Carrying cross2b
Church of England

The Times takes another swipe at the Archbishop of Canterbury

 

Reasoned criticism of the Church of England is always welcome: as a human institution it boasts of no perfection; as a provisional branch of the Catholic Church it makes no claim to eschatological fulfilment; as a temporal organisation it is riven with division, deficiency and dishonour. And as a mere man, the Archbishop of Canterbury is steeped in failure, frailty and fallibility.

And he knows it.

Which is why The Timeslatest attack on his spiritual integrity, missiological preference and theological priorities is both ill-conceived and graceless. It is a curate’s egg of a piece by Tim Montgomerie, expressing certainly some valid insights into the political culture that may be seen to pervade the House of Bishops, but evidencing profound ignorance of the establishment, organisation, governance, ministry and mission of the Church of England.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a pope: he has no pre-Reformation buttons to press or levers to pull by which he may make the Church in his image (thankfully). He doesn’t bestride the Anglican Episcopate like Margaret Thatcher straddled her Cabinet: he can’t sack the “wets” and promote those who are “one of us” as he sees fit. He has been in the job for barely two years, and is working pragmatically with what he inherited from preceding governments and archbishops. And, pace The Times, the consensus across the irreconcilable wings of the Church and antithetical jaws of the world is that he’s doing a rather good job. You may not always agree with him, but his sincerity, values, conviction, compassion and capacity for the Kingdom are manifest and appreciable.

He is the superintendent of all ecclesial matters in the province of Canterbury, with direct responsibility for 29 dioceses; oversight of all other bishops; obligations to preside over sundry conferences, councils, societies and synods; and the duty to commune personally with the 38 self-governing churches, 500 dioceses, 30,000 parishes and 64,000 individual congregations across 164 countries that constitute the the Worldwide Anglican Communion. He has dedicated cumulative months to visiting every province, greeting his brothers and sisters with a holy kiss, worshipping where there is joy and weeping where there is grief. He has walked through burned-out churches, and waded through the rotting bodies of those who have died for their faith in Christ. He has stood at the side of mass graves, consecrated the ground, listened to the cries of the lonely and bereft, bowed his head and wept.

Given this global pastoral mission of compassion, this burden of ecclesial jurisdiction, the passion for peace and reconciliation, and the complex liaison with strained communities with competing faith perspectives across the Communion, for The Times to opine that “Justin Welby should recognise the benefits of the wealth-producing private sector and curb his love of big government,” seems crass, shallow and uncharitable.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a theologically-illiterate or politically-naive halfwit, with no knowledge of the private sector, no grasp of economics, and no understanding of the incremental tensions between individual liberty and state coercion. When The Times lectures this Archbishop with its shoulds and oughts, they evidence nothing but their own theological triviality.

It isn’t the first time, of course. After his Christmas sermon in 2013, the Archbishop was criticised for having the audacity even to mention foodbanks. This, for The Times, was outrageous. “Will Welby ever make the case for God?” bleated Philip Collins, as though he’d never heard another sermon by the Archbishop, and purposely turned a deaf ear to the profound case for God the Archbishop made in this one. For Tim Montgomerie, the mere mention of foodbanks evidenced a “lack of discipline“. And now we get this stinging tirade:

“We’ve heard his views on banking reform, Wonga, food banks, energy companies and welfare reform but where is his big intervention on the miraculous nature of Jesus Christ?”

A cursory glance at the Archbishop’s website would demonstrate how silly that is. Perhaps The Times would care to give over its ‘Comment’ section to an extended piece by Archbishop Justin on the miraculous nature of Jesus Christ? Or, indeed, give regular coverage to the many speeches, sermons, tweets and writings he issues on a weekly basis? He explains in the Archbishop of York’s recent book On Rock or Sand?:

The Church expresses its ‘core business’ of worshipping God and calling people to Christ by trying to exemplify God’s desire for solidarity throughout his creation. So you will find the Church offering debt advice courses, feeding and housing the homeless and vulnerable, standing with those who are sick or face injustice (p38).

Without defending the book per se (which could easily have included an essay by just one prominent Conservative peer to help defuse much of the partisan criticism), in the combined three chapters by both Archbishops (excluding footnotes) the word ‘God’ appears 113 times, ‘Jesus’ 51 times and ‘Christ’ 23 times. The words ‘Conservative’, ‘Coalition’, ‘Cameron’, or for that matter ‘Labour’ do not appear in those chapters at all. References to Government are, in almost majority, abstract, historic or plural. But then we get this criticism:

“..nowhere in the contributions of Welby.. is there any reflection on the failures of the state”

This is simply untrue. Archbishop Justin states unequivocally: “There have been numerous and varied attempts by our governments to rescue cities in decline” (p32), with the conclusion: “Nothing has really worked so far” (p33). He goes on to criticise President Hollande’s tax-and-spend policies: “It is equally hard to find examples of other countries where economic problems are solved with purely economic solutions. France continues to struggle despite increases in government spending and taxation” (p34). And says unequivocally: “Nor can governments by themselves solve the problem. More dependency on cash injected on the basis of some grand plan or strategy, or dependency on the collateral benefits of a free market, are not sufficient answers” (pp36f). He expands: “..and the market is an extraordinarily efficient mechanism of distribution in a complex society” (p46).

He continues: “The temptation to call on government to pass laws to abolish everything that is bad in society is seductive but needs to be resisted” (p48). “Nor can we rely on hand-outs from governments with financial constraints of their own and locked in a five-year election cycle” (p49). And if Times journalists could be bothered to read a little wider, we get this speech to the Methodist Conference in 2013:

Beveridge wrote a second, less well-known report called ‘Voluntary Action’, which reflected his concern that the state must not take on all responsibility for care of the weak, the vulnerable or the unfortunate. The state is good at being universal, but it can’t be personal. The state can’t put its arm around you. The state can’t welcome you into a church and say, “You matter.” The state can’t hand you support in a way that is not condescending, or the creation of dependency. There need to be strong and varied intermediate structures of voluntary action.

But, for The Times, Archbishop Justin displays a manifest ignorance:

“No awareness that the welfare state, while doing much good, has also created perverse incentives for the unemployed and unmarried”

Yet in the same book, he writes: “..for most people the major source of stability and hope is found from engagement in a worthwhile occupation. This gives self-respect in enabling people to earn a living and provide for those around them.. Many people have boring work, or work that they don’t enjoy. But no work is almost invariably even worse.. When God created us, he intended us to work, not to be idle” (p28).

Further: “..without recognition of the uniqueness of each locality, and the gifts and challenges that its history have moulded, a top-down imposition of policy will never gain the community ownership – or common bond – that is needed to deliver the practicalities of a society demanding solidarity” (p51).

“..no acknowledgment of the efforts that some church-going government ministers are making to create positive incentives to work or marry”

This is typical of so much crass and superficial Tory critique this Archbishop of Canterbury. Anyone can cherry-pick quotations or excise half-phrases from their context. But this criticism is evidence of either a purposely selective memory or an irrational prejudice. Less than a year ago, Archbishop Justin wrote on his blog about the Universal and Specific, in which he said:

..the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, has spent hard years turning himself into a leading and principled expert on welfare, its effects and shortcomings. He is introducing one of the biggest and most thorough reforms of a system that most people admit is shot full of holes, wrong incentives, and incredible complexity… The Work and Pensions Secretary is also attempting this series of reforms at a time when, through no fault of his own, government finances are more squeezed than at any time in peace since the 1930s. And reforms cost money. So he also has to manage a considerable task. That is why in my letter I was careful not to imply wrong motives or anything like that. Having met him, I am absolutely convinced he is trying to do something that he knows more about than most – and with the best possible motives.

Moreover, he issued a statement specifically welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement of plans to introduce a Married Couple’s Tax Allowance. He wrote: “We welcome all support for family life and we’re pleased that this initiative includes both married couples and those in civil partnerships.” But still the Montgomerie criticisms pour forth:

“Silent, too, about the dangers of government debt”

The stance that Archbishop Justin has taken against debt – whether personal, in the context of payday lending and credit union alternatives,  or corporate, in the context of his involvement in the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards – is very well documented.

“..he’s building on the sandy thinking of his immediate predecessors rather than on the rock of his church in London”

Archbishop Justin’s association with HTB and other growing churches is well known, as is his support for evangelism and mission. The idea that his focus is not on these things also ignores his publicly-stated three priority areas:

1. The renewal of prayer and the Religious Life
2. Reconciliation
3. Evangelism and witness

One must seriously question the spiritual discernment of the Christian who believes this constitutes building on sand. A primary purpose of the Church of England is to speak truth to power. It does this whichever party is in government, for that is part of its mission. There may be criticisms of policy and rifts over outcomes, but from this Archbishop of Canterbury it is not superficially tendentious, prejudicially one-sided or in any sense party political.

The Times owes Justin Welby an apology. Either that, or a conciliatory invitation to write an extended piece on the miraculous nature of Jesus Christ.

  • Linus

    Welby is owed nothing. He has to make his case and get the media cover it. So far he’s only been able to do so when pronouncing on controversial topics, because controversy sells newspapers. Expositions of the supposed miracles of Jesus Christ do not sell newspapers.

    Welby is hampered in his quest for more media attention by three things that have hampered all of his predecessors since the war.

    1) Very few people are interested in hearing about Jesus Christ.

    2) The idea that the Church deserves deference has all but disappeared from English society.

    3) Most importantly, no archbishop in modern times has possessed the kind of charisma and presence needed to command and hold the public’s attention.

    We live in a media age. The Catholics understand this much better than the Church of England. Two out of three of their most recent Popes have had charisma in spades and garnered huge attention in the media.

    If Anglicans want to make a splash, they should find themselves a photogenic archbishop with media presence, dress him in white or black rather than mustard or dodgy purple, two colours that virtually nobody, least of all pale balding Englishmen, can look good in, send him to a reputable orthodontist for emergency resurfacing of mahogany teeth, and then wheel him out on Newsnight with a selected few quotable soundbites, which is all that Paxman (if he’s still around) requires as the price of giving anyone an easy ride.

    Do that and you might start getting the positive coverage you covet.

    Continue in the present vein and you’ll just keep on being fading away into oblivion.

    • bluedog

      ‘We live in a media age. The Catholics understand this much better than the Church of England.’

      Well there we have it, the Roman Church prefers form to substance.

      • Linus

        In Wojtyla they had both. In Ratzinger only substance (unpleasant as it was).

        In Bergoglio one is tempted to say only form, although it’s early days yet. But throwaway comments like “You toucha my Mamma, I breaka your face!” don’t bode well. From the Church’s point of view. From mine they could hardly bode better!

        • Lupus, Jack advises you not to be too confident. The Pope remains popular and In recent weeks has spoken out against the perversity of homosexual ‘marriage’.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Good for him.

          • Abortion and self centred contraception too, Shadrach.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Good…that means non self interest contraception is OK !

          • Just as long as its natural and not artificial.

          • Anton

            Can you define what is natural and what is artificial?

          • Coitus interuptus, masturbation, mutual masturbation, anal sex, oral sex, homosexual sex, bestiality, abortion, or any other act involving sexual gratification which in any way prohibits procreation.

          • Anton

            Why, in your opinion, is one husband and wife who avoid conception by avoiding sexual intercourse during the fertile period not sinning, but another couple, who use barrier methods, sinning, even though both couples have identical intention? If the answer is that you consider barrier methods to indicate without doubt that this act of sex is an act of lust, would you fill in the argumentation leading to that assertion? The sex act involves both the giving and receiving of pleasure in an act that is shared, and this would be true of each couple.

          • “Why, in your opinion, is one husband and wife who avoid conception by avoiding sexual intercourse during the fertile period not sinning, but another couple, who use barrier methods, sinning, even though both couples have identical intention?”

            Because one couple is not engaging in an unnatural process that wilfully and artificially obstructs the God given purpose of the conjugal act – procreation. On this basis, it is not an act of total, selfless giving but directed exclusively at other purposes which may be good in themselves, sexual satisfaction, intimacy and love, but is intrinsically incomplete.

            “If the answer is that you consider barrier methods to indicate without doubt that this act of sex is an act of lust, could you fill in the argumentation leading to that assertion?”

            What’s lust got to do with it? That’s is not the issue at all.
            “The sex act involves both the giving and receiving of pleasure in an act that is shared, and this would be true of each couple.”

            Well, yes. So? In the case of one couple the unity of the conjugal act is thwarted.

          • Anton

            Procreation is the only purpose of copulation in animals. The fact that the god made the human female, unlike the mammalian female, to be sexually receptive even when infertile, indicates that procreation is not the entire purpose of copulation in humans. As your chain of reasoning to your conclusion supposes that it is the entire purpose, your conclusion is unproven. The great majority of Roman Catholics disagree, of course. Perhaps the fact that they have personal knowledge of what they are talking about helps them to reach a better understanding.

          • “Procreation is the only purpose of copulation in animals. The fact that the god made the human female, unlike the mammalian female, to be sexually receptive even when infertile, indicates that procreation is not the entire purpose of copulation in humans.”

            We are not animals, Anton. Generating new life is the purpose of the loving, conjugal act. In order to sustain the permanent, life long relationship between spouses to grow in love and friendship together and to raise children, it also facilitates this through intimacy and pleasure.

            “As your chain of reasoning to your conclusion supposes that it is the entire purpose, your conclusion is unproven.”

            Jack has not said it is its “entire purpose” but that it is its primary purpose. In coitus, but not in other forms of sexual contact, or where artificial contraception is used, a man and a woman’s bodies coordinate by way of their sexual organs for the common biological purpose of reproduction.

            “The great majority of Roman Catholics disagree, of course. Perhaps the fact that they have personal knowledge of what they are talking about helps them to reach a better understanding.”

            And this demonstrates what exactly?

          • Anton

            Work it out for yourself!

          • The majority of Christians accept abortion is acceptable. Does this make it moral? The majority of Christians accept homosexual ‘marriage’, does this make it moral? Soon, euthanasia will become more acceptable, will this then be moral?

          • Anton

            The majority of people who call themselves Christian might deplorably accept those things but few of them do them. They are talking about things they don’t know much about. Whereas in the case of Roman Catholicism and contraception the majority is talking about something it does know something about, ie marital sex, and the hierarchy is talking about something it knows nothing about (in theory, anyway…)

          • The evidence is against you on abortion and homosexual ‘marriage’, Anton. And soon it will be same with euthanasia. Look at the change in attitudes regarding adultery, cohabitation and divorce and remarriage.

            The Catholic Church understands these matters and where a contracepting mentality leads – a ‘culture of death’ and an assertion of man’s rights and desires above God’s laws.

            Are you claiming one has to be married or sexually active to discern God’s laws about this?

          • Anton

            I am claiming that it helps to know what you are talking about. That is why St Paul wrote to Timothy (1st letter, ch.3) that an episkopos should govern his family well; thereby ruling against Roman Catholic enforced episcopal celibacy.

            I don’t understand what assertion you think I have made about abortion or homosexual ‘marriage’, regarding which “the evidence is against me”. I am against abortion and State recognition of gay pledges as marriage, and where I have commented on those things I have never said otherwise.

          • “I am claiming that it helps to know what you are talking about.”
            We are agreed on that, Anton.

          • Saint Paul certainly closed the door of having more that one wife.

            The evidence is that most Christians are in favour of abortion and homosexual ‘marriage’ – and, once again, most denominations are caving in just as they did on contraception. It was you who cited majority opinion and personal knowledge as somehow authoritative. Remember:

            “The great majority of Roman Catholics disagree, of course. Perhaps the fact that they have personal knowledge of what they are talking about helps them to reach a better understanding.”

      • Bluedog, now you accept the analysis of Lupus as authoritative?

        • bluedog

          When it suits my purpose.

          Off topic, but have you ever thought of getting out of the habit of using demeaning nicknames as a control mechanism in your relations with communicants who annoy you? You did it with Len who you christened (disgracefully) ‘Weatsop’ and now you do it with Linus, who you call Lupus. Linus can look after himself, but it must seem strange to a new poster to have to put up with this infantile practice. It’s not a sign of strength of argument, more an act of harassment. Why do it?

          • Len’s nickname was ‘Weasel’ and t was the Inspector who named him. As for Lupus, its not a control mechanism. It’s how Jack sees him.

          • bluedog

            My recollection is very different, and I’ll leave it at that. Please don’t ask me to comment on any post you may make using your own name for another communicant.

    • Athanasius

      I do think it a little shallow to imply that we promote cardinals to the Throne of Peter for media value, Linus. We like to think the Holy Spirit has a little something to do with it. As one commentator suggested at the time of Francis’ accession, the Church gets the pope it needs, not the one it wants. Personally, I wish Benedict had not abdicated, but unfortunately, I don’t get a vote in these things.

      • Linus

        Perhaps the Holy Ghost understands the importance of media in our culture and chooses Popes accordingly.

        Papa Ratzi may have been exception that proves the rule. In any case, media coverage of the Catholic Church could hardly have been any more sycophantic than it was under Wojtyla. The circus surrounding his eventual demise and canonisation would have ensured coverage for even the most uncharismatic successor, so perhaps the Holy Ghost thought it could get away with a dull administrator and theologian for a few years. After all, it must have known that known that Papa Paco would perk things up again soon enough.

