight” is one of those books I return to constantly and find fresh things.

    • Martin

      HJ

      It doesn’t need a hierarchy either. And all God’s people are priests.

  • Rev_bud

    Just a correction on a source quoted. It was Reinhold’s brother, H. Richard Niebuhr, who wrote about the five relations between “Christ and Culture’ in a book of that name.

    • Corrected. Quite right. Bless you (it has been a while..)

  • carl jacobs

    Beware of Liberals bearing “deeper ecclesial comprehension”.

  • carl jacobs

    The Gospel separates light from darkness, sheep from goat, life from death. It does not and cannot fail whether it be received or rejected. The seed is scattered. Some wither. Some are eaten. Some are choked. Some take root. And all those who are appointed to eternal life believe. We focus on the wrong thing if we focus on numbers. Faithfulness is the measure of a servant and not success.

    • Eustace

      Naughty boy, scattering your seed like that! Don’t you know that onanism is a sin?

      If you were a Catholic then an obliging priest could “help you out” and absolve you of your sin while taking it all (and I do mean “all”) on himself. Very Christ-like. No wonder the profession appeals to so many gay men.

      As an uptight American Protestant however, your options are far more circumscribed. If you’re married, you can plough the same furrow over and over again, until obesity, the menopause and the ravages of childbirth turn it into a dry and dusty Dead Man’s Gulch.

      Fear not however! Christ provides for the true of heart! Why do you think Coors Light exists? So you can drown your sorrows, balloon to a size where finding it in the folds of flesh to play with it would be impossible anyway, and then live out what’s left of your life in the celibate bliss of functional asexuality while raining hot coals down on the heads of anyone who doesn’t follow your example. Because you have to justify your bleak and empty existence somehow, don’t you?

      • The Explorer

        What happens to the sexuality of gays when they get old?

        Or do too many of them die before they get there of disease, drug abuse or depression for it to be an issue?

        • Inspector General

          One can enlighten you there, Explorer. The biggest enemy of the gay enthusiast is age. And he will be told or let known when his time is up. However, in large groups, he’s not the only one to find himself at that stage in gay life, and would thus be expected to ‘team up’ with similar, if he’s still a single entity. Thereafter, they go ‘off scene’ as gays themselves will have it, and leave the burgeoning immediate to up and coming young types.

          It always was and always will be the province of the young. And they won’t thank you one bit should you remind them that youth is fleeting!

          • The Explorer

            Linus, youth is fleeting.

          • Pubcrawler

            Linus’ youth is fleeing.

            There, fixed that for you.

          • Eustace

            Careful not to get too excited while you fantasize about my sex life. I’m told that dried semen is very difficult to clean off a keyboard. Of course that’s assuming there’s enough propulsive power to get it that far, of course. If it just trickles down your leg in the manner of most dirty old men and pools in your slipper, a washing machine and a spot of bleach should do the trick.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’ll leave the lurid fantasy to you, as you are so expert at it.

          • Inspector General

            A word in your ear, old poof. It’s not a ‘sex life’ you have, but something called ‘anal’. Short for ‘anal penetration’, but keep that under your hat…

          • Eustace

            You’ve made quite a study of gay sex practices, I see. And where did you gain your knowledge? You grew up as a Catholic, didn’t you? Institutionalized too if your pathologically damaged personality is anything to go by. I smell a priest at the bottom of all this. Quite literally. It would certainly explain the obsession and the anger.

            Let it go, old bigot. Just because you had your chimney swept against your will doesn’t mean that all sweeps should be made to pay the price.

          • Inspector General

            Come on, Eustace or Linus. Tell you you what. You piss off over to Pink News comments where you losers can snarl at each other at your leisure, and we for our part will forget you even exist. What do you say…

          • Eustace

            I say you’re misapplying the word “loser”, which more accurately describes you than anyone else.

            Your entire life has been experienced as one long defeat of your values when set against the forces of modernity and change. The odd victory doesn’t change the overall trajectory of loss, disavowal and marginalisation.

            My life on the other hand has been a series of victories, advances and affirmations.

            So who’s the loser? And who will continue to lose in the face of increasing liberalisation?

          • Inspector General

            The Inspector has read about older gay types, in their 40s, onwards, being kicked in the shins at gay venues, presumably to let them know how unwelcome they are for bringing their ‘maturity’ there. It’s all cruel stuff, you know, and certainly not what God had in mind…

          • Eustace

            That’s not my experience. I’ve always been young. People remark on how young I look for my age.

            I’ll start to age at some point of course, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. If it means less sex then my husband and I, who are the same age, will deal with that as every married couple that ages together must. The memory of physical intimacy can keep a marriage alive when actual physical intimacy, or at least the frequent enjoyment of it, is no longer possible.