        Either that or there is no Holy Ghost and the cardinals are responsible for their own choices.

        Either way, nothing prevents media presence from being a criterion in the papal selection process.

        • Anton

          Papa Ratzi, brilliant!

          • IanCad

            I agree!

        • Athanasius

          “Holy Ghost”? Linus, dear boy, do I detect the scent of a lapsed Catholic?

          • Linus

            Not so much “lapsed” as “cured”. I was never struck down by the most virulent strain of the disease and my strong natural immunity let me fight the weakened virus off with ease. You could say I’m a textbook case of the benefits of inoculation.

          • Lupus, you mistake immunity for the systemic autoimmune spiritual disease your are clearly suffering.

      • Sometimes Athanasius, and it pains Jack to say it, the Church gets the Pope it deserves.

    • Hi Linus

      I could be wrong but i think the bishops of the church of England are chosen by the prime minister(who could be a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, atheist or Martian) after a committee has given him/her 2 candidates to pick…

      • Linus

        Who chooses the selection committee?

        In any case, if the selection of bishops is left up to politicians then I’m not surprised they’re all so lackluster. No prime minister wants a media savvy, highly popular guardian of Christian morals breathing down his neck. Old Ma Mountbatten might remonstrate with him in private from time to time, but her position forbids open criticism. So if he chooses a tame archbishop, or at least one with virtually no chance of being noticed by the media, then he’s off the hook and can do what he likes.

        Smart move, Mr Cameron. A media pygmy installed at Lambeth Palace, and Buckingham Palace in an uproar over yet another sordid sex scandal, and who’s got the moral authority to challenge you now?

        • Anton

          It was interesting recently to see President Hollande marching for press freedom after his attempts to prevent the publication of details of his love life almost exactly a year ago.

          • Linus

            What’s Hollande’s love life got to do with the selection process for English bishops?

            In any case, if you want to criticize Hollande, go right ahead. He’s done a couple of good things (e.g. equal marriage, intervention in Mali), but he’s as devious and double-dealing as any other politician. Roll on 2017 and let’s see what devious double-dealer we get then.

          • Anton

            Yes, we agree about politicians.

          • bluedog

            ‘Roll on 2017 and let’s see what devious double-dealer we get then.’
            Even the Left will vote for Sarko to keep out Le Pen and Sarko will reward them by repealing SSM.

          • Linus

            Sarko can’t repeal equal marriage. If he tries, the Conseil Constitutionnel will veto the attempt, just as the equivalent court did when Rajoy tried to repeal equal marriage laws in Spain.

            The English just can’t get their heads around the principle of the “droit acquis”, can they?

          • bluedog

            If Sarkozy is elected on a mandate that specifically includes repeal of SSM he will succeed in doing so. One cannot imagine that Sarko would include such a measure in his platform if implementation was impossible.

            And it’s SSM, not equal marriage. The union of two individuals of the same sex is manifestly different to the marriage of a man and a woman. Human biology has not evolved as quickly as human political thought.

          • Linus

            Your ignorance of the French Constitution means you don’t understand that Sarko’s game is to fool ignorant Manif pour tous voters into supporting him by promising to repeal the equal marriage law if he’s elected.

            He will try, but the attempt will be vetoed by our constitutional court. He’ll then be able to say to his outraged voters “Hey, not my fault! I kept my promise and tried!”

            Sarko is nothing if not devious. He wants Manif pour tous votes, so he’s willing to mislead them into thinking he can change a law that is protected under the equal rights clauses of our Constitution. If Manif pour tous voters had a braincell to spare from basic physiological functions and praying on their knees, they might understand this and realise they’re being manipulated by a cynic. But they don’t. Although they will eventually.

            Exactly the same thing happened in Spain. Check it out on the Internet. Maybe then you’ll understand that once equal marriage laws are passed, they’re here to stay.

        • Hi Linus

          Okay like sifting through the silly reference to “ma mountbatten” and stuff about sex scandals…

          1). You know what, I don’t know about the byzantine way the Anglicans choose committees…

          2). I’m not sure welby doesn’t get media attention because this article is media attention and so was the Times article (albeit negative). In fact welby does get media attention, good and bad. But clerics aren’t there to be photogenic media savvy, are they? And would you want them to be? Look at America and all their silly television evangelists…

        • dannybhoy

          Well said Linus.

      • Stephen Lynas

        You are wrong.

        Bishops are ‘discerned’ by a body called the Crown Nominatins Commission. It has 6 reps elected by the diocese concerned, and six elected to represent the C of E nationally.

        Since Gordon Brown’s time the PM is effectively just a mailbox: he has to pass on the two names given to the CNC to the Queen in the order of preference he receives, and she has to invite the first name. So the PM has no active role nowadays.

        (Served on a CNC so saw it at first hand).

        • Okay, fair enough.

        • CliveM

          Thank you for that explanation. Much needed.

        • CliveM

          Out of interest, if she has to choose he first, why send two?

          • Stephen Lynas

            Well, you have to allow for the possibility that the preferred candidate might say ‘No’ at the last fence. Or they might have health issues that pop up….

          • dannybhoy

            Easy.
            Like important files they easily get lost or go missing…

          • CliveM

            Interesting I never got notified of this message.

        • dannybhoy

          You really believe there is no whispering in the right ear, or huddles in clubby corners??
          Rubbish!
          The former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir- Ali would have been an excellent choice.

          http://michaelnazirali.com/

          • Stephen Lynas

            Yes I do (believe no huddles and whispering). I have been there so I know.

          • dannybhoy

            Stephen Lynas.
            ” I have been there so I know.”
            With the greatest of respect I am not sure that proves anything much.
            Let’s say for example the popular choice in Synod was a Bible believing conservative with evangelical leanings, who believed the CofE’s role was to speak Christian morality and values into the Establishment and Parliament as well as public life, do you think he would be chosen by the government of the day?

            I am sure from what you say that this article by Rowan Williams will be familiar to you, but my point is that no Archbishop is going to be appointed that might cause embarrassment, anger or resentment. He’s going to be ‘acceptable’ to and ‘supportive’ of the government of the day. The areas in which he is able to voice an opinion or to question will be proscribed, and he will most certainly be politically correct.

          • Stephen Lynas

            With equal respect…
            a) ‘popular choice in Synod’ does not apply (whoever it might be.). It is the 12 CNC (16) for an Archbishop)members who do the discerning.
            b) ‘chosen by the government of the day’ does not apply either. As previously posted, Downing St and the Crown go with the name(s) that the CNC choose. End of.
            c) I don’t recall Archbishops Runcie or Williams being ‘acceptable’ or ‘supportive’ to Governments. Welby isn’t exactly a Coalition man either.
            d) ‘Politically Correct’ is a pretty meaningless phrase nowadays, but if it means anything it means secular-minded and mealy-mouthed. See (c) above!

          • dannybhoy

            “I don’t recall Archbishops Runcie or Williams being ‘acceptable’ or
            ‘supportive’ to Governments. Welby isn’t exactly a Coalition man either.”
            Stephen, I did say that dissent would be tolerated within boundaries.
            According to the Oxford dictionary Political Correctness is defined as

            “The avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against:
            e.g. women like him for his civil rights stand and political correctness”
            Thus in recent years the CofE has confined itself to relative poverty, employment, benefits, immigration, equality, inclusion and diversity and pondering homosexuality.

            It would be interesting Stephen, to know what you yourself believe about the role of the CofE in society, the importance and trustworthiness of the Bible, the divinity of our Lord, and belief, assent and commitment to Christ Jesus as being the only road to reconciliation with God.

          • Stephen Lynas

            Feel free to google my blog, which will tell you more than I have space to put in a post…

          • dannybhoy

            Stephen,
            Thanks for the invitation. I took it up. You are a learned chap and as far as I can see a kindly chap with a loving wife to support you.
            What led you to entering the ministry?
            Was Jesus an Anglican do you think?
            Is Jesus the centre of your life, or the CofE?
            I am a reluctant deanery and synod representative for our church.
            Why reluctant?
            Because I am not an Anglican, but none of the Anglicans in our small congregation want to do it….

        • Phil R

          The problem Welby has is exactly this process. The Bishops who elected him we all from the dying section of the communion.

          There was a worldwide rep it is true, however he was he was the ArchBishop of Wales Barry Morgan. He is a fanatical liberal and true to form heads a bankrupt and empty branch of the Anglican Communion as a consequence.

          The worldwide and rapidly growing Anglican Churches were not represented.

          Therefore Welby has no authority of any sort over them. They have no respect Welby and liberal Western Anglicanism and they are right to do so.

    • William Lewis

      “Welby is owed nothing.”

      He’s owed an apology for “sloppy journalism” at best, or a right of reply. At least assuming people are interested in discerning and honouring the truth rather than hearing bald assertions or observing someone make a splash. Though clearly that assumption cannot be taken for granted in this superficial society.

      • Linus

        If newspapers granted a right of reply to everyone they criticize, they’d look very different to the way they do today.

        Welby will get his right of reply if the publication in question believes that printing it will increase its circulation. But is the public straining at the leash to know what Justin Welby thinks? Does the vast majority of the public even know who he is?

        • William Lewis

          Well, clearly the Times think there is enough public interest in who he is and what he has said to write a, badly researched, article on that very subject. Perhaps they take the view that today’s “straining at the leash” articles are tomorrow’s chip paper.

          • Linus

            The Times is taking a pot shot at an easy target. People will read the article, have their negative opinions of the Church and churchmen confirmed, and then think no more of it. I doubt very much they’ll be scanning their papers eagerly for Welby’s rebuttal. That’s not what print journalism is all about in the world we live in. It isn’t really what it’s ever been about.

            In any case, Welby can always write a stiff letter to the editor and see if they print that. They might. For a laugh.

    • dannybhoy

      “1) Very few people are interested in hearing about Jesus Christ.”

      This is manifestly not true Linus, as there are churches all over the place where they are seeing growth, combining evangelism with social interaction.

      • Linus

        “Very few” is a relative term.

        In terms of the overall population, very few are interested in hearing about Jesus Christ.

        • dannybhoy

          Accepted. At the moment I am reading a book about Billy and Ruth Graham. Billy Graham as you probably know was the greatest evangelist of the modern era and reached literally millions of people.
          Millions became Christians because of his preaching, and many remain Christians to this day. One of the great wonders of Christian conversion is the change that starts from within and changes the individual for the better.
          One of the modern demonstrations of God’s power can be seen in an hour long programme called “The Father of Light.” It’s on youtube and shows how even hardened US gang members are changed by God’s love, besides some incredible acts of divine guidance. I hope you might take the time to watch it. Regardless of how annoyed it may make you feel, I continue to pray for you.

          • Anton

            Well said! Broadsword calling Danny Bhoy…

          • Linus

            Pray for me all you like. It can do me no conceivable harm. Or good. It’s a waste of your time, but you’re entitled to use your time as you see fit.

          • dannybhoy

            Thank you Linus. I will.
            The fact that you continue here is an answer to prayer, however you see it. I think you are a far nicer person than your persona admits.

      • sarky

        What about the survey this week on people in their40’s that showed 54% of men and 35% of women claim to be atheist/agnostic. If this included the younger generation, which statisticly is even less interested, then I think Linus has got apoint

        • dannybhoy

          ” If this included the younger generation, which statisticly is even less interested, then I think Linus has got a point.”

          Yes Linus has a point, but the real problem is that the Church of England wants to be a department of Social Services rather than the servant and representative of her Lord Jesus Christ.
          Why would anyone assume that the goal of the (true) church is to be popular and win more votes than Celebrity Big Brother or “Dead Enders”?
          Did our Lord Jesus change His world?
          No!
          He talked about the sheep and the goats, the tares and the wheat. God respects YOUR free will choices. He isn’t going to force you to embrace agape love and forgiveness.If you insist on doing your own thing, He will reluctantly accept your decision. You prefer to remain part of the problem than part of the solution, that’s your choice.

          The Church has a responsibility to be both salt and light in society. If you don’t want that, opt for Islam. If you don’t like Islam or any religion, go for a totalitarian state because that’s ultimately your only other option.
          George Orwell got it right in “1984.”
          The (true) Church represents the living God on earth, and through their changed lives demonstrates His redemptive power. That’s what we offer to those living in the kingdom of darkness.

          • Linus

            No. The real point is that young people look at the Christian message of hatred and exclusion and reject it out of hand.

            When asked to describe Christianity in one word, the most common responses among American teenagers are “homophobic” and “anti-gay”.

            They know what the Church really stands for. Hatred, not love. Thankfully most of them want nothing to do with it.

          • dannybhoy

            Linus old chap,
            This is where you show your anger, and perhaps rejection. I won’t say it is irrational because you clearly aren’t disturbed.
            But there is an emotional reaction hidden behind an intellectual rejection.
            I don’t think you have ever read the New Testament. You may have dipped into it, but not actually read it with an open mind and heart.
            I would hazard a guess that you have been told that homosexuals are really evil and must repent and turn away from your homosexuality or face damnation?

            I personally think that is the wrong emphasis. The message of the Bible, of Christ Himself is that all men are sinners, and that unless we acknowledge that we are sinners and ask forgiveness and ask Him to come into our hearts, then the Holy Spirit cannot begin that work of redemption and renewal.
            I am as much a sinner as you are. Perhaps in different areas, but nevertheless I still occasionally deliberately sin and have to ask forgiveness.
            Overall though, I can say that I am a very different, much happier, outgoing caring and considerate man than I was before my conversion, and all those changes are because of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

          • Linus

            It’s perfectly normal to be angry at an institution that lies about you, tries to manipulate public opinion against you and then slanders you for good measure.

            The Church tells the world that gays are sinners because we love each other and give physical expression to that love. This is a lie.

            The Ku Klux Klan tells the world that blacks are inferior because of the colour of their skin. This is also lie.

            The Nazi Party told the world that Jews were subhuman because of supposed racial inferiority. That was a lie too.

            You wouldn’t bat an eyelash if an African American expressed anger towards the KKK. Nor would you be shocked if a Jew told you he disliked Nazis. And yet the fact that I don’t like the Church surprises you?

            Isn’t it amazing how you’re happy to recognize grievances against everyone except yourself?

          • dannybhoy

            But there is an illogicality in what you are saying Linus.
            We aren’t talking about the Church, we’re talking about Christianity

            So where do you find in Christianity that we are taught to hate others?
            Never mind what the church(es) say, what does Christianity say? It says we are ALL sinners, regardless of how that sin is expressed.
            There is someone on another blog who is gay but also devout as regards their religion. One can only say that homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments.
            I have said before on this blog that I have met homosexuals who say that they knew from a very early age that they were different. I have known and worked with a Christian who was homosexual and fought against it for years. He married, they had a child together and some years later he left them and went back to a gay lifestyle.
            Do I condemn him? Of course not. It’s not my place to condemn. Only God knows what was in his heart when he died. I do however think that some people are led into homosexuality by upbringing, or the influence of an older person.
            To my mind a homosexual isn’t a sinner because he or she is a homosexual; they are a sinner because God says we are all sinners.

          • Linus

            “We’re all sinners” depends on how you define sin. If by sin you mean lying, cheating and murdering, then yes, we’re all sinners. But if you include having intimate relations with the person you love as a sin, but not for you, only for me, then sin becomes a selective concept you can use to beat up those you don’t like and punish them for being different.

            The Christian concept of sin is not a level playing field. It unfairly stigmatizes whole groups of people and targets them for a lifetime of deprivation and suffering. And this for no good reason other than “God says so”.

            It’s understandable to stigmatize habitual liars, for example. Their behaviour harms others and society as a whole, although even Christians admit that certain kinds of lies aren’t sinful when they’re designed to prevent harm rather than cause it. It’s the “white lie” you tell to spare someone unnecessary suffering that I’m talking about. For example, my mother’s “oh you look lovely in that!” to one of my fat English aunts as she tried her best to make the poor woman presentable for a posh evening out. Even when shoehorned into my mother’s most capacious maternity gown, la pauvre tante still looked like a Zeppelin wearing a condom. But sisterly affection required some form of encouragement, so Maman gritted her teeth and proceeded to lie through them as we children, with all the frankness of innocent youth, fell about laughing and fled the dressing room shouting “Attention ! Elle va péter !”

            So Christians lie. But it’s only a sin when harm is intended. Why then is homosexuality a sin when no demonstrable harm is done by it? When consenting adults enage in private activity that harms neither them, nor anyone else, who is harmed? Is the receptive partner in a gay relationship harming himself more than a straight woman who, after multiple pregnancies and births, finds herself suffering from acute vaginal prolapse, or worse? Surely her divinely approved sexual activity should cause her no harm at all. A far, far greater percentage of straight women are harmed by the sex they have than the tiny number of gay men who suffer physical harm because of what they do. And on a global scale, more heterosexuals suffer from sexually transmitted diseases than do gays. No demonstrable harm can be attached to gay sex that can’t also be attached to straight sex. And yet gay sex is a sin whereas straight sex is not?

            The Christian definition of sin is not only based on harm done, but also on a wish to cause harm to those who depart from certain arbitrary norms. So to say that “we’re all sinners” is to lie. You sin in ways that you know cause harm. So do I, but I also sin in ways that cause no harm, but that you just don’t happen to like. So we don’t all sin in the same way. My behaviour is subject to a more demanding and totally arbitrary standard. Why? So you can punish me for being different.

            That’s what the Christian definition of sin is all about. Hatred and exclusion. Gay sex is a sin purely and simply so you have an excuse to persecute us and make us suffer. That’s Christian “love” for you. And that’s why Christianity is dying out in educated, reasonable, fair-minded societies.

          • dannybhoy

            Well that certainly isn’t illogical, and I agree with many of your points.
            So if you don’t mind I will quote your observations and respond .
            “”We’re all sinners” depends on how you define sin. If by sin you mean
            lying, cheating and murdering, then yes, we’re all sinners.”
            that’s the point. We all sin in various ways and to varying degrees. But Christianity says that the real problem is our estrangement from God, and whether through blindness, or unbelief or wilfulness, our refusal to prayerfully consider God’s solution.
            Which is of course this…

            “16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

            If I may put it to you this way Linus, one day you are walking down the street and hearing a street preacher cry,
            “You must be born again!”
            You carry on by shaking your head. You don’t know the man and you don’t believe anyway.
            But let’s consider another scenario.
            Someone you love and respect tells you he or she has something very important that they wish to tell you.
            You sit down together in a room and they proceed to tell you that they have become a Christian.
            You are shocked. As they continue you become alarmed.
            This is someone you love, you respect them. You share the same intellectual views on life, enjoyed similar activities, laughed at the same jokes, and now they have gone religious?
            Depending on the strength of your relationship you will experience bewilderment, anger, frustration, even abandonment. They no longer want to do the same things, their views are changing. You argue with them, but to no avail.
            Their new happiness is undeniable. There is some indefinable change that has altered your previous relationship, and yet they insist that they still love you, they want your relationship to continue -but something has died. Something is so different now and you resent it.
            It may signify the end of your relationship and both of you will grieve, or it may be that your relationship may be so strong that you begin to calm and to start really listening.

            For the sake of your relationship and the undeniable happiness you see you start to seek for yourself. Not in anger but in humility in the presence of your friend or alone you try talking to God as you would to that person you love and respect.
            You ‘tell’ this God you don’t believe in Him. You don’t need Him. Yet you can’t deny the changes in your friend and you ask this God to prove Himself to you, and convince you that He is real. You do this in all sincerity. You even start to read the New Testament and you ask this ‘God’ to help you understand it.

            Then let’s just say you do have a similar experience to your friend or relative. At that point Linus, I would say that the Holy Spirit will begin His work within your innermost being and He will convict you of sin and what He wants you to change or give up.
            My Christian friends might say that obviously first and foremost you need to repent of your homosexual relationship.
            Based on my own experience of Christians who were homosexual and fought against it to the point of marrying and having children, I would say let the Holy Spirit show you what to do.
            You make some very perceptive points Linus, and all I can say is that there are many Christians who struggle with particular issues in their lives and with varying degrees of victory!
            God loves us as His children. He knows what goes on in my heart and your heart. Please don’t allow the bad things you see or have experienced to stop you from seeking God for yourself.

          • Linus

            Nobody I love and respect has ever experienced the kind of miraculous conversion you describe. I have known people who have suddenly “found God”, but to a man and woman they’ve been troubled souls who tend to lurch from miraculous panacea to the next anyway. As I tend to lose contact with them, it’s hard to know whether they persist in their delusions or, after a time, lurch on to new ones. One former Christian I know is now a Buddhist. Who knows what he’ll be tomorrow?

            Not all of them change, of course. Some Christians clearly persist in their beliefs, but none of them I’ve ever interacted with is capable of responding to my arguments in a convincing manner. When faced with logical and coherent objections, they brush them aside, say “God exists, I just know it!” and then start quoting Bible texts at me, as if that somehow nullifies all objections and proves them right without need for further explanation. And then they wonder why I dismiss them as brainwashed zealots!

            As this is exactly what you have just done, I’m sure you’ll understand why your arguments, such as they are, fail to convince me. If this is the best Christian evangelism can do, I marvel at the faith’s ability to attract any converts at all.

          • dannybhoy

            “Nobody I love and respect has ever experienced the kind of miraculous conversion you describe.”
            That was just an illustration Linus, although I have to say that my own conversion was of that order. But it was part of a process over years. I became a Christian at the age of 22.
            Some things take time! CS Lewis recounts in his book “Mere Christianity ” that his conversion was a process, and that he was a “reluctant convert”.

            ” One former Christian I know is now a Buddhist. Who knows what he’ll be tomorrow?”
            Yes Jesus refers to this in His parable of the sower. There are people like this.

            “As this is exactly what you have just done, I’m sure you’ll understand
            why your arguments, such as they are, fail to convince me. If this is
            the best Christian evangelism can do, I marvel at the faith’s ability to
            attract any converts at all.”
            Linus I can only share with you my own experiences and my own thoughts on difficult issues.

          • Anton

            Much of the bad feeling between gays and evangelicals is because there are political prizes at stake, ie what the law should be. Under a dictatorship that persecuted both groups (and I can think of one…) I believe they would get on rather well. Christians would tell gays that, just like all other people, they need to repent of all their sins (not just one) and acknowledge Christ, and gays would either do so or not; end of discussion.

          • Linus

            We still would never agree on the definition of sin. So any alliance would be purely temporary and serve merely to defeat a common enemy.

            Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive, as the cognitive dissonance suffered by anyone who refers to himself as a “gay Christian” proves beyond a shadow of a doubt. The only way it can be resolved is for the gay Christian to modify Christianity in order to accommodate his sexuality, in which case it’s no longer Christianity but some kind of bizarre ersatz faith. Or he can try to modify himself in order to fit in with Christianity, which as the comments section of this website proves, is an utterly impossible undertaking.

            Christianity requires you to love your neighbour, but no Christian here seems capable of it. Flinging abuse and judgment, yes. Hating and criticising and condemning, absolutely. But loving? No chance! If Christianity doesn’t provide the wherewithall to restrain the expression of mere opinion, how much less can it rein in basic sexuality?

            The gay Christian who attempts celibacy as a means of adhering to his faith is sitting on a ticking timebomb that WILL explode, probably again and again. He’s caught in an endless cycle of “sin, repent, sin, repent”, which gives lie to the perfecting claims of his faith and slowly erodes his belief in it. It might hold for a season. In some cases of extreme personality disorder and/or religious mania, it may even hold indefinitely (at the expense of overall sanity, because something has to give and in cases such as this, it’s generally the believer’s grasp on reality). But for the common, everyday mortal, denial can only ever be a temporary solution doomed to failure as nature inexorably reasserts itself against an arbitrary and unrealistic moral code.

            Whatever temporary alliances the LGBT community might be able to make with Christians, there’s no chance of a permanent rapprochement.

          • Anton

            I agree that we would disagree. You, an atheist, understand the biblical position on homosexuality better than the gay Christian movement! Perhaps you don’t get the New Testament idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but too many Christians have been wantonly rude to you in this forum which is deplorable.

            As a point of information it is not difficult for God, who after all created the universe, to change the sexuality of a human being. The remarkable conversion testimony of Rosaria Butterfield, a former Queer Studies lecturer at an American university who now enjoys marital life with the man she subsequently married, is worth reading. God offers help to those who really want to change but how many do?

          • Linus

            Rosaria Butterfield is a religious obsessive whose mind manages to take every thought and feeling she has that doesn’t agree with her religious principles and lock them away in a dark corner of her subconscious. There the pressure will build and it remains to be seen whether her religious mania and clear strength of will combined are going to be able to resist that pressure for any length of time. Indeed time will tell. It certainly has in the case of other examples of “orientation change”. Do the names Alan Chambers, John Paulk and Jeremy Marks mean nothing to you?

            In any case, Ms Butterfield’s case, interesting though it may be to students of the obsessive mind, has little or no relevance to the average gay Christian. How does a normal, balanced mind muster enough obsessive willpower to suddenly declare itself to be what it is not? Because that’s all these “miraculous cures” are.

            Self-proclaimed miracles are proof of nothing, especially when almost all of them are disavowed some months or years later, when the claims of change are dropped and the “miraculously cured” person admits he was gay all along.

            There’s an easy way to verify self-proclaimed orientation change. Reliable physiological tests exist where a person is subjected to various kinds of erotic imagery and their involuntary physical responses are measured. To my knowledge, not a single “miraculously cured” individual has ever taken such a test and allowed the results to be openly published. Could it be they’re afraid that reality might not match up to their claims?

            If you’re gay, you’re gay. Independently verified change has never been recorded. Some bisexual individuals have shown evidence of shifting patterns of attraction at different times in their lives, but a bisexual orientation is clinically observable using the same physiological tests referred to above. Nobody has ever changed from totally gay to totally straight. Many have claimed to. None of those claims has ever been verified.

            Perhaps you’ll now understand why I treat claims of “miraculous change” with such skepticism. Rosaria Butterfield merely emphasizes the fraudulent and self-deceptive nature of the ex-gay movement. Offer her as an example of what God can do for gay people and you’ll very effectively undermine your own cause.

          • Anton

            You can’t provide any evidence for most of the statements you make about Rosaria Butterfield. She could not have made any such change in her own strength; I agree with you about that.

          • Linus

            And you can’t provide any evidence that her so-called “change” is miraculous and heaven-sent in nature.

            You claim Butterfield has experienced a miracle. I claim she’s experienced no change at all but is just living out a religiously motivated lie. You can’t show me any evidence of a miracle. I can show you plenty of evidence of similar cases where self-proclaimed ex-gays have admitted they were fooling themselves and everyone else because of the overwhelming pressure they faced from their religious communities to change.

            I know who most sensible people will believe.

          • Anton

            Your statements about Rosaria Butterfield are speculation; her statements about herself aren’t. I did not say that she had experienced a miracle, by the way; just a profound conversion that she could not have effected herself.

          • Linus

            Well we certainly agree that Ms Butterfield’s basic nature cannot have been changed by herself. If there is no God, she’s still a lesbian masquerading as a heterosexual.

            I believe there is no God, ergo Ms Butterfield has shut herself back in the closet, only this time she’s locked the door and swallowed the key.

          • Anton

            You are fully entitled to that opinion, Linus. I would add that you assume her “basic nature” was lesbian, meaning from birth. But all that can be known with certainty is that such people felt lesbian from as far back as their earliest memory. I would not exclude the possibility of sexual abuse perpetrated on her at a still younger age; those who remember it testify that it has an enormous effect on their sexuality.

          • “I claim she’s experienced no change at all but is just living out a religiously motivated lie.”

            Lupus, you defaming Butterfield by claiming she’s lying and that this subterfuge is motivated by religion.

            “I know who most sensible people will believe.”
            Hmmm ….

          • Linus

            Can the truth ever be categorized as defamation?

            If Ms Butterfield has solid clinical proof of her change in orientation, let her show it. If not, her claims are just claims. I’m at liberty to disbelieve them.

          • Lupus, a statement is defamatory in law if it can be shown that “…its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to reputation…”

            Ms Butterfield does not have to present any proof of any change at all. Having asserted: “I claim she’s experienced no change at all but is just living out a religiously motivated lie.”, the onus is on you to justify this statement and its imputation that she is lying for religious reasons.

            It is necessary for you to demonstrate that the basis of the opinion you expressed is one that an honest person could have arrived at based on the facts available. It falls on you to prove that the imputation conveyed by the statement: “I claim she’s experienced no change at all but is just living out a religiously motivated lie.” is substantially true. She has to demonstrate nothing other than reputational harm.

            Ms Butterfield is a real person, Lupus, not a pseudonym. You should therefore show restraint. If that’s possible for a compulsive hysteric who throws accusations and threats around and swcreams and swcreams because God did not make the world in ways that suit his particular proclivities of choice.

  • Anton

    Your Grace’s words confuse his readership. Above, he criticises The Times for opining that “Justin Welby should recognise the benefits of the wealth-producing private sector and curb his love of big government”. Yet on January 16th, did His Grace not criticise his successor Archbishop Justin here for much the same reason?

    Has His Grace not changed his mind before?

  • I do feel for revd Welby as he gets attacked from all angles… looks like the poor man just can’t win.

    • dannybhoy

      ” as he gets attacked from all angles”
      You mean anglicans?
      It is impossible to be all things to all men as is the motto of the CofE. Although they don’t put it like that; they say that “the CofE is a broad church” but it amounts to the same thing.
      That is why the AofC gets attacked from all sides. You try to please everybody and end up pleasing nobody.
      The most sensible solution would be for the church to separate from the state. The conservatives and evangelicals could then form their own churches and the rest could become social workers…

      • Hi Danny

        I’m looking at this as an outsider, but to me , it wouldn’t be the c of e, if it wasn’t all things to all men…I have no idea about the disestablishment of the church of England. I suppose it’d be officially stating that Britain wasn’t a Christian country?

        • Anton

          And about time too. When Muslims – or anybody else, come to think of it – look at Britain today and see the moral degeneracy associated with Friday and Saturday nights in big cities and the sexual promiscuity and the pornography on TV, together with the assertion that this is a Christian country because it has an Established church, what name does that give Jesus Christ among the heathen who need Him so badly?

          • Hi Anton

            I have no idea what ‘the heathen’ would think….I guess it wouldn’t be a positive?

        • dannybhoy

          “I suppose it’d be officially stating that Britain wasn’t a Christian country?”

          Not at all Hannah.
          The thing that makes this a Christian country is not the CofE, but the fact that so many expressions of Christianity have (sometimes reluctantly) flourished here. Many of the people who went out into the world including the British Empire weren’t members of the Church of England. They were usually from non conformist evangelical groups.

          The Church of England is a breakaway rebellious child of the Roman Catholic Church. In one sense it has the same relationship to the State or Establishment as the Catholic Church had to the Holy Roman Empire..

          http://www.gotquestions.org/Holy-Roman-Empire.html
          It was an organ of state, just as the CofE was the official religious organ of the English monarchy.
          In fact the CofE has a similar record of opposition to other Christian groups (sometimes rightly so) as has the Catholic church.

          • Hi Danny

            I was struck by the fact the only input with official c of e clergy on this thread wasn’t about theology with any Christian, but saying I was wrong about which committee appoints bishops….

      • Martin

        Danny

        One wonders if a broad church is akin to a broad way and if both lead to the same destination.

        • dannybhoy

          I experienced God’s grace and offer of salvation on the 22nd March 1970. It came to me through a curate in an evangelical church of England. Of course there were many such evangelical churches then, but the fact is that the CofE has been hijacked by the liberal and anti Bibllical wing of the church. It has succeeded in denying the authority of the Scriptures and reducing the Son of God to a pink and fluffy, all inclusive Director of Social Services.
          That is why the Cof E is dying.

          • Phil R

            Liberal = dying

            Orthodox = growth

            It is so obvious but they will not see it, because there is a larger and very evil intelligence at work in Western Anglicanism.

          • dannybhoy

            Just so.

          • Linus

            Liberal = can distinguish between fact and fiction.

            Orthodox = thinks fairy stories are real.

            Of course the liberal Church is dying. That’s the whole point!

            And of course the orthodox Church is growing. In troubled times the ignorant take refuge in the fairy stories and myths they learned at nanny’s knee.

          • Phil R

            I didn’t realise that the liberals were so much clever…..

            So I will keep my “fairy stories” Linus and you hang on tight of yours.

            Except in 100 years everyone will laugh at what you believe now. But the Christianity message will remain unchanged.

          • CliveM

            Dannybhoy

            Hope you are well.

            A question, it was my understanding that never mind what was being reflected in the Priesthood, it was the Evangelical wing of the CofE that was growing and as far as numbers are concerned the ‘Liberal’ wing that was in drastic decline.

            Surely if that is the case somewhere down the line the Priesthood will almost have to reflect this and the CofE isn’t beyond redemption?

          • dannybhoy

            Clive,
            I can only speak for the part of the CofE I am involved with as the diocesan and deanery representative.
            I can tell you our diocesan synods major on financial concerns, that those clergy and lay people who are evangelical in any way receive lukewarm or token support, and the reason for this is that the overriding concern is to keep people together.
            That some of the clergy are socially progressive, do not believe in the Bible as the word of God. Their emphasis is (like the leadership) to do good works, and to engage with the community in non controversial ways.
            I certainly accept that people are at all different places in their spiritual walk. Some really believe, some part, some see church as a club, some a business.
            That’s fine as long as the overarching leadership believes in the uniqueness of Christianity and the need for salvation.
            I think the current emphasis is not on salvation or discipleship, but on social inequality, poverty and political correctness.
            I was at a meeting recently where a clergyman said he believed the Methodist church would break up in the next ten years, and the CofE wouldn’t be far behind it..
            He might be wrong of course.

          • CliveM

            Well I hope he is. I think both traditions have something valuable to offer.

            In the 18th Century the CofE was in a much worse state morally and theologically, but Godly men rescued it. I hope the same happens today.

          • dannybhoy

            Hear Hear Clive!
            That’s why we remain in our local parish church, because we believe that God can work through any denomination if there is enough willingness to seek His face in prayer..

          • CliveM

            With God their is always hope.