            For the moment however it’s twice a day minimum. Sometimes three. How about you? Once a month, under a crucifix, through a hole in a sheet, I suppose?

          • Inspector General

            “People remark on how young I look for my age.”

            By your own hand, shall it be delivered. Turn to Christ before the inevitable…

          • Eustace

            Hmmm, well, while it’s clear enough that virtually all of your orgasms have been self-induced, the same is not true of mine. One assumes your hand has to work overtime to deliver anything these days. Careful. The friction may end up igniting your dry old carcass and then you’ll go up like a torch.

          • Inspector General

            Well really! Should you attempt to bring your nonsense onto Mrs Proudie’s letter tomorrow, the Inspector will wash you out with carbolic – both ends!

          • Eustace

            You’re a regular encyclopedia of Christian prejudice and calumny, aren’t you?

            Why am I not surprised?

          • Inspector General

            Have a care, sir! The Inspector has researched for a full 5 years on why you crowd do what you must…

          • Eustace

            Research?

            That’s what you call it when someone you know runs into you with your pants down in a gay cruising spot or sex club, eh?

        • Eustace

          It just gets better and better. I have friends in their 70s and 80s who do it every day. Sometimes twice.

          And there are more of them than you think. Only in the fevered imaginations of deprived evangelical Christians obsessed with other people’s sex lives do gays all die young.

          • The Explorer

            You twisted the topic onto sex in the first place. Any response is just to humour your obsession. The casualty rate is not just in the imagination: also in medical statistics. And you’re the one who said “all”.

          • Eustace

            Lies, damned lies and statistics. Christians love quoting statistics that place the targets of their hatred in a poor light and will twist the truth in order to support a belief without any hesitation.

            Take the assertion that gays are more likely to attempt suicide than straights, therefore we should discourage people from being gay and ban gay marriage. Fine, as long as you also discourage people from being male and ban heterosexual marriage, because men are more likely to commit suicide than women.

            Do I see you out there campaigning to bring an end to maleness in order to stop male suicide? It’s just crazy to encourage people to be men if there’s a greater risk they’ll top themselves. Quick, let’s lobby the government to pass a new law (we could call it Section 29) that outlaws the promotion of maleness in school…

          • The Explorer

            The statistics are not compiled by Christians.

            You raised the issue of women in old age. I asked for a comparison with the situation for old gays. Gays on average die younger than other males, and are more likely than other males to commit suicide. That is true even in Sweden, where anti-gay prejudice is at a minimum.

          • Eustace

            Black males on average die younger than white males, so are you saying we should make being black illegal and outlaw black marriage?

            Whatever statistics may or may not say (and the particular studies you use as “evidence” are not necessarily definitive and accurate), using them as justification for discriminating against particular groups merely highlights the fact that you’re looking for reasons to justify your prejudice.

            Why not just be honest about it and say you want to pass laws against gays because you hate us? You’d save yourself a lot of time and trouble trying to find excuses and justifications for your animus towards us.

          • The Explorer

            Let’s recap here.

            You made a comment about the sexuality of old women. I countered with a query about the sexuality of old gays, plus an observation that statistically a significant number of gays die below the male average.

            I drew attention to a natural phenomenon. I said nothing about outlawing gay marriage, or about discriminating against other groups, or about hating gays.

            But I do hate malicious comments about women.

        • carl jacobs

          You can’t win that way, Explorer. Linus doesn’t require a response. His posts reflect on him, and not his target. Let them stand unanswered. He looks foolish and petty for what he writes. An answer only serves to legitimize his effort.

          • Inspector General

            I say, Carl, Linus seems to have gone doolally this night, the poor unfortunate…

          • carl jacobs

            Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Proverbs 26:4

            As I keep saying, it would be best not to answer Linus. By doing so, you only give him a forum.

          • Eustace

            Actually no, the failed parliamentary candidate who poses as a dead archbishop is the one who gives me a forum. Or at least provides the forum I choose to express myself on. All you do is claim to ignore me. A claim that is quite ridiculous considering you seize upon every opportunity of reacting to my posts via a third party.

            Your basic problems are the uncontrollable anger and outrage you feel at the fact that people like me are allowed to express opinions that differ from your own. How dare we call into question your divine right to rule the world on behalf of your made-up deity?

            The image I have of you as a typical loudmouthed, opinionated and obese American evangelical whose constant railing against the sins of others is merely a diversion to cover his own greed, gluttony and absolute inability to exercise self-control grows more solid and fully-formed every day. Every snide comment where you claim to be ignoring me despite the fact that if you were, you wouldn’t comment at all. Every declamation of threadbare, accusatory and hypocritical evangelical theology. Every humourless and pedantic “joke”. They all add colour (such as it is) and substance to the awful reality that is carl jacobs.