  • len

    Presenting Christianity is not about trying to gain the acceptance of those within this world system.In fact being accepted by this world system is possibly the worst thing that can happen to anyone attempting to present Christianity to this present(corrupt ) world system.
    So Christians must be salt and light to this dying world(and this means being attacked by those who prefer to keep their deeds in the darkness)
    There were many who died on the’ Titanic’ because they did not believe it could (or would )sink but preferred to stay on board in their (apparent) comfort zones,, this seems somewhat like those who hear the Gospel but do not wish to disturb their comfortable lifestyles.
    Christians will continue to try to persuade those with ears to hear that this world ship is on a collision course with the God of the bible despite all the denials being given by those who wish to deny the reality of the situation (and try to convince others that there is no danger in their situation)

  • “The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a pope: he has no pre-Reformation buttons to press or levers to pull by which he may make the Church in his image (thankfully).!

    Come now, Archbishop, that is unfair. A Pope should never strive to make the Church in his own image. Those that attempt this, and granted there have been some and there may be others, may succeed for a short time. However, through the protection of the Holy Spirit, Truth always reasserts itself.

    The ‘buttons’ and ‘levers’ to which you refer are millennia old, dating from the first Jerusalem Council. They have steered the barque safely down the generations and will continue doing so. The Papacy is there to lead the Magisterium, in unity with all the Church’s people, to faithfully develop and transmit unchanging Truth and to communicate this in ways suited to particular times. Individual Popes they come and they go, good, bad and indifferent; the Church, she marches on.

    • Anton

      But the Eastern Orthodox say the same while differing from you about various things (and they too have the apostolic succession). Who’s a poor proddy to believe?

      • Anton, a least you acknowledge you are “a poor proddy”. This is a good starting point.

        • Anton

          Blessed are the poor in spirit…

          • In your case, spiritual poverty is not quite what Happy Jack was referring to.

          • Anton

            I don’t doubt what you meant. But why should I heed you rather than the Eastern Orthodox?

          • Hmmm …. a good place to start would be by developing an understanding of both. And before you ask, no, Jack is not going to outline this for you. If you’re really interested, you’ll follow the promptings of the Spirit.

          • Anton

            That’s why I’m a protestant!

          • All “protestant” signifies is protestation. It hardly represents a coherent or consistent set of beliefs.

          • Anton

            The Bible is incoherent and inconsistent?

            We protest our faith: that is the origin of our name.

          • dannybhoy

            Correction Anton,
            We protest against a monolithic and autocratic church interpreting our faith for us.

          • Anton

            Yes Danny, I too prefer to do my thinking for myself.

          • That’s why there are so many divisions in Protestantism.

          • Anton

            No Jack, there are so many divisions in protestantism because God is reminding us of the pointlessness of all church hierarchy. It follows from Acts and the letters in the New Testament (as I’ll show if necessary) that the apostolic church comprised a congregation in each place, each congregation run by an internal council of presbyteroi/episkopoi (same people – one word denotes seniority and the other denotes function). The founder of a congregation had authority over it during his lifetime but after he had passed on they were the church in that place, fully equipped with God’s promises and Holy Spirit if they kept faith; they answered to God directly and there was no human hierarchy above them.

            NB The words presbyteros and episkopos have changed in meaning during church history (by what authority?) but I am using them as the New Testament does.

            Had the church kept faith with its originally ordained structure then schism – which means schism into rival hierarchies – simply could not have happened. There was only the church at place B, the church at C, and so on. How different would church history have been?

          • Hmmm … but aren’t the various divisions based on differences in belief and theology, not structure? How can Truth be fragmented? There would be no Church history if everyone was left to decide what they believed.

          • Anton

            Those divisions are based on a failure of love and a failure to keep honestly held differences of interpretation in proper perspective of the greater unity in Christ. Nearly all of these fallings-out were originally hung on the convenient pegs of doctrinal differences. From the protestant point of view Rome has not preserved unity (as Catholics like to tell us) because of the earlier RC/Orthodox split in 1054. Splits within protestantism are no less shameful; I take all splits to be wretched consequences of the departure from the original decentralised church structure – a structure unambiguously inferrable from Acts and the New Testament letters.

            What follows is speculation, but I suggest that persecution will someday restore this structure, for a hierarchy that is visible to “the world” (in the wicked meaning in St John’s Last Supper) cannot survive harsh persecution. If the Roman, various national Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, and all too many other often careerist hierarchies are lopped off then once again there would only be Christians in every place. Christ wants His bride cleansed. As for doctrinal purity, the Bible is common to all denominations but hasn’t prevented differences; such differences would thenceforth be found at local level where it is easier to have it out in fellowship.

          • Anton, you are peaching doctrinal anarchy and not Christian unity.

          • Anton

            I’m sorry you say that. There is a clear church structure described in the New Testament which is not hierarchical and I question by what authority the scriptural structure ordained by God has been departed from.

            With all respect, there is doctrinal anarchy today. Each denomination maintains that it is the one true church. Protestants are merely spectators at the RC-Orthodox ya-boo of this sort, and we are no better with our own denominations.

          • A few questions, Anton.
            First, where does it say in the Bible that the Bible is the only source and rule of faith?

            Second, how do you know what books belong in the bible?

            Third, prove to Jack that you have the authority to interpret the bible and that your interpretations is accurate?

          • Anton

            Jack,

            In reverse order,

            In response to your third question, I have no more or less “authority” to interpret the Bible than you (or the Pope). If you are thinking in terms of authority rather than grace then you already have the wrong mindset. If you don’t want to contend with me over the scriptures then of course you are free not to.

            In response to your second question, your denomination and I agree about what constitutes the New Testament, so I see no point in opening a separate discussion about how we might know that part of the canon. We have a mutually agreed start point so let us proceed from there.

            In response to your first question, I am not making any such assumption for present purposes. I am pointing out that the scriptures we agree are of God, and authoritative, describe a particular church structure, and asking by what authority the church has deviated from it?

            If you would like a brief summary of what church structure is described in the New Testament, do let me know.

          • So let’s examine your answers.

            “Third, prove to Jack that you have the authority to interpret the Bible and that your interpretation is accurate?”

            “In response to your third question, I have no more or less “authority” to interpret the Bible than you (or the Pope). If you are thinking in terms of authority rather than grace then you already have the wrong mindset. If you don’t want to contend with me over the scriptures then of course you are free not to.”

            You acknowledge that neither you nor Jack has authority to interpret scripture. Having down so, you then say Jack has the wrong ‘mind-set’ because he may not share your interpretation over the workings of grace. On what do you base this assertion? Your interpretation of scripture?

            As for contending with you over scripture, without some ‘authority’ to resolve differences how much progress would we make? What process do we adopt in a group? Majority votes? And if a minority disagree, do they form another church? And, if we disagreed over the meaning of ancient languages and particular words, or the cultural meaning of allegories, who would have the knowledge to clarify these matters?

            “Second, how do you know what books belong in the Bible?”

            “In response to your second question, your denomination and I agree about what constitutes the New Testament, so I see no point in opening a separate discussion about how we might know that part of the canon. We have a mutually agreed start point so let us proceed from there.”

            And the Old Testament? And why should we be bound by the decisions of our ancestors? After all they composed the bible on the basis of an authoritative, hierarchical church structure over a period of more than 3 hundred years. Do we accept the Creeds of the early church? These were based on authoritative decisions of the early church. How can this all be accepted as a “mutually agreed start point” if we want to proceed in a manner that contradicts it?

            “First, where does it say in the Bible that the Bible is the only source and rule of faith?”

            “In response to your first question, I am not making any such assumption for present purposes. I am pointing out that the scriptures we agree are of God, and authoritative, describe a particular church structure, and asking by what authority the church has deviated from it?”
            But why should we be bound by scripture alone? Where does it say that in the bible you are proposing we use as our sole source of authority – even if we should agree what it actually means?

            Jack would actually argue that scripture itself demonstrates that it does not contain all the answers about structures and organisation and placed responsibility with a group to lead and develop its mission and uncover its deep mysteries.

          • Anton

            Jack, I’ll gladly do the sola scriptura debate with you here another time but right now I’m not going to be diverted. Nor am I interested in the principles of how decisions are reached in churches; I’m discussing church structure and polity with you, not with hypothetical others. And my authority (or not) to expound scripture is irrelevant. Your church system can no longer shut me up by force, and if you think I am without authority to say what I do then you don’t have to reply.

            The Greek words presbyteros and episkopos respectively denote maturity and task of oversight within a congregation, and refer to the same people as at Acts 20:17 & 20:28, where Paul sent for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus and then addressed them collectively as episkopoi; there were several in a congregation according to the plurals in James 5:14 and Acts 14:23 & 20:17. Today, though, one episkopos (‘bishop’) oversees many congregations in many church systems.

            By what authority were changes made to the apostolic structure described in the church’s own scriptures, which record its earliest history and deepest traditions?

          • “Jack, I’ll gladly do the sola scriptura debate with you here another time but right now I’m not going to be diverted. Nor am I interested in the principles of how decisions are reached in churches; I’m discussing church structure and polity with you, not with hypothetical others.”

            But these are foundational to the discussion. You’re assuming all is contained in scripture – which is unscriptural – and that the Apostles didn’t teach “tradition”.

            “And my authority (or not) to expound scripture is irrelevant.”

            Not if you’re trying to convince Jack its not. Why should Jack listen to you unless you can authenticate your authority to teach?

            “Your church system can no longer shut me up by force, and if you think I am without authority to say what I do then you don’t have to reply.”

            Who’s trying to shut you up?

            “By what authority were changes made to the apostolic structure described in the church’s own scriptures, which record its earliest history and deepest traditions?”

            So now you do want to discuss God given authority in the Church? Again you assume scripture is the sole source available for recording its history and traditions – which is unscriptural. You’ve also begged the question too by simply asserting that your ‘authoritative’ interpretation, given above, is an accurate reading.

          • Anton

            Jack, I’m happy to keep asking you the question you aren’t answering and let His Grace’s readers decide for themselves whether you are avoiding it because Catholics have no adequate answer. So far I have asked it above, and you have failed to answer it, *** times. As follows:

            The Greek words presbyteros and episkopos respectively denote maturity and task of oversight within a congregation, and refer to the same people as at Acts 20:17 & 20:28, where Paul sent for the presbyteroi of the congregation at Ephesus and then addressed them collectively as episkopoi; there were several in a congregation according to the plurals in James 5:14 and Acts 14:23 & 20:17. Today, though, one episkopos (‘bishop’) oversees many congregations in many church systems. By what authority were changes made to the apostolic structure described in the church’s own scriptures, which record its earliest history and deepest traditions?

            Of course if you think my exegesis is wrong then you may wish to explain why. Or not. It’s entirely up to you, just as it is up to readers to decide whether you are unable to.

          • Happy Jack most certainly disagrees with your interpretation is correct. That’s why he is focussing on authority to teach and grow the Church and your biblical support for this narrow understanding. You claim scripture alone as authority. In itself, this is unscriptural.

            It is you who are refusing to answer these questions as a way of establishing a common point from which to proceed.

            “Of course if you think my exegesis is wrong then you may wish to explain why.”

            Most of the epistles were written to local churches that were experiencing moral and/or doctrinal problems and establishing structures. Letters went to these local churches in order to rectify these problems. There was no attempt on the part of the writers to impart a vast body of basic doctrinal instruction or to describe detailed structures.

            “Or not. It’s entirely up to you, just as it is up to readers to decide whether you are unable to.”

            Jack will answer but without agreement on foundational issues there will be no agreement.

            One of the undeniable aspects of unity and oneness in the bible is the constant warning against and prohibition of divisions, schism, and sectarianism, either by command, or by counter-example (Matthew 12:25, 16:18, John 10:16, 17:20-23, Acts 4:32, Romans 13:13, 16:17, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 3:3-4, 10:17, 11:18-19, 12:12-27, 14:33, 2 Corinthians 12:20, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 4:3-6, Philippians 1:27, 2:2-3, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Titus 3:9-10, James 3:16, 2 Peter 2:1). Jesus makes unity a means by which the world might believe that the Father sent the Son (John 17:21,23), and prays that it will be as profound as the unity of the Trinity itself (John 17:21-22). St. Paul makes stirring up division a grounds for virtual exclusion from the Christian community (Romans 16:17), and says that divisions (in effect) divide Christ (1 Corinthians 1:13).
            How was unity to be achieved?

            The New Testament refers to three types of permanent offices in the Church (Apostles and Prophets were to cease): bishops (episkopos), elders (presbyteros, from which are derived Presbyterian and priest), and deacons (diakonos). Bishops are mentioned in Acts 1:20, 20:28, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:7, and 1 Peter 2:25. Presbyteros (usually elder) appears in passages such as Acts 15:2-6, 21:18, Hebrews 11:2, 1 Peter 5:1, and 1 Timothy 5:17. You view these leaders as analogous to current-day pastors, while Jack’s Church regard them as priests. Deacons (often, minister in English translations) are mentioned in the same fashion as Christian elders with similar frequency (for example, 1 Corinthians 3:5, Philippians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).

            As is often the case among the earliest Christians, there is some fluidity and overlapping of these three vocations (for example, compare Acts 20:17 with 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1-7 with Titus 1:5-9). This doesn’t prove that three offices of ministry did not exist. For instance, St. Paul often referred to himself as a deacon or minister (1 Corinthians 3:5, 4:1, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 6:4, 11:23, Ephesians 3:7, Colossians1:23-25), yet no one would assert that he was merely a deacon, and nothing else. Likewise, St. Peter calls himself a fellow elder (1 Peter 5:1), whereas Jesus calls him the rock upon which He would build His Church, and gave him alone “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19). These examples are usually indicative of a healthy humility, according to Christ’s injunctions of servanthood (Matthew 23:11-12, Mark 10:43-44).

            Clear distinctions of office are apparent. The hierarchical nature of Church government in the New Testament emerges. Bishops are always referred to in the singular, while elders are usually mentioned plurally. What is the nature and functions of bishops and elders? Catholics contend that the elders/presbyters in Scripture carry out all the functions of the Catholic priesthood and bishops (episkopos) possess all the powers, duties, and jurisdiction of priests, with important additional responsibilities. (Jack can list these and cite biblical authority if you wish).

            The Council of Jerusalem, in Acts 15:1-29, bears witness to a hierarchical, episcopal structure of government in the early Church. St. Peter, the chief elder of the entire Church (1 Peter 5:1; cf. John 21:15-17), presided and issued the authoritative pronouncement (15:7-11). Then James, bishop of Jerusalem, gives a concurring (Acts 15:14), concluding statement (15:13-29). That James was the sole, “monarchical” bishop of Jerusalem is fairly apparent from Scripture (Acts 12:17, 15:13,19, 21:18, Galatians 1:19, 2:12).

            St. Paul teaches us (Ephesians 2:20) that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles, whom Christ Himself chose (John 6:70, Acts 1:2,13; cf. Matthew 16:18). In Mark 6:30 the twelve original disciples of Jesus are called apostles, and Matthew 10:1-5 and Revelation 21:14 speak of the twelve apostles. After Judas defected, the remaining eleven Apostles appointed his successor, Matthias (Acts 1:20-26). Since Judas is called a bishop (episkopos) in this passage (1:20), then by logical extension all the Apostles can be considered bishops.

            If the Apostles are bishops, and one of them was replaced by another, after the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, then we have an explicit example of apostolic succession in the Bible, taking place before 35 A.D. In like fashion, St. Paul appears to be passing on his office to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-6), shortly before his death, around 65 A.D. This succession shows an authoritative equivalency between Apostles and bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles. As a corollary, we are also informed in Scripture that the Church itself is perpetual, infallible, and indefectible (Matthew 16:18, John 14:26, 16:18). Why should the early Church be set up in one form and the later Church in another?

            All of this biblical data is harmonious with the ecclesiological views of the Catholic Church. There has been some development over the centuries, but in all essentials, the biblical Church and clergy and the Catholic Church and clergy are one and the same.

          • Anton

            Thank you for your reply. Responding to a question by asking about the authority of the questioner is a form of ad hominem argument. All that matters, of course, is the content of the question.

            I am aware and accept that the New Testament letters do not systematically expound a structure for the church. Nevertheless a structure can be inferred, and that is what I did above.

            “Bishops are always referred to in the singular”

            Did you miss my reference to Acts 20:28 where Paul speaks to the episkopoi (plural) at Ephesus?

            Diakonos (‘deacon’) is simply a Greek word for servant, and context must be taken into account. That is why a woman is spoken of at one point as a diakonos of a congregation although Paul makes clear elsewhere that they should be male. The former sense is informal; the latter is a church position.

            My plurality of male episkopoi/presbyteroi governing a congregation, autonomously under God after the congregation’s founder had passed on, are not pastors. Today’s lone pastor system of congregational leadership in many free churches is unbiblical. One-man leadership with no oversight is asking for trouble. So is hierarchy: far from providing oversight which corrects abuses, the Roman Catholic church’s hierarchy actually covered up for the sins of its parish priests in the child abuse scandals. I gladly acknowledge that the proportion of paedophile priests is tiny, but the proportion of bishops who covered it up in their dioceses is disgracefully high. No system is perfect, but leadership by an internal council of overseers/elders (episkopoi/presbyteroi) is God’s chosen way and I can certainly see why.