          • Inspector General

            It’s a question of context, old chap. The biblical advice would be fine for a one on one or one on group situation but not for the public domain. To leave his rot unanswered would suggest that Christianity does not have the answer to his grievances and thus will appear impotent. As it is, no further communication is necessary right now as it’s clear to all that he’s currently residing in the arms of Narcissus.

          • carl jacobs

            The rot of Linus deserves no answer precisely because it is self-evidently rot. To ignore it is to dismiss it and delegitimize it. If every poster on this weblog ignored him, he would soon become hysterical in his posting in an effort to provoke response. He needs response. The most effective answer you can give him is no answer. He will rage against the dying of the light for awhile, but eventually he will get frustrated and leave.

            He’s not here to argue. He’s here to piss on people and laugh at the stain.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Maybe every poster on this blog could simply block him?

  • Inspector General

    The fellow does have a point. If you want to see the Church of England as nothing more than the spiritual side of the government, you’ll see it that way. Image is everything, you know. The Inspector has his own view on how senior figures therein should appear – in a monks habit – with a cord around their waist and a large cross dangling from their necks. Take a leaf from the Orthodox church, and make use of two thousand years of continuity of Christianity, which everyone recognises. As it stands, these ‘business suits’ the clergy wear today are a right turn off. Indicative of belonging to the world, to Caesar, to our masters, not to God. Something is definitely wrong there, what! Sure you’ll all agree.

    Now, it’s easy to say the church is run by the middle classes, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s because they are adept at doing so. But the church is for everyone! And what we find is that there always were types who would be natural Christians if they could see through the sophisticate that the church has become. These types are often caught up in earthly pursuits that mimic spirituality. The use of drugs, for example, or indeed sorcery as we know it. Pentagrams and earth force and similar inanity. The worst of them become vegetarians and some even go completely unhinged, Lord help us, and become Vegans…

    Anyway, just think if we could wean them off their dead end journey of ultimate disappointment, and guide them to the true spirit of creation and where we ourselves are accommodated therein. That’s a worthwhile journey and a revelation to all that take it!

    • Pubcrawler

      “in a monks habit – with a cord around their waist and a large cross dangling from their necks”

      I have some sympathy with this view. There is no mistaking the local Greek Orthodox priest when he cycles past.

      • David

        Do you live in an Orthodox “country” or a UK metropolitan area by any chance ? Just interested …

        • Pubcrawler

          A university town in East Anglia.

          • Uncle Brian

            Putting 2 and 2 together, does the expression “the King Street run” convey a meaning at all?

          • Pubcrawler

            It does.

          • Anton

            Not enough pubs left there for it to be a challenge any more.

          • Uncle Brian

            Oh dear. A sign of the times, I suppose.

          • Pubcrawler

            The biggest challenge is to find a beer worth drinking…

      • Anton

        Cycling in a monk’s habit or equivalent must be tricky.

        • Pubcrawler

          As with a long skirt. I imagine it must get easier with practice.

  • len

    I think’ the Church’ needs to ask some serious questions.What is the church for, what is its purpose what is its future.?
    What is the Gospel?. Why does God want people saved? And saved from what?.
    The Foundations of the Gospel need to re -laid if the church is to be relevant in a fast becoming secular society.

    What is Gods ultimate purpose in Creation? Why is the Creation in such a bad way, why is man so destructive?.

    All these Questions are answered in the Bible which is as relevant today as it ever was because Gods Word is Truth and Truth does not change.

    There are few that find the answers to the above questions because man wants answers handed to him’ on a plate’ if Google cannot do it in 3 seconds move on to something else?

  • Martin

    Hmm, if you didn’t have a hierarchical structure in the CoE you wouldn’t have need for ‘middle management’. Indeed, what management is required or instituted in Christ’s Church, as opposed to men’s church, aside from Christ Himself? Does the Bible have bishops over priests, canon’s over cathedrals?Curiously it presents a plurality of elders/overseers assisted by a plurality of deacons all being members with the brethren. So many of the Co E’s problems would thus be done away with, provided they also instituted church discipline and chucked out the disorderly. Mind, there wouldn’t be many left and they are so in love with numbers.

    • Anton

      Hallelujah!

    • Eustace

      Martin finally has a good idea!

      Dismantle the Church hierarchy, boot out anyone who doesn’t follow the rules exactly (as laid down by Martin, of course) and then let the few remaining members fade away into anonymity, never again to disturb the peace of anyone except those unfortunate enough to find themselves in close proximity to one of their cult dens.