            The early church took up from the Jews the synagogue system, not the Temple system; that is why the original church structure is delocalised. Central direction of the church comes from heaven (Ephesians 1:22). In Jesus’ forthright letters to seven congregations in Asia Minor (Rev 2&3), Jesus takes personal responsibility for congregational oversight. He does not criticise their mutual independence or order a diocesan merger. A hierarchy attracts careerists, and is a target through which Satan can ravage many congregations at once by nobbling the topmost. That is a reasonable summary of Catholic church history in the Dark Ages, in fact.

            You bring in the issue of priests, but according to St Peter himself every believer is a priest (hiereus) – that’s in 1 Pe 2:9. John says the same (Rev 1:6).

          • “Thank you for your reply. Responding to a question by asking about the authority of the questioner is a form of ad hominem argument.”

            Er … no it isn’t. If someone is intent on preaching to Jack some claimed “truth” he is entitled to ask about legitimacy.

            Citing 1 Peter 2:5,9 in order to ‘prove’ that all Christians are priests doesn’t exclude a speciallyordained, sacramental priesthood, since St. Peter was reflecting the language of Exodus 19:6, where the Jews were described in this fashion. Since the Jews had a separate Levitical priesthood, by analogy 1 Peter 2:9 cannot logically exclude a New Testament ordained priesthood. These texts are concerned with priestly holiness, as opposed to priestly function. The universal sense, for instance, never refers to the Eucharist or sacraments. Every Christian is a priest in terms of offering the sacrifices of prayer (Hebrews 13:15), almsgiving (Hebrews 13:16), and faith in Jesus (Philippians 2:17).

            Catholics contend, based on scripture, that the elders/presbyters in Scripture carry out all the functions of a set apart, special priesthood:

            1) Sent and Commissioned by Jesus (being called): Mark 6:7, John 15:5, 20:21, Romans 10:15, 2 Corinthians 5:20.

            2) Representatives of Jesus: Luke 10:16, John 13:20.

            3) Authority to “Bind” and “Loose” (Penance and Absolution): Matthew 18:18 (compare Matthew 16:19.)

            4) Power to Forgive Sins in Jesus’ Name (Luke 24:47, John 20:21-23, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, James 5:15.)

            5) Authority to Administer Penance (Acts 5:2-11, 1 Corinthians 5:3-13, 2 Corinthians 5:18, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Titus 3:10.)

            6) Power to Conduct the Eucharist (Luke 22:19, Acts 2:42 (compare Luke 24:35, Acts 2:46, 20:7, 1 Corinthians 10:16.)

            7) Dispense Sacraments (1 Corinthians 4:1, James 5:13-15.)

            8) Perform Baptisms (Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38,41.)

            9) Ordained (Acts 14:23, 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:23.)

            10) Pastors (Shepherds) (Acts 20:17,28, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1-4.)

            11) Preach and Teach: 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 5:17.

            12) Evangelize (Matthew 16:15, 28:19-20, Mark 3:14, Luke 9:2,6, 24:47, Acts 1:8.)

            13) Heal (Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1-2,6.)

            14) Cast Out Demons (Matthew 10:1, Mark 3:15, Luke 9:1.)

            15) Hear Confessions (Acts 19:18 (compare Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5, James 5:16, 1 John 1:8-9; presupposed in John 20:23).

            16) Celibacy for Those Called to it (Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9,20,25-38 (especially 7:35).

            17) Enjoy Christ’s Perpetual Presence and Assistance in a Special Way (Matthew 28:20.)

            “Today’s lone pastor system of congregational leadership in many free churches is unbiblical. One-man leadership with no oversight is asking for trouble.”

            According to your interpretation and reading – which is flimsy, as demonstrated by Jack’s references.

            “So is hierarchy: far from providing oversight which corrects abuses, the Roman Catholic church’s hierarchy actually covered up for the sins of its parish priests in the child abuse scandals. I gladly acknowledge that the proportion of paedophile priests is tiny, but the proportion of bishops who covered it up in their dioceses is disgracefully high. No system is perfect, but leadership by an internal council of overseers/elders (episkopoi/presbyteroi) is God’s chosen way and I can certainly see why.”

            That is a blatant and opportunistic non sequitur … and is not supported by scripture.

            The functions and duties of Bishops, according top scripture, are:

            1) Jurisdiction over Priests and Local Churches, and the Power to Ordain Priests (Acts 14:22, 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6, Titus 1:5.)

            2) Special Responsibility to Defend the Faith (Acts 20:28-31, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Titus 1:9-10, 2 Peter 3:15-16.)

            3) Power to Rebuke False Doctrine and Excommunicate (Acts 8:14-24, 1 Corinthians 16:22, 1 Timothy 5:20, 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:10-11.)

            4) Power to Bestow Confirmation (the Receiving of the Indwelling Holy Spirit) (Acts 8:14-17, 19:5-6.)

            5) Management of Church Finances (1 Timothy 3:3-4, 1 Peter 5:2.)

            “In Jesus’ forthright letters to seven congregations in Asia Minor (Rev 2&3), Jesus takes personal responsibility for congregational oversight. He does not criticise their mutual independence or order a diocesan merger.”

            That’s your interpretation of Revelation.

            “A hierarchy attracts careerists, and is a target through which Satan can ravage many congregations at once by nobbling the topmost. That is a reasonable summary of Catholic church history in the Dark Ages, in fact.”

            Again, a blatant and opportunistic non sequitur. Christ implicitly warned the Church it would be attacked. And, in fact, to say your assertion is a reasonable summary of Church history in the ‘Dark Ages’ is a ridiculous claim.

          • Anton

            You are entitled to your opinion, except where it contradicts scripture.

            The Catholic ceremony of ordination ordains the ordinand (sorry!) as a priest. the unambiguous implication is that he was not regarded as one before – contrary to those scriptures I cited by Peter and John. Subcategories of priest cannot be cited to circumvent this claim,

          • “You are entitled to your opinion, except where it contradicts scripture.”

            But it is not Jack’s opinion and it all rests on scripture. And this just takes us right back to Jack’s opening three questions which you say were ad hominem.

            First, where does it say in the Bible that the Bible is the only source and rule of faith?

            Second, how do you know what books belong in the Bible?

            Third, prove to Jack that you have the authority to interpret the Bible and that your interpretation is accurate?

          • Anton

            Jack, you have simply repeated your questions so I am repeating my answers (in slightly different words), as follows.

            In response to your third question, as I am a protestant you obviously consider that I have no authority to discuss the Bible. I guess that you nevertheless continue to dispute with me because you know that others are reading this exchange and you wish them to see your responses to my critique. But that is your business; it is entirely for you to decide whether or not you respond to my comments. Please feel no moral pressure from me to do so.

            In response to your second question, your denomination and I are in agreement about what writings constitute the New Testament, so I see no point in opening a separate discussion about how we reach that mutually agreed conclusion. We have an agreed start point, so let us proceed from there. You mentioned the Old Testament and you will surely be aware that we disagree about the canonical status of the ‘Apocrypha’. I’ll gladly discuss that issue with you after we have finished with church structure (to which the Apocrypha are not relevant). If you would like to do that, please remind me later.

            In response to your first question, I am not making any such assumption at this point. I am explaining that the New Testament, which we agree is of God, and therefore authoritative, describes en passant a particular church structure – and I am asking by what authority the church has deviated from it? You are probing me, with your question, on the sola scriptura issue and I shall willingly discuss it, but not before we have finished with church structure and hierarchy. Do ask me this interesting question again later.

          • ” I am a protestant you obviously consider that I have no authority to discuss the Bible.”

            Discuss away. However, it’s your authority to state your understanding trumps Jack’s or anyone else’s that is in question.

            “… your denomination and I are in agreement about what writings constitute the New Testament, so I see no point in opening a separate discussion about how we reach that mutually agreed conclusion.”

            Jack understands why you want to dodge this one, he does. The very Apostolic, clerical structure you claim is unbiblical decided the Canon of the Old and New Testament. It also authoritatively determined the basic tenets of the Christin faith. If that structure is unbiblical, then logically it had no right to do this.

            “I am explaining that the New Testament, which we agree is of God, and therefore authoritative,” (but only if we accept the Apostolic structure that determined it so and interpreted it) “describes en passant a particular church structure – and I am asking by what authority the church has deviated from it?”

            Jack has already provided ample scriptural evidence that the structure of Pope, Bishop and Priest is evidenced in scripture – as authoritatively interpreted by the very body of Bishops that, in continuity, declared the Canon of scripture and also declared the Apostles Creed.

          • Anton

            OK, it’s time to discuss the canon… ultimately by the Holy Spirit, working on earth by acclamation by the body of the faithful. You perhaps think that the canon was declared at a General Council, but I believe that such declarations were simply rubber-stamping, for the sake of a somewhat legalistic and unscriptural church hierarchy (which is where this started), accustomed use.

          • “OK, it’s time to discuss the canon… ultimately by the Holy Spirit, working on earth by acclamation by the body of the faithful. You perhaps think that the canon was declared at a General Council, but I believe that such declarations were simply rubber-stamping, for the sake of a somewhat legalistic and unscriptural church hierarchy (which is where this started), accustomed use.”
            And that gives the ‘Church of Anton’ free licence to cherry-pick whatever he choses is ‘scriptural’ from 2000 years of Church teaching and theological development. Whatever the ‘Holy Spirit’ informs you and your fellows is authoritative is, by definition, authoritative because, well, the ‘Holy Spirit’ tells you. If someone disagrees, then they leave and form their own church …. and so it goes on. It is also fundamentally unscriptural.
            Jack has provided ample scriptural evidence above for an Apostolic hierarchy of Bishops and Priests with authority from Christ Himself. Answer those passages.

          • Anton

            Apostolic succession is a great excuse to say that you are the one true church no matter how apostate you become. Believers’ succession is quite enough for me, ie I was converted by someone who was converted by someone who was converted by… by someone who witnessed Christ in the Holy Land 2000 years ago. Apostolic succession is not in the Bible (would you like to do the sola scriptura debate now?) and episkopos has changed in meaning from the New Testament to the present in some denominations including Roman Catholic. I showed from scripture above that there are multiple episkopoi in a single congregation whereas today there are multipple congregations under a single episkopos. By what authority, presumably greater than that of the author of scripture, was the change made during church history?

          • Jack has given you ample references to demonstrate the hierarchy of the Church is supported by scripture. He has also given ample references to demonstrate the authority of Apostles and their successors, Bishops, to speak as the Vicars of Christ.
            Until you answer those passages satisfactorily, Jack can only conclude what you are advocating is unbiblical and tantamount to spiritual anarchy permitting individuals to believe what they chose.

          • Anton

            You didn’t show where my exegesis was wrong; you just quoted a multitude of complementary other verses. Stet, therefore.

            There is already spiritual anarchy, ie many denominations. Each claims to be the one true church and shouting louder, as Rome does, doesn’t impress me as a mode of argumentation.

          • You have answered none of the texts provided – merely overlooked them as inconvenient. They clearly show your exegesis to be mistaken.

          • The Catholic Church rests all of its doctrines and teachings on Scripture and Apostolic Tradition.

          • Anton

            By the way, about interpretation and opinion, it doesn’t always take a committee of 50 trained canon lawyers to understand the scriptures. Were I to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, for example, it would be pretty obvious to the merest layman of any denomination.

          • dannybhoy

            The New Testament contains everything necessary to salvation, redemption and sanctification. It describes the church as the Bride of Christ, and detailed descriptions of what constitutes a church, the various gifts and ministries necessary to accomplishing its ministry, the qualities needed for those in spiritual and practical ministries, and how to protect the flock from error. Nothing more is needed.

          • Yes, Jack agrees with that statement. It all points to “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

          • dannybhoy

            One Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church.
            This is of course from the Creed, drawn from the New Testament, but not stated therein.
            No one needs to argue or pontificate in what the Church is because it is clearly set out for us in great detail.
            Growing churches, backsliding churches, churches in error churches in legalism. They’re all there recorded for us.

            Interesting bit here from the previous ArchBishop…

            http://rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/1675/one-holy-catholic-and-apostolic-church

          • “One Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church.”

            Quite so.

            One universal Body, Danny, not separate, independent churches. All in communion with one another locally and held in communion worldwide by the Truth.

            “This is of course from the Creed, drawn from the New Testament, but not stated therein.”
            There are many core Christian beliefs drawn from the Old and the New Testament but not stated therein – our Christology; the Triune God; the nature of the Atonement; the process of justification and salvation. Who has the authority – and from where – to discern these and claim they are authentic?

            “No one needs to argue or pontificate in what the Church is because it is clearly set out for us in great detail.”

            Is it? And, as Jack keeps saying, by what authority do you claim to understand the particular structure of the emergent church in Jerusalem or any universal model it prefigures and teaches?

            And as Saint Paul wrote about the Body of Christ:

            “God has given us different positions in the church; apostles first, then prophets, and thirdly teachers; then come miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, works of mercy, the management of affairs, speaking with different tongues, and interpreting prophecy. Are all of us apostles, all prophets, all teachers? Have all miraculous powers, or gifts of healing? Can all speak with tongues, can all interpret?”

            And if we accept this, how does the One Body organise itself?

          • dannybhoy

            Well written Anton. I would think that most splits are in a sense inevitable, because the (true) Church is made up of saints in all states and progressions of grace and sanctification.
            In support of your statement it is interesting to note that in all the books and letters of the New Testament not one of those Jewish believers supported the idea of an elevated leadership.
            On the contrary the emphasis is on serving and preferring one another in love. There is no mention of palaces or fine robes or gold rings, funny hats and costumes….

          • Anton

            If you visit St Peter’s in Rome
            You’ll admire Michelangelo’s dome
            It’s spectacular, but
            In a fisherman’s hut
            I think Peter would feel more at home.

            – Lesslie Newbigin

          • dannybhoy

            Another distinguishing mark of those first Jewish apostles; they were uneducated, simple working men. Probably very conservative in their outlooks, and reluctant to embrace unconventional ideas.
            It wasn’t until Rabbi Saul’s conversion that a more structured theology began to emerge..

          • “The Bible is incoherent and inconsistent?”

            Some certainly make it so, yes. Look at all the weird interpretations of it. For example, look at your abject failure to include procreation as the purpose of conjugal relationships. From your account, this is secondary to intimacy. This, despite it being recorded in the bible as God’s first positive command to man.

          • dannybhoy

            If making love to your wife was not a pleasurable and fulfilling experience I doubt the human race would have made it thus far Jack.
            Sex is the means by which we procreate. It is such a pleasurable experience that we tend to continue practicing it whether or no children result from it.
            Most women want to give birth because that is how they are. designed. Unselfish men are happy to do their best to fulfil that longing…

          • That you for letting me know these things, Danny. Jack was unaware of this.

            Of course sex is pleasurable. As you say, that is not its purpose, though. It can also establish intimacy and lasting bonds. It’s the same with eating. We have appetites and tastes to facilitate nourishment. Hunger is a drive. Eating is social and enjoyable. Like hunger and eating, the sex drive and conjugal act have a purpose.

          • William Lewis

            Parents need all the intimacy and long lasting bonding they can get, wouldn’t you say Jack?

          • Absolutely.

          • William Lewis

            Excellent. And is that not purpose enough for having sex?

          • No …. not if its natural purpose is frustrated by artificial methods.

          • dannybhoy

            “Thank you for letting me know these things, Danny. Jack was unaware of this.”

            Well, I am aware of the Catholic enthusiasm for practicing ‘the rhythm method’ until they get it right, whilst somehow remaining ignorant of the consequences of failure.
            Of course the rhythm method could be a Papal strategy for ensuring plenty of baby Catholics…
            I wouldn’t know.

          • For the vast majority of people, correctly practiced, natural family planning is as reliable, more so, than artificial methods. Most contraceptive pills are abortifacients and barrier methods are prone to failure.

          • dannybhoy

            “Most contraceptive pills are abortifacients and barrier methods are prone to failure.”

            All medication has side ss-s-s- ide eff-eff-effectsJJack

            (nervous tic joins stutter)

            but how does the (celibate) clergy ensure that the correct “tempistica e il ritiro” is observed before the “ottimo crescendo?”

          • Anton

            So you would counsel widows above childbearing age not to marry for love?

          • Phil R

            The Bible does not teach that we should marry for love.

          • Anton

            My comment didn’t require that it did.

          • Selfless love is surely the very centre of the Gospel message? It’s what marriage and parenthood rests on.

          • Phil R

            So in your world Jack.

            What to be done is if you decide that you lust/love for another is now more than for your spouse?

            Do you swap?

            If you argue with the kids do you send them out to die in the snow?

            Is that what the Bible teaches?

          • Is that how you understand the concept of ‘agape’, Phil?

          • Phil R

            Jack being a Christian does not necessarily make me a better parent or husband than one who does not believe.

          • Of course not. All of us have a God given conscience and although its damaged, we know right from wrong. The difference is that a relationship with Christ, facilitates us living how we should.

          • Of course not. Same with other infertile couples.

    • len

      The papacy is there to lead all and sundry ‘up the garden path’.

      • len

        How can anyone consider the Papacy to be anything but a bunch of thieves murderers and charlatans ?.The lives of the Popes makes Blackbeard and his crew look like a bunch of very nice gentlemen….

        • Anton

          And if you think the Renaissance Popes were corrupt, have a look at the later Dark Ages, Charlemagne to the Gregorian reforms…

          • And this all proves what?

          • Anton

            I was not aiming to prove anything with that particular comment. Why didn’t you like it?

          • It just seemed intended to demonstrate the Papacy is inherently flawed because some Popes may or may not have ben sinful, wicked men. The legitimacy of the Apostolic Church, headed by the Pope, does not require them to be saints or the church itself to be perfect.

          • len

            Interesting to study the reign of the Popes in the light of Bible prophecy. The Papacy had apparently lost its political status after the
            Pope’s capture by Napoleons army in 1798, it was, for all intents and purposes, dead. It
            could only be resurrected if it regained its political status.
            In 1929, Prime Minister Benito Mussolini and Cardinal Pietro Gasparri signed an accord whereby
            the Pope had to pledge his own political party’s support to Mussolini
            in exchange for the return of his papal seat and power.
            So the Papacy was’ wounded’ then regained power and intends to consolidate that power through the EU and possibly links with Islam and other religions.

          • Len, can you set the historical context for the Lateran Treaty in 1929, outline its terms and show just what power the Vatican was seeking that was restored?

            Also, could you provide evidence for the assertion the Papacy “intends to consolidate that power through the EU and possibly links with Islam and other religions.”?

          • Anton

            Historical context for the Lateran Treaty was that Pius IX put the papacy into a 6-decade sulk after losing its worldly power over the city of Rome and the Papal States in 1870. (Who was it that said “My kingdom is not of this world”?) The authorities of the newly unified Italy chose not to wreck relations between predominantly Catholic countries and themselves by persecuting Pius, but the Pope was liable to arrest if he went outside the Vatican without renouncing his claim to be ruler of Rome. Pius declared himself a “prisoner in the Vatican”, although not many prison cells have personal staff and decorations by Michelangelo. The Lateran Treaty acknowledged the Vatican as the Pope’s worldly kingdom, permitted him to move freely outside it, and granted the papacy a large sum of money. In return the Roman Catholic church supported Mussolini’s fascist regime.

          • len

            The papacy have done all sorts of deals all throughout history to preserve their power and it comes as no surprise to me that the Papacy did deals with Fascist regimes.

            The Papacy,’ claims’ to be the representative of Christ. It
            demands the world’s obedience and also experienced a counterfeit death and resurrection. At the end of time, the power of the resurrected Papacy will be so great that no one would venture to make war against
            it. The deadly wound will be healed. We are living this Bible prophecy today this is the time of the ‘resurrected Papacy ‘the beast which will rise from the sea ‘ and all denominations are clamouring to make homage to it.
            I should not be surprised however as all this faithfully recorded in the Word of God.

          • Len, what you’re doing is reading prophecy dishonestly. You start from the premise that the Roman Catholic Church is the anti-Christ and search scripture to support this. Then you squeeze history selectively to demonstrate this.

            “We are living this Bible prophecy today this is the time of the ‘resurrected Papacy ‘the beast which will rise from the sea ‘ and all denominations are clamouring to make homage to it.”

            And what evidence do you have for this peculiar statement?

            The Catholic Church is beset with internal division over its doctrines on faith and morals. It is in decline in the West and facing potential schism as people clamour for the ‘right’ to believe they want and do what they want based on their private readings of scripture and following their own private consciences. It has lost moral credibility because of the sex abuse scandals. Its clergy is falling in numbers and growing older. The UN criticises most of its teachings as barriers to population control and poverty.

            How on earth do you arrive at a position that the secular and religious organisations are “clamouring make homage to it”?

            Most informed observers say it is facing the fourth great crisis of its history.

          • No, it was the rise of Communism – the greatest threat to world civilisation at the time – and the wish to preserve the Catholic faith in Italy. And why shouldn’t the Church support Mussolini in this situation – just as it supported Franco?

            The treaty recognised Vatican City as an independent state – some worldly Kingdom!

            How does this justify Len’s contention that this was a “return of his papal seat and power. So the Papacy was’ wounded’ then regained power and intends to consolidate that power through the EU and possibly links with Islam and other religions.”?

            That was the question raised. You think Rome wants to rule the world and is using Vatican City as its base?

          • Anton

            Why should it have changed from the mediaeval era?

            The Pope might have a tiny nation-state, but he has one and uses it to the hilt, acting as a Head of State when it suits him (eg claiming diplomatic immunity for himself and nuncios) and a head of a denomination when it suits him better.

          • “Why should it have changed from the mediaeval era?”

            Why should it have not? Ever heard of Vatican II ?

            You do know the papal tiara, worn by popes of the Roman Catholic Church from as early as the 8th century to the mid-20th, as a symbol of power, was abandoned by Pope Paul VI in 1963? His successor, Pope John Paul I, decided against a coronation, replacing it with a generic “Inauguration of the Supreme Pontificate”. And In a further break with tradition, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal coat of arms replaced the tiara with a mitre.

            Times and seasons, Anton.

          • Anton

            Why should it not? Because it is straitjacketed by its claim that it is inerrant, and what did Unam Sanctam say ex cathedra?

          • Straitjacketed? By Truth … Jack prays and know it will ever remain so.

            The Catholic Church rests on the scripturally demonstrable premise that Jesus Christ personally established one Church; placed His authority with her until His return and that the Church, guarded by the Holy Spirit, cannot err in matters of faith and morals, and serves as the means by which the graces won by Christ are communicated to believers.

            And it is not an ex-cathedra teaching. The earliest surviving statement is by Saint Cyprian of Carthage in the 3rd century. It was formally stated at Fourth Lateran Council in 1215: “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” Vatican II restated this positively thus: ” … all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body.”

          • Anton

            Unam Sanctam is not ex cathedra? Do enlighten me. And where is it scripturally demonstrable that the church cannot err in matters of faith and morals?

          • “Unam Sanctam is not ex cathedra? Do enlighten me.”

            Jack has already done so. It was formally stated at Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 which pre-dated the Papal Bull Unam sanctam of 1302.

            “And where is it scripturally demonstrable that the church cannot err in matters of faith and morals?”

            Back to scripture alone and the Divine authority of the teaching office of the Church?

            When Christ founded His Church upon Peter and the Apostles (Matt. 16:18 and 18:18), it was to be the means of salvation, the new covenant (Matt. 22:26; Mark 14:.22; Luke 22:l9; 1 Cor.11:25) “until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26) “in virtue of an everlasting covenant” (Hebr. 13:.20).

            Christ founded His Church and ensured it would not err.

            “And I tell thee this in my turn, that thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
            (Matt 16:18-29)

            “All authority in heaven and on earth, he said, has been given to me; you, therefore, must go out, making disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all the commandments which I have given you. And behold I am with you all through the days that are coming, until the consummation of the world.”
            (Matt. 18:18-20)

            “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised shall be saved.”
            (Mark.16:16)

            “He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me.”
            (Luke 10:16)

            “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
            (John 19:21)

            The Church is indefectible and cannot err in faith and morals. She cannot perish and will be here to the end of the world. Her teachings are immutable. As the Church is a divine institution, she is assured that divine assistance will be given her to fulfill her mission by her Head, Christ:

            “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever.”
            (John 24:16)

            “I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth. He will not utter a message of his own; he will utter the message that has been given to him; and he will make plain to you what is still to come.”
            (John 16:12-13)

          • dannybhoy

            “This attribute of the Church which Christ founded is called indefectibility.”
            I think I detect a defect.

          • In Christ’s words ? Surely not !

          • Anton

            Unam Sanctam is clearly ex cathedra, as it is a papal bull that concerns matters of faith. That the fourth Lateran Council had previously made a related ex cathedra statement is irrelevant to whether Unam Sanctam is also ex cathedra (meaning from the seat). Unam Sanctam asserts that “We declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Boniface was speaking here not only from his seat but from that part with which he sits upon it.

          • “Unam Sanctam is clearly ex cathedra, as it is a papal bull that concerns matters of faith.”

            If a Church Council formally declares a matter to be an article of faith, then any subsequent statements by a Pope are not ex cathedra doctrines. Boniface’s Bull appears to have extended the doctrine ‘extra Ecclesiam nulla salus’ by referencing the ‘Two Swords but there is a dispute about this and whether it was particular to circumstances or universal and how it should be applied in different contexts.

            “Pope Boniface was speaking here not only from his seat but from that part with which he sits upon it.”

            Oh, how very erudite.

          • Anton

            You want to play legalism? OK, who declared ex cathedra that Unam Sanctam is on the same subject as that pronouncement of 4th Lateran? Because it seems to me that “there is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved” is simply a definition of the church – the collective of the saved – whereas Boniface VIII was stating that a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for salvation is to be a Roman Catholic. Not identical.

          • Anton, where do you get this from?
            Canon 4 of the Lateran Council exhorted the Greeks to reunite with the Roman Church and accept its maxims that according to the Gospel there may be only one fold and only one shepherd. Canon 5 of the Lateran Council went on and declared Papal primacy which it stated had been recognized from all antiquity.

            Btw, it is still the Church’s position that the only sure and certain way to salvation is by being a faithful and full member of Christ’s Body, the Roman Catholic Church, with all this entails, including acceptance of the authority of the Magisterium and the Papacy.

          • Anton

            Well yes, I too can declare myself infallible whenever I feel like it, but that doesn’t make it so either.

          • Yes, the ‘Church of Anton’ clearly feels able to do so. However, infallibility covers Divine revelation, not historical fact.

          • Anton

            Anton simply has a little more humility than the Church of Rome; not that that is difficult.

          • Anton has no humility at all. He asserts he is capable of understanding scripture and that he is guided by the Holy Spirit in this. What he doesn’t accept he rejects.

          • Anton

            “Anton has no humility at all. He asserts he is capable of understanding scripture and that he is guided by the Holy Spirit in this.”

            I do assert that, yes. Do you believe that you, as a Christian, are not capable of understanding scripture and that you are not guided by the Holy Spirit?

            What else I assert is that my understanding is fallible, so that I must be ready to listen genuinely to other believers, and where we differ keep that difference within the body of Christ. Only the vain declare themselves infallible.

          • Happy Jack understands neither Greek nor Hebrew. He is capable of reading Scripture but what everyone brings to it colours our understanding. This is evidenced by the vast differences between individuals and churches. The Holy Spirit does not mislead or contradict which demonstrates man needs a teaching authority. The Church is infallible because, as promised by Christ, it is guided by the Holy Spirit.

          • Anton

            “The Church is infallible because, as promised by Christ, it is guided by the Holy Spirit.”

            Would you care to open out that “because”? All believers are guided by the Holy Spirit but are fallible; so are groupings of believers aka the church. As church history shows, of just about every denomination including yours.

          • When Christ founded His Church upon Peter and the Apostles (Matt. 16:18 and 18:18), it was to be the means of salvation, the new covenant (Matt. 22:26; Mark 14:.22; Luke 22:l9; 1 Cor.11:25) “until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26) “in virtue of an everlasting covenant” (Hebr. 13:.20).

            Christ founded His Church and ensured it would not err.

            “And I tell thee this in my turn, that thou art Peter, and it is upon this rock that I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
            (Matt 16:18-29)

            “All authority in heaven and on earth, he said, has been given to me; you, therefore, must go out, making disciples of all nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all the commandments which I have given you. And behold I am with you all through the days that are coming, until the consummation of the world.”
            (Matt. 18:18-20)

            “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptised shall be saved.”
            (Mark.16:16)

            “He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me.”
            (Luke 10:16)

            “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
            (John 19:21)

            The Church is indefectible and cannot err in faith and morals. She cannot perish and will be here to the end of the world. Her teachings are immutable. As the Church is a divine institution, she is assured that divine assistance will be given her to fulfill her mission by her Head, Christ:

            “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever.”
            (John 24:16)

            “I have still much to say to you, but it is beyond your reach as yet. It will be for him, the truth-giving Spirit, when he comes, to guide you into all truth. He will not utter a message of his own; he will utter the message that has been given to him; and he will make plain to you what is still to come.”
            (John 16:12-13)

          • Anton

            Not a word there about inerrancy. What makes you think that we are as yet guided into all truth? There is plenty that we don’t know. But for now we have all the knowledge necessary for salvation. It is to be found in holy scripture.

          • dannybhoy

            “You do know the papal tiara, worn by popes of the Roman Catholic Church from as early as the 8th century to the mid-20th, as a symbol of power..”
            And they got scriptural backing for wearing a tiara as a symbol of power where?

          • Don’t be silly, Danny. One does not need biblical authority for what one wears.

          • dannybhoy

            If you’ve got it*, flaunt it eh Jack?
            *Powah!

          • Anton

            “You think Rome wants to rule the world and is using Vatican City as its base?”

            You might say that. I couldn’t possibly comment.

            The Vatican did not have to support either the fascist thug Mussolini in 1929 or the communists. This is a false dichotomy. That the more moral alternatives stood less chance of gaining power should not be a relevant factor to followers of Jesus Christ

          • “The Vatican did not have to support either the fascist thug Mussolini in 1929 or the communists.”

            No, this is true.It could just have stood by and witnessed a repetition of the French and Russian revolutions – the brutal suppression and persecution of Christianity and the massacre of the population.

            “That the more moral alternatives stood less chance of gaining power should not be a relevant factor to followers of Jesus Christ.”

            What “moral alternatives”?

          • Anton

            Are you really saying that there were no political movements in 1920s Italy that did not reject violence and took a centrist view?

            Realpolitik is for real politikians, which is not the business that the church should be in.

          • Do you actually know the perilous state of Western Europe in the 1920’s with the advance of Communism in the face of economic depression and social upheaval? And do reflect on the concept of “the lesser of two evils” in the situation facing the Church.

          • Anton

            The job of the church is to bring people the gospel and then let them feel the tension of choosing between the lesser of two evils in their own individual lives. As soon as this is done at the institutional level ie politics, the church has become tainted by the world. And it shows.

          • Oh, sure, individuals were able to do that under Russian Communism.

          • Anton

            The church does rather well under persecution, and all its members are committed, not nominal. (You surely understand the curse of nominal believers in your own denomination.) Augustine prayed “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet”. I pray the equally fallible prayer, “Lord, persecute us, but not yet.”

            In AD312 Satan changed his tactics against the church from persecution to his oldest trick, temptation. He gave Constantine a vision which Constantine, then a pagan who would have surely consulted diviners the night before a battle and thereby opened a door to the occult (remember Saul at Endor) – misinterpreted as Christian. Constantine then won the battle and offered the church vast amounts of worldly wealth and power, corrupting it spiritually from the inside rather than attacking it physically from the outside. One should not blame Constantine, who knew no better at the time as a pagan, but the church leaders in Rome should have known better – above all the man who became its bishop within a few weeks, Silvester. Better to have honoured Constantine as Caesar, welcomed his interest in the faith and offered him tuition in it but denied him any position of leadership or influence. That is not what happened and the sorry results can be seen in any history of Europe.

          • The Church may do well under persecution but that is no need to invite it. As for Constantine, all very imaginative, Anton.

          • Anton

            Thank you!

          • Should you write a fictitious historical book about this, be sure to guard the film rights.

          • Anton

            Eusebius attributed it to divine providence. Can you prove that?

        • You do make Jack chuckle, Len. He agrees with much that you write but as soon as the word Papacy appears the red mist descends and you are transported back to mid-16th century.

          • len

            We have to go back in order to go forward Jack .

          • We have to learn from our history to move forward in the modern world.

      • Yes, it’s a straight and narrow path.

        • len

          It was in the garden that things started to go wrong where the wrong path was taken….

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace, I am humbled.
    I know the AofC is a good man and we generally only hear about him what the media want us to hear which does not usually include spiritual issues or the mention of Christ because they do not understand those issues.
    Because of that, I understand where the Times is coming from. Not in several decades have heard so much from an AofC on financial and social matters (apart from a predecessor suggesting Sharia law and finance would be good). All very good but unless Jesus and the Holy Spirit is involved, the labor can be in vain and the speech is no better than a socialist politician. If the weak and dissolute do not get help from the Church by way of the Gospel in addition to practical help there will be no long term solution. Creating ‘rice’ Christians does nothing for society or Gods Kingdom.

    • Anton

      Consider that perhaps Justin Cantuar preaches the gospel on a regular basis but The Times and other media print only his utterances on political subjects. I have no problem with the leader of an established church talking politics (Establishment being a different subject…), but many problems with what he does say about the subject. Taxes fall hardest on the working poor, who are expected to subsidise an enormous amount today, and he might preach on the unfairness of that.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Anton,
        It was on the efficacy of social action without a spiritual input I was commenting. Knowing a little about Welby I am sure that his supporters and helpers should know not to be just social workers.

  • Peter Wood

    I envy His Grace the time he has to make so many obvious points about the inadequacy of Tim Montgomerie’s piece before finally making the obvious killer-point in paragraph umpteen. This is the fact that Justin Welby’s views on poverty are not his only views either in this sphere or in other politically-related spheres and so to take them, as Montgomerie does, as representative of his entire view of wealth and poverty is ludicrous.. The Times’s coverage of religion might perhaps merit continuous attention given the inadequacy of its present correspondents. Mr Moody, for example, refuses to refer to bishops as being consecrated although that is the convention. It is the convention because it is more specific a term than ordination. He also takes over the wearisome habit of his predecessor of referring to progressives and traditionalists as though some of us couldn’t be traditional in some areas and wildly progressive in others. For example, it is possible to welcome the arrival of women priests and bishops while holding reservations about the way the Alpha course people are pushing aside genial, mainstream Anglicanism in some parishes.