      That’s exactly what the Church should be. An off-grid, backwoods doomsday cult where a few individuals can give free rein to their delusions of being “special” and “chosen” without bothering anyone else.

      In the UK and Europe, restricted access to firearms will keep them tame enough, but if the odd massacre of ordinary citizens deemed to be “sinners” by gun-totin’ cultists happens in the US, well they’ll only have themselves to blame for their irresponsible attitude to weaponry.

      • The Explorer

        Not as laid down by Martin; as laid down by Paul.

        Protestant view. The Bible is divinely revealed and contains all that is necessary for salvation.

        Catholic view. The Bible is divinely inspired, and is supplemented by Divinely-inspired tradition.

        Liberal view. The Bible is an historical document that needs updating and correcting.

        Atheist view. The Bible is an historical document that needs to be discarded.

        Martin is being faithful to the Protestant tradition.

        • Eustace

          Martin is being faithful to Martin’s interpretation of the Protestant tradition. If any other Protestants disagree with him, they are wrong and he is right. In his troubled little head. Nowhere else.

          • dannybhoy

            Martin’s a good brother who takes his faith seriously.

          • Anton

            Do feel free to read the relevant scriptures and tell him where you think he is wrong.

          • The Explorer

            Nowhere else? Actually, what he says about church structure is exactly what the New Testament says.

            Where the issue arises is whether the New Testament should be the source of authority.

          • And who is right in your troubled little head…

          • Dominic Stockford

            No he isn’t. As an unbeliever you wouldn’t understand the Protestant position if it bit you on the behind.

          • Eustace

            The Protestant (and Catholic, and Orthodox) position(s) have no teeth to bite anyone on the behind with. They’re so ancient and decrepit, all their teeth fell out many years ago. All they can do to survive now is to latch on to the weaker members of society and suck sustenance out of them like toothless leeches.

      • Martin

        UE

        Do you really imagine that the hierarchy is necessary for the Church? Curiously it required no hierarchy in the first centuries.

        Nor has it been Christians who have been responsible for deaths, let’s face it, the vast majority of violent deaths in the UK have been down to abortion, curiously beloved of many Atheists.

        • Eustace

          I don’t give a monkey’s whether the Church has a hierarchy or not, although without one it would probably fade away more quickly. But either way, as I’m not a Christian, it’s none of my affair how you govern yourselves or what squabbles you have among yourselves.

          And if you think Christians aren’t responsible for violent deaths you’re even loopier and more deluded than I take you to be.

          • Martin

            UE

            Since you don’t know what a Christian is, nor do you have any interest in Christian things, one wonders what your purpose for being here is. It could be just that you like to stick your nose into other people’s business of course. All in all you show yourself to be remarkably ineffective in the discussions.

          • Eustace

            You become remarkably incoherent when you’re angry. A classic passive/aggressive personality trait.

            Few evangelise as effectively for the atheist cause as you. See, crazed zealotry does have a use after all.

          • Martin

            UE

            You didn’t realise that I’m laughing at you?

          • Eustace

            Cackling like a madman, yes.

          • Martin

            UE

            We do have sympathy with you, not much but some.

          • Eustace

            “We”? Who’s “we”?

            I think I’m starting to understand. It’s you and the voices in your head, isn’t it?

  • chefofsinners

    Justin Welby believes in Christ the transformer of culture because Christ has transformed Justin Welby.
    There are others, who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof: from such turn away.

    • David

      Amen to that.

    • But, does the Christ who transforms individuals interested in transforming culture? What does he mean when he says, ‘Father… I pray not for the world but for those you have given me out of the world?

      • chefofsinners

        I think that Jesus’ teaching that we are the salt of the earth indicates that we should be improving our society by being better individuals within it. Similarly, 2 Thess 2:7 says that God is holding back lawlessness. This is often understood to refer to the work of the Holy Spirit through Christians.
        Some societies have been transformed by Christianity, and that is no bad thing.

        • I think you are imposing more in the text than intended. I think the text is saying that living as a Christian will have a preserving effect on society. To be sure we are to do good to all men. Yet neither implies an intention to have any transformative/redeeming/renewing effect on culture. Culture is simply another word for world/Babylon. Jesus asks, ‘who made me a judge and arbitrater over you’. Paul, ‘what have I to do with judging outsiders’. And then of course there is Jesus comment I already cited.

          • chefofsinners

            And yet in Acts 17 the believers were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’. It is a blessing if, as a consequence of the gospel, we are able to turn at least some of the world right-way-up.