    • Anton

      The Alpha Course is making converts and genuine ones at that. Have a look at the testimonies in the Alpha magazine. Its theology of the Trinity is somewhat tilted toward the Holy Spirit and it is a bit light on sin and repentance, but these are taught and with no hint of doctrinal error. The genius of Alpha is not its content but its format: a (free) meal, a presentation, then a discussion at each table, on which there will be a couple of experienced Christians. If you are dissatisfied with Alpha then don’t knock it – improve it!

      • magnolia

        I hardly think that the format of a free meal, a presentation and a discussion is genius. Obvious is more the word that comes to my mind!

        • Anton

          In retrospect, Yes. But nobody was doing it before HTB.

      • Thankfully it didn’t work on me (:

        • William Lewis

          It would be very surprising if it worked for everyone.

          • Hi William

            I think it’s probably better for the non observant Christians -as in those who said they were Christian in thr census, but don’t go to church.

          • William Lewis

            Not sure, Hannah, though I would definitely include some atheists and agnostics too. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s those who’ve had some “Christian” religious experience in the past who can find it rather difficult, however.

        • dannybhoy

          🙂
          Nice one Hannah! Shabbat Shalom to you and your family and friends.

        • Anton

          Well we don’t grudge you the food. Come again!

          • Hi Anton

            Thanks, but I’m a Jew for Judaism and that’s that as far as I’m concerned.

          • Anton

            Up to you, of course. I shall always be grateful to the Jews for my saviour.

          • dannybhoy

            Me too!

        • From your previously shared accounts of the particular sessions you attended, they was not genuinely Christian in instruction nor in practice.

          • Hi happy Jack

            It was an experience. I understand now that the alpha is from the “evangelical-charismatic ” bit of Christianity. I guess I can at least say I’ve tried it out, but it wasn’t for me. Just like you strongly adhere to Catholicism, it’s the same with me and Judaism.

          • Hannah, Judaism and Catholicism share the use of reason, preservation of tradition, ritual integrity and teaching authority in common. Jack would have reacted the exact same way as you if he had been exposed to Charismatic-Pentecostal approaches.

          • dannybhoy

            They were defective Jack?

          • Ask Hannah. It was she who attended, not Jack. From memory, they attempted to exorcise a demon from her. What do you reckon?

          • dannybhoy

            Perhaps a tiara should have been worn…?

            I seriously question this kind of behaviour if what you say is accurate.

            Not to say I don’t believe in the existence of spirit beings, but this kind of behaviour in this kind of setting makes me cringe.

      • Shadrach Fire

        HTB’s marriage course is extremely well presented and I know of many who have benefited from it.

        • dannybhoy

          I wish more churches would do this, and counselling for those going through ‘adjustments’ and ‘hiccups’ along the way.
          Parenting classes too…!
          In fact I would be happy if the CofE insisted on marriage classes as a condition of being married in the church…
          Likewise parenting and godparenting for baptisms. Otherwise it’s really saying that Christianity is just a take it or leave it convenience…

      • Peter Wood

        Anton, I take the points you make but as explained above I’m not criticising Alpha per se but its apparent effect on the actions of some individuals. However, now you analyse the system so helpfully you raise questions. What could ever be without a hint of doctrinal error? I understand what you say about format but surely there is nothing new about discussion of this sort and if content doesn’t contribute to the genius of Alpha, what are you all discussing, pray? And what do you mean by experienced Christians? We don’t go around measuring the degree or extent of the Christianity of others…..or perhaps the Alpha graduates do?

        • Anton

          Peter, I don’t particularly want to get into a quibble about this; I’d suggest that Alpha is basically in accord with the main thrust of the New Testament and Nicene Creed and that’s good enough for me. You surely know an experienced Christian when you meet one?

          • dannybhoy

            One of our weaknesses is our willingness to criticise something which is obviously life changing in the Christian sense because it doesn’t meet the approval of our theologically critical faculty,; even though we afflicted with this pedantic condition dare nothing and achieve nothing for God’s kingdom….

          • Dominic Stockford

            Christianity Explored is so much better the gap is almost stratospheric.

          • Anton

            Re content I’m willing to believe it (I’ve not seen it), but I hope it sticks with the Alpha format which is absolutely right.

    • William Lewis

      “For example, it is possible to welcome the arrival of women priests and bishops while holding reservations about the way the Alpha course people are pushing aside genial, mainstream Anglicanism in some parishes.”

      Isn’t that just liberal anglicanism?

      • Peter Wood

        Thank you Wiliam. Perhaps I should overcome my internal objection to my own long-windedness and suggest that a truly liberal position would be to stand astride both our main Anglican traditions – Evangelical and Catholic – and appreciate the merits and demerits of both. I’m well aware of the value of Alpha as pointed out by Anton but was referring to particular situations in a number of parishes where an atmosphere of genial tolerance has given way to a this-is-the-way we do things now.

        • William Lewis

          I like your definition of true liberal Anglicanism and would that there were more of it. However, I am sorry to hear of this somewhat callous approach involving Alpha that you allude to. In our church, the Alpha Course is whole-heartedly promoted at regular intervals throughout the year and appears to be a main source of growth. Though it certainly is not the raison d’être of the church which seems still to have the air of Anglican genial tolerance that it had when I first turned up many moons ago.

          • dannybhoy

            I am pleased to hear how it’s working for your church William.

          • William Lewis

            Yes, it is certainly encouraging and, God willing, will continue to be so.

          • dannybhoy

            Each generation naturally presents a new challenge, and I think in our time loneliness exacerbated by broken relationships and bad parenting, complicated by drug and alcohol abuse, made even more difficult by “cyber alienation” means that we must respond with more of God’s love and patience.

          • William Lewis

            A perceptive comment dannybhoy and I think that much of Alpha’s effectiveness is that it can be a great vehicle for reflecting this great love that we come to know and experience as Christians.

          • CliveM

            Good comment DB.

          • dannybhoy

            Well fanks Clive. Fanks very much

          • CliveM

            Always a pleasure!

        • Martin

          Peter

          Strange, I thought the CoE was supposed to be Reformed, in the Calvinistic sense. Certainly that’s what is in the 39 Articles.

        • carl jacobs

          Peter Wood

          It depends entirely on what you want to be genially tolerant about. Some things require a “This is the way it is” attitude. Other things don’t.

  • Inspector General

    Oh, come on Cranmer. You can see the writing on the wall. What’s the tenure of a bishop these days, ten to fifteen years wouldn’t you say. Thus, in not a great deal of time, the CoE will become even more unrecognisable. We can ‘look forward’ (…unfortunately…) to a church that is a hotbed of feminism, staffed by High Priestess with a chip on their shoulder about living in what is and what will always be, a man’s world. Whatever is to be lauded by the church to come, it’s not going to be capitalism. Not at all. That’s a man’s world, you see. Far removed from the kitchen economics the ladies will enthuse about. All Montgomerie is doing is getting his bit in now.

    So he takes it out on Welby. Shouldn’t think it’s personal, merely castigating the front man of the organisation. Best get used to ‘organisation’ to describe Anglicanism, old chap. One fears ‘church’ is rapidly becoming an old fashioned word in the ranks. Stinks of devout Christianity, don’t you find. That’s going to be a bit of a problem for the future humanist / small ‘c’ Christian leadership. Hopefully, we’ll both still be around then, and can eagerly await the organisation’s ‘mission statement’, as obviously Christ’s message as it stands needs modernising, just as everything else in the CoE has needed in recent times, apparently.

    And yes, the Times does owe the man an apology. Let us all make the most of Welby while he’s in office, the Times included. We’ll miss him when he goes.

    • Anton

      How long before a coronation is delayed because the Archbishop of Canterbury is too heavily pregnant?

      • Inspector General

        {HOWLS!}

      • The Explorer

        And what sex would the pregnant Archbishop be? Radical feminists like Alison Jaggar have argued for men to be able to lactate and carry fertilized ova. (It’s to break down the idea that me and women are biologically different.)

  • Martin

    When will Archbishop Welby ever preach the gospel?

    He seems more interested in ignoring the Bible on women in ministry and avoiding arguments with the government of fake marriage. He doesn’t need to get rid of the wets, he is one.

    • Anton

      Well Said. St Paul said to Timothy (1st letter, ch.3) that an episkopos should govern HIS family well; thereby ruling against Anglican women bishops and Roman Catholic enforced episcopal celibacy.

  • Phil R

    Until recently I used to think, like Martin below, that Welby just needed to preach the Gospel. However I now think that we are naive if we think that the problems with the CofE is just Welby.

    It is like say that the problem with Nazism was Hitler or the problem with the slave trade was economics or racism.

    There is a far bigger intelligence behind this.

    • Anton

      Yes, And we know who.

      • sarky

        Linus??

        • dannybhoy

          Lol! Linus will be pleased though…

  • Shadrach Fire

    Your Grace, I look adversity in the face and I say “You don’t own me”.
    I dedicate this song to recession,
    Depression and unemployment
    This song’s for you

    Today’s a new day, but there is no sunshine
    Nothing but clouds, and it’s dark in my heart
    And it feels like a cold night
    Today’s a new day, where are my blue skies
    Where is the love and the joy that you promised me
    Tell me it’s alright

    I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain
    Fell from heaven like a shower

    (When I think how much better I’m gonna be when this is over)
    I smile, even though I hurt see I smile
    I know God is working so I smile
    Even though I’ve been here for a while
    I smile, smile
    It’s so hard to look up when you been down
    Sure would hate to see you give up now
    You look so much better when you smile, so smile

    Today’s a new day, but there is no sunshine
    Nothing but clouds and it’s dark in my heart
    And it feels like a cold night
    Today’s a new day, tell me where are my blue skies
    Where is the love and the joy that you promised me
    Tell me it’s alright

    I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain
    Fell from heaven like a shower now

    I smile, even though I hurt see I smile
    I know God is working so I smile
    Even though I’ve been here for a while
    I smile, smile
    It’s so hard to look up when you been down
    Sure would hate to see you give up now
    You look so much better when you smile

    • Anton

      To what tune, please?

      • Shadrach Fire

        If you can call it a tune; It’s a Kirk Franklin song called ‘I smile’ available on Spotify or other music download sites.

  • len

    The Church can go many ways in these last days it can be the poor struggling church upholding the Word of God and getting ridiculed and persecuted by those who feel threatened by having the light of the Gospel expose their deeds which they would rather remain in spiritual darkness.
    The Church can also welcome in the world and allow the world to set the agenda for their church..
    The Church can set its own agenda for the purpose of controlling the masses(no pun intended) to enrich itself and to hold power over those it could set free if it preached the true Gospel as directed by Christ.
    A time for churches to reflect what their function actually is and whether they are fulfilling that function?.

    • Phil R

      I am assuming that from previous comments that you regard the first/top one to be the correct path for the Church?

      So let me ask the question. If God is behind it then why is the top “Gospel preaching Church” still a struggling Church?

      All three scenarios for the Church seem pretty bad for me but the top one is perhaps the worst. I.e. they say they preach the Gospel but actually has the same worldly agenda as the other two.

      • len

        Why does God allow His saints’ His Church’ to be persecuted?. Good question, same question the Apostle Paul asked, also Job and many others..God has His reasons (not always apparent to us mortals!.)

        “Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time ” In this passage, a “time” represents a year. The period described as “time and times and half a time” is thus a three and a half year period. (Daniel 7:25 NKJV).
        In Bible prophecy, a day represents a year.The Papacy
        would ‘persecute’ the saints (God’s people) for 1260 years. The ‘legally ‘recognized supremacy of the Pope began in 538 AD, when Emperor Justinian elevated the Bishop of Rome to the position of Head of all Churches’ the Edict of Justinian’.
        Adding 1260 years to 538 AD brings us to 1798, which is the year the Pope was deposed when the French General Berthier, under Napoleon, led him into captivity. Napoleon apparently tried to crush the Papacy, and about 18 months later the Pope died in exile in Valence, France. This act ended papal power in terms of enforcing papal decrees.

        Which brings us back to the rise of the Papacy through the deals made with Fascist dictators and the The Lateran Treaty of 1929 .

        Satan hates the true Church of God(the Ekklesia ) and will do all he can to destroy it.

        • Phil R

          It is the “true Church of God” business that always worries me.

          Those that claim this I find, are usually the least qualified to call themselves that.

          • dannybhoy

            Why does that worry you Phil?
            Anyone can read the New Testament and find out how it functioned and how it regulated itself. Anyone can read what is meant by “the new birth, abiding in Christ, being a new creation” and measure up themselves against the Biblical definition of a Christian to see where they stand.
            That’s what the true Church is about.

          • Phil R

            “being a new creation” and measure up themselves against the Biblical definition of a Christian to see where they stand”

            I don’t measure up.

            Never going to make “the grade”.

            Not a “real” Christian then it seems?

            BTW none of us measure up

          • dannybhoy

            “Not a “real” Christian then it seems?”
            If you have prayerfully acknowledged you are a sinner before God, confessed your sins, accepted His forgiveness by faith…
            If you have asked the Holy Spirit to dwell in you and change you from within..
            If you want to fellowship with other Christians and share with others what has happened to you,
            then you’re a Christian. You know you don’t measure up, you know you can’t live the Christian life without the enabling of the Holy Spirit..
            you’re a Christian.

          • And reforming our life is part of the process too. We have with grace:

            ” But afterwards when Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, ‘Behold, thou hast recovered thy strength; do not sin any more, for fear that worse should befall thee.’ “

          • dannybhoy

            Also. But in my own subjective experience at the point of asking Jesus into my heart it was a very real feeling of deep peace. I slept like a baby for the first time in weeks, and after months of trying to stop smoking I remember asking the Lord to help me,
            I had stoped for a week before I realised, and the craving had completely disappeared.–

          • Phil R

            Acts 13:48

            “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.”

            Therefore I am not sure we all need all your other stuff!

          • dannybhoy

            That’s known as taking a verse out of context and building a doctrine out of it!
            http://www.freewill-predestination.com/acts13.html
            So you will need all my other stuff!

          • Phil R

            So

            We do these things that you say we must do.

            and

            Only then will be be forgiven?

            BTW. I have looked at a large number of translations and commentaries of that verse. None agree with your guy that they translated it wrong.

          • dannybhoy

            Good morning young Phil!

            Re Acts 13:48

            “BTW. I have looked at a large number of translations and commentaries of that verse. None agree with your guy that they translated it wrong.”
            Well that’s the difference between those who believe in predestination and those who emphasise free will. Calninism and Arminianism. Obviously I am convinced by Arminianism, but on another level I think they are two aspects of the same thing.

            “Only then will we be be forgiven?”
            Forgiveness means nothing until we know that we are guilty. That is the essence of the new birth, however it happens. (I would say my conversion came through a revelation of my own sinfulness.)

            1 Timothy 1:12> (ESVUK)
            “12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.[d] Amen.”

            John 3:> (ESVUK) You Must Be Born Again
            3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[e] blows where
            it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

            John 3: (ESVUK)
            16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

            Sorry to load you up with Scripture, but you can’t make a doctrine out of a verse! The overwhelming evidence of Scripture is that God would that all men be saved, but because He is God He knows that not everyone will be.
            But that won’t be because He has “favourites..”

          • Phil R

            I think we are arguing over the same thing.

            Flip my argument and you have your free will as the other side of the same coin.

            However, my point would be John 6 44

            “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

            If you like the free will option. Nobody will desire God unless drawn to him by God.

            My point would be that God also states that he knew who would be saved before the universe was created. (Ephesians 1:4) Therefore we are back to the original point.

            I don’t think we need to argue over the same coin. However, I do think that predestination allows for us to relax. Free will always ultimately make us worry if we have “done enough” to please God, when in fact we need not worry at all on that score.

          • dannybhoy

            “I think we are arguing over the same thing.”I already said that.
            Are you assuming that God will keep you saved no matter what, that He will ensure you have the motivation to run the race that is set before you?
            I believe that I could lose my salvation, that I do fail to lay hold on God’s promises and I do disappoint Him by slipping back into old ways. That my lack of dedication might result in another person being put off the faith until He can bring another more effective way of ‘reaching out’ to that person..

            However it is my awareness that God wants only good for me, that He is above all, and brings joy into my heart, and encourages me onwards, that keeps me walking this walk of faith.
            I know that I am totally dependent on Him, and that He is always there to catch me, to warn me and forgive me and wants to use me in the fight against evil.
            But it is my free will that He honours.

            http://www.bereanpublishers.com/how-does-god-draw-people-to-jesus/

          • Phil R

            “I believe that I could lose my salvation, that I do fail to lay hold on
            God’s promises and I do disappoint Him by slipping back into old ways.”

            That is where we differ. I did not earn my salvation through any effort of mine. So how can I lose it through any lack of effort of mine?

            That is my assurance.

            BTW since my salvation relies entirely on grace I cannot have any pride in that my salvation is somehow a result in my choice, or me being a clever, or better person for choosing Jesus.