  • cybervicar

    Martyn Percy is the highest paid cleric in the Church. Why? I have a smidgen of sympathy to his take that there could emerge far too much management science which promotes a kind of careerism where we are run by HR department rather than the Holy Ghost. There are some clerics, mostly middle-of-the-roaders, who appear desperate to climb up some ladder and reduced the edginess of the New Covenant to some social Gospel in line with the pages of the Granuaid. We claim to be a supernatural society and we need prophetic leaders to help us rediscover this. Otherwise we will never escape the ever decreasing circles of this liberal Pelagianism. We will forever be chasing targets and mission statements rather than healing the blind, raising the dead, proclaiming the year of favour. However, this article is right to point our that Percy’s theology is essentially liberal and in my opinion his views are stuck in a past (the 1960s). I think our Archbishop is wise and wonderful and in the right theological direction but perhaps he needs to curtail some of his previous secular employment and emphasise more the supernatural origins of the Church foundations. This is where his strengths lie.

    • Anton

      Percy is the Head of House of a large college at Oxford University. That probably accounts for his high salary, some of which is presumably paid by the college and/or the university (for he will lecture also) rather than the CoE.

  • disqus_N9Jawtu8Uw

    One of the newspapers claimed he is an expert…. Expert in what exactly because he’s certainly not an expert in the Church.

  • John

    Wherever the Church of England behaves as a pastoral chaplaincy for a Christian nation it will decline. In the places where it behaves as a missionary movement in a post-Christian nation it will win people to Christ and see growth. Percy needs to get with the programme.

    • dannybhoy

      I agree. It was through a Church of England curate that I came to faith, although the groundwork had been laid by the saints in the Open Brethren church my mother attended.
      The vicar at that time was the Rev. John Collins and the church enjoyed a wonderful time of growth.
      The Cof E is a funny creature, a result of a selfish king’s dispute with the Pope, resulting in a wayward willful daughter who was torn between obedience to the monarch and obedience to the King of kings..
      Were the CofE to separate itself from the State, it would begin to blossom and bear fruit, because those who don’t believe or seek the approval of men would leave.

      • David

        Amen to that.

  • chefofsinners

    Secular Sorcery? I had a testicular torsery once. Nasty business.

    • sarky

      Bit of a balls up was it?

      • carl jacobs

        That joke was criminal. You should be prosecuted.

        • Twisted, more like.

          • carl jacobs

            Wow. if even Jack thought that joke was twisted, it must be worse than I thought.

          • It was poorly researched. He doesn’t know his undescended testicle from his testicular torsion. But then, that’s Sarky for you.

          • sarky

            It’s all a load of b####cks!!

    • Inspector General

      Today’s magistrates do show a flair for imagination at times…

    • Bit of a bell clapper ….

  • Inspector General

    So, where is this Church of the English going…

    “And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:
    “Master, what is it that I hear? Who are those people so defeated by their pain?”
    And he to me: “This miserable way is taken by the sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise.
    They now commingle with the coward angels, the company of those who were not rebels nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.
    The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened, have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them — even the wicked cannot glory in them.”
    Dante Alighieri, Inferno

    Oh Yes, room for you there too, Eustace…There’s room for all who deserve that place…

  • len

    Most Churches are facing problems and the way they respond to these problems is critical. Man made solutions just will not work because no man alone has the solution.Some Churches have watered down the Gospel and become more like social organisations where the Gospel barely gets a mention…
    The Church needs to be honest with itself and with the problems it faces and then apply the solution Christ Himself gives in His Letter’ to the Churches’.(Revelation 2:1–3:22)

  • Shadrach Fire

    Clerical MBA’s. What’s wrong with that? You can write much better with a sharp pencil than a dull one.

  • David

    The C of E needs two things. Firstly it needs to return to Biblical truths and to be led, not by the prevailing culture, but by the Holy Spirit.
    Secondly it needs to sharpen up its administration and improve its business practices. This is should result in more time available for the ground troops to do their core work, to preach the gospel and exercise their pastoral duties.
    Providing the tail does not start wagging the dog, and the Church remembers that first and foremost it is a spiritual, not business, endeavour I see mainly good coming from better management.

    • DannyEastVillage

      Strange how you’re able to ignore one of the most important lessons to be gleaned from biblical scholarship, namely, that each and every book in the bible was/is demonstrably influenced, conditioned, even driven by the culture in which it arose. In the case of many or most books of the bible, they were re-edited repeatedly to suit changing religious, social and other norms.

  • Bill Kenny

    ‘the liberal narrative propounded by the Guardian.’ Please stop with the Americanisms??The Guardian and those who are lead by it are not liberal in any real or traditional sense, they are socialists.