          • dannybhoy

            I didn’t earn my salvation either Phil. But because God gives us freewill you and I have to choose.
            Otherwise the whole thing is nonsense. Why would God give man freewill and expect him to obey the Law, and to make choices and urge him to make the right choices if everything is preordained and settled?
            It is not an act of cleverness or pride or virtue to make a choice. Nor is it an act of virtue to acknowledge one’s dependence on God’s grace, enablement and mercy to enable the individual to run that race..

          • Phil R

            “Why would God give man freewill and expect him to obey the Law, and to make choices and urge him to make the right choices if everything is preordained and settled?”

            The thing is you cannot freely do what you have just said above.

            No man can.

            Why obey the law?

            Because we love God.

            I know that God loves me because of Jesus and I love God. God does not love me just because I try/do things to please him. His love is unconditional, otherwise it would not be love at all. However, because I love God I do not do things that I know he will disapprove of. However, if I fail, I know I do not lose God’s love.

          • dannybhoy

            Yes Phil, but if all we do is from God and nothing of our own volition then we are no more than puppets.
            God’s love is unconditional as far as salvation is concerned, but once we have come to faith then the Holy Spirit begins His work of regeneration in us and we see the fruits of the Spirit beginning to form.
            Proverbs 3> ( ESVUK)

            11 “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
            or be weary of his reproof,
            12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
            as a father the son in whom he delights.”

          • Phil R

            “but if all we do is from God and nothing of our own volition then we are no more
            than puppets.”

            Until recently, I used to think exactly the same way.

          • dannybhoy

            Well if you’d be willing to share how your thinking changed I for one would be interested to hear it.
            Theology is good as long as it results in something positive and actionable. I think that’s why I personally prefer to stay with the simple Gospel and try to live it.
            With God’s help of course…. 🙂

          • Phil R

            It was the verse I first started with and a few other influential people over 10 years or more.

            I was with you. If it is true, what is the point of prayer, obedience, evangelism, etc I asked myself.

            This also kept coming back to me. A number of Christian writers have remarked on the following.

            “Sin and evil are self-centeredness and pride
            that lead to oppression against others, but there are two forms of this. One
            form is being very bad and breaking all the rules, and the other form is being
            very good and keeping all the rules and becoming self-righteous”

            I was becoming the second person (Like many conservative Christians — don’t worry I am still orthodox) and I did not like what I saw in myself. I was the older brother in the prodigal son.

            However, if I am chosen by God rather than I chose God then I have no basis for pride. God chose me even though I had done nothing to warrant it, so nothing was as a result of my own efforts.

            When I look back on my life, I did not chose God he chose me. That is how it happened. We hate it because a God who does this for us (chooses us) can ask anything of us.

          • dannybhoy

            Thank you for sharing that.
            I have been there in the sense of getting proud and self righteous because of my devotional life, my outwardlly holy life!
            But like diets, you eventually grow weary and give up.
            If your new theological position gives you peace and joy and a closeness to the Lord then that’s all that matters.
            I think Arminianism looks at salvation from the human perspective, and Calvinism majors on the divine perspective.
            What matters is the relationship to our Lord and Saviour, who said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (from John 10)

          • len

            Jesus defines His Church, religion defines theirs.

        • Len, being an expert with calculation, and looking in your crystal ball the bible, do give prophecy a time-frame for the conclusion of history.

          “Yet always you must remember this, that no prophecy in scripture is the subject of private interpretation.”
          (2 Peter 1:20)

          • len

            That includes the Catholic theologians Jack(hows that hole in your foot?)

  • Dominic Stockford

    “The Most Rev Justin Welby said the Saudi head of state had played an “important role” in helping to bring faiths together and “tackle interfaith violence”.
    It was “right” that David Cameron passed on his condolences on his death and marked his work over the years, the Archbishop added.”

    There you re, ABCranmer – present reasoned criticism of that then!
    Time to stop defending him and start seeing him for what he is (on this matter).

  • Dominic Stockford

    And how about this, as well, as a cracking item for criticism – straight from the lips of Mr Justin Welby, via the telegraph:

    “King Abdullah has played a very important role in strengthening interfaith dialogue and in tackling interfaith violence.
    “I know that King Abdullah himself … is someone who has worked very, very hard on these issues and has contributed much and I think it’s right that the prime minister should send condolences on his death and should recognise what he’s done over the years.”

    These comments of his rather contrary to your comments on twitter about how innocent he is of the support and praise being offered to the tyrant from Saudi Arabia, My Lord, and so I think we should now have another article from you being clear how deluded and wrong he really is…

    • Anton

      Ugh. He would have done better to say nothing than speak untruths.

    • Dreadnaught

      Call Abdullah a tyrant if indeed he is one but I think you don’t fully appreciate that in this medieval monarchy Sharia rules, and powerful clerics of the Wahabbist strain interpret and impose the breaches and punishments which, as inhuman as they are, are preferable to the alternative being arbiterily peddled by ISIS.
      We have seen what has happened in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen where we have assumed that by replacing a dictator who had his foot on the throat of dissenters chaos ensues. Dictatorship is really what most Arabs expect and to a degree respect and respond to.
      The Sunni-Shia war is yet to ignite, but it will eventually and if the Sauds fall in the mean while who knows what aberration will rise and take power and hold the western world to ransom for the price of a barrel of oil.

      • cacheton

        ‘..are preferable to the alternative being arbiterily peddled by ISIS.’

        I saw a tweet yesterday which compared the punishments in Saudi to those of ISIS. Knew I should have kept the link! But basically, the difference is minimal.

  • What people need above all else is a sense of meaning in their lives.
    I am a Gideon and I go into schools to take assemblies and give out copies of the New Testament. What we find today is that tens of thousands of children as young as 10 or 11 are self-harming and up to a third of them say they have had thoughts of suicide.
    What these children say is that they can see no meaning or purpose in life. They have been told that they are just so many cosmic accidents and that their lives have no significance since their is no purpose in the Universe. Many of them feel unloved and unwanted as their parents have split up and one has left home. They believe that only clever, beautiful people are likely to have any success in the world.
    We’re not allowed to preach to the children but we can tell them some of what the Bible says. What I try to tell them is that the book I’m going to give them says that God created the world and that He did so for a purpose. It says that God also created them and that He therefore has a purpose for their lives. It says that God loved this world so much that the Lord Jesus died to pay for all the wrong things we’ve done. It tells us that God invites those who believe in Him to call Him Father and that Jesus Christ bids the weak and burdened to come to Him.
    Most people will never hear a sermon. They will never go onto a Christian website or read a Christian book or pamphlet. All they will hear about Christianity is what they hear on the telly, and most likely the person they will hear is Justin Welby. If they hear him talking about politics or social justice or anything of that sort, they treat him as they would a politician. But if he will speak of heavenly things, and of hope and of meaning in life, and of the love of God for the weak and helpless, maybe some will take notice.
    I don’t say that Welby never does that; only that I have never heard him do so.

    • dannybhoy

      Well put Martin. Really.

    • Anton

      Partly because the media will publicise his comments on political issues but not his gospel preaching.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Then why does he not complain? I’ve not seen a tweet where he does. Nor have I seen a tweet relating to the gospel.

        • cacheton

          I think this is actually quite sensible of him. If he tweeted the gospel, all the people who do not believe the bible has any relevance (ie: most people) will not take him seriously, and therefore won’t take him seriously on political issues either. Whereas if he speaks out about foodbanks, for example, most people will take his view into account because they agree with it, and then may decide to explore what he believes if they feel the inclination.

          • Martin

            cacheton

            Curiously, the Christian isn’t called to be taken seriously, he is called to preach the gospel, God does the rest.

          • cacheton

            Maybe the Archbishop has factored in the consequences of his actions. Have you not noticed than when the gospel is preached many people are driven away? Have you not thought about why that is?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            Nor is the Archbishop called to factor in the consequences, he is called to obey God.

            “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60 [ESV])

            Did Jesus not know they would leave Him?

          • cacheton

            Maybe he has a different idea what ‘obey god’ means from yours. Maybe he does not have the same idea about God at all!

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            Different from what the Bible says too.

          • cacheton

            You reckon you understand the bible better than the archbishop does?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            I don’t think the Archbishops of Canterbury and York care what the Bible says.

    • The Explorer

      With regard to these troubled kids.
      In a campus debate in the States that I watched, Dawkins rejected the argument that if there is no God then life is meaningless and awful. Life, in fact, may BE meaninglessness and awful, and honesty les in confronting the fact.
      On the other hand, the problem may be that we were never meant for self-sufficiency. Augustine’s, “We were made for thee, and our hearts are restless til they rest in thee,” is as true now as when he wrote it.

      • There is something of a suicide epidemic in the West – across all age groups.

        • The Explorer

          Looks set to increase when the age group Martin M has highlighted hits adulthood. (If not before.)

          • No, euthanasia for the depressed in all age groups will halt the increase.

          • The Explorer

            I know Holland had a petition a few years ago to make depression grounds for euthanasia for those over sixty-five. At the time, the request was refused, but then came the mobile euthanasia squads that could bypass your doctor.

      • cacheton

        ‘D rejected the argument that if there is no God then life is meaningless and awful. Therefore, there is a God.’

        I do not follow your logic here.

        • The Explorer

          Not my logic. I was trying to reproduce Dawkins’ argument, but I see now I didn’t express myself very well. Apologies for that.
          It was in response to an audience question, “What if you’re wrong?” I can probably track it down on You Tube. if you want, but it’s basically a verbal version of his written statement about nothing but blind, pitiless indifference, and we have no right to expect that it should be otherwise.
          An atheist friend of mine once rejected Francis Schaeffer’s argument in ‘The God Who is There’. He represented this as: reject God, and you fall below the line of despair. Despair is intolerable; therefore, there is a God. But my friend, following Sartre, argued that there is no God, and despair is the reality. How we deal with it is what matters. Same sort of territory as Dawkins.
          Hope that clarifies.

          • dannybhoy

            Wow!
            Another person who knows Francis Schaeffer! I found his books extremely helpful and still refer to them every now and again. What I like is his logical approach.
            I think Schaeffer said that because man can’t actually live with his conclusions of meaninglessness, he pretends that life has meaning and moves into irrationality.

          • The Explorer

            Yes, that’s the second way of dealing with it. The first is Sartre’s view that life is absurd, which has the virtue of honesty.
            Nietzsche’s Madman says he has come to early. ie, people have not yet followed the dethroning of God through to its conclusion: they’re followers of the second way. Orwell made the same point about a wasp he had cut in half when it was eating his jam. It carried on eating: it hadn’t yet realised what had happened to it.

          • dannybhoy

            I am surprised that Schaeffer’s books are not more widely acknowledged. Do you have any thoughts on that?

          • The Explorer

            There is a book (I haven’t read it) that celebrates Schaeffer and C S Lewis as the two greatest apologists of the C20. But It was because they were two amateurs who far outperformed the professional theologians that the professionals could never forgive them., and dealt with them (by and large) by simply ignoring them. (Process theologian Norman Pittinger loathed Lewis, and Lewis’ rejoinder to him is a classic.)
            I think Schaeffer has not worn as well as Lewis because he was more specific in his target: Existentialism. But Sartre and Camus are now passé, and Derrida and Foucault are better addressed by the likes of William Lane Craig.

          • dannybhoy

            Thanks for that. I shall look for that book on Amazon. When I was in YWAM we had quite close ties with L’Abri, partly because we were both community based and Loren C and Shaeffer discussed various issues.
            Of course the L’Abri folk were the intellectuals…..;)

          • dannybhoy
          • The Explorer

            Hope it’s a good recommendation on my part.

          • dannybhoy

            Will you refund me if I’m disappointed?
            🙂

          • The Explorer

            How does one prove disappointment?

    • Martin

      Martin

      I don’t say that Welby never does that; only that I have never heard him do so.

      Nor I, nor has he complained, to my knowledge, that when he has said such things they have been omitted.

    • sarky

      My daughter is in the age bracket you describe. I’m sorry but what you describe is not my experience. My experience of her and friends is one of a happiness and lust for life. All this doom and gloom that I constantly read on this site is just not the experience of many people. Then again I suppose it helps your cause if you think that all of those without god are immoral and suicidal. We are not. The world is no worse than its ever being. Instead of constantly looking for the bad, why not occasionally look for the good, there is plenty out there.
      By the way, my daughter got her gideon bible but couldn’t understand why she was given something she didn’t want, apparently she didn’t have a choice?

      • Inspector General

        Sarky thing. You have experienced bleak protestant thought just now. Catholics are much more fun. One hopes your daughter gives the meaning of life some thought, and is able to realise the superficial modern ideals for what they are…

        • Inspector General

          Having reread MM post, it’s not so bad. The Inspector recalls the condemnation of his previous comment, and is honest enough in his failings not to edit his last response…

        • sarky

          Thank you inspector. Luckily all my kids have been bought up to know that the latest gadgets and clothes dont make you happy. As for the meaning of life…they are free to make up their own minds and will be supported whatever the outcome.

          • The Explorer

            Whatever the outcome? Suppose they decide the meaning of life involves genocide?

          • sarky

            Dont be ridiculous!

          • The Explorer

            Not ridiculous at all. Would you care to define what ‘whatever the outcome’ means? Otherwise, don’t make statements that can’t be substantiated.

          • sarky

            What I mean is if they found god, I would support them regardless.

          • The Explorer

            Thank you for clarifying. Yes, that makes sense.

      • Martin

        Sarky

        Just like she didn’t have a choice over being taught the nonsense of Evolution. But then, God saves those who don’t ask to be saved.

        Fact is, when you pretend that God doesn’t exist you have abandoned morality.

        • sarky

          Really? So you have a monopoly on morality do you? You keep believing that Martin, who knows you might actually start believing it.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            God has a monopoly on morality.

          • sarky

            No he doesnt. Come on Martin you know you dont really believe that.

          • CliveM

            You know Martin and me don’t agree on much, I find his type of Calvinism problematic. However on this he is right. And if you think about it, on the assumption their is a God, how could it be otherwise?

            One think you can never doubt about Martin, he only says what he believes. He is completely honest.

          • sarky

            That is one big assumption!! And of you read the bible gods morality is questionable to say the least!

          • Martin

            Sarky

            Where did I say ‘believe’? It’s a fact whether you like it or not.

      • Phil R

        Its called a gift Sarky

        There are plenty of bins in school if she really does not want it.

        However, most kids it seems tend to keep it. Throwing the possibility of God in the bin (in their lives) is a big step and they realise this.

        • sarky

          But that’s exactly what she did!

          • Phil R

            It amuses me when Atheist parents encourage their kids to reject the Bible when they have not read it themselves.

            You would think that a true Atheist would be pleased that their children have the chance to make their own minds up and encourage them to read with an open mind rather than to bin it.

          • sarky

            Thats exactly what I have done. I was raised as a christian and have given my kids the opportunity to look at both sides (church holiday clubs, sunday school etc) but my daughter has come to her own conclusions about christianity.
            please don’t make assumptions, most atheists have a similar background to me and also give their kids the chance to be open minded (unlikechristian parents)

          • Phil R

            Like you say….

            Please don’t make assumptions (about christian parents either)

          • sarky

            Fair point!

      • The statistics that I gave did not come out of my own head but were given to me by a senior teacher in one of the schools. That 30,000 children are taken to hospital each year because of self-harming was mentioned on the BBC news just a few weeks ago. That 30,000 would not include those who self-harm but not seriously enough to be taken to hospital. I am delighted to hear that your daughter and her friends are not among those.
        The Gideon Testament is a gift and there are always a few children who decline it. If your daughter did not do so, that is a blessing to her. maybe it will yet come in handy.

        • dannybhoy

          Good answer Martin. My wife and I worked with abused children in care, and that depression is very real. We felt that where there is an absence of family stability and neglect or even abuse, the child’s self image is damaged beyond repair and their lives can and often do descend into chaos.

          They will do the most outrageous things simply for attention and the desire for worth and affirmation from the people they regard as parents
          Of course there are many happy and well adjusted children, even where parents aren’t married; but the ideal remains a family unit with parents who give love and acceptance to their offspring. Perfection is not required, only love and forgiveness.

        • sarky

          Personally, I think the pressure kids are under to achieve under our present education system has a lot to do with it!!! Although I concede some kids have a rough start, this is how it’s always been! !

          • I will just mention a couple of other things to you.
            I have two daughters who are around 15 years older than yours.
            I remember all the happy, optimistic faces when thy were round at my house all those years ago. One of them has killed herself, leaving behind a three year-old son. At least one other has serious mental issues.
            One of my colleagues told me of a baptism at his church recently. The young man being baptized gave his testimony. He received his Gideon Testament at the age of around 11 or 12. He slung it away in a drawer and forgot all about it. When he was 17 or 18, his parents divorced, his girl-friend dumped him and he failed his A Levels. At some point he found his N.T. and began to read it. Now, at 21 or 22, he has found a church family, a purpose and a meaning in life.
            You are right that things like this have always happened, but it is only recently that children have been subjected to their parents’ divorce in ever-increasing numbers and at the same time been taught that there is no meaning or purpose in life.

          • sarky

            Since when have they been taught there is no meaning or purpose? A life without god is not a life without meaning or purpose. I suppose that’s hard for you to admit because it means an atheist can be just as fulfilled therefore relegating christianity.

          • dannybhoy

            The obvious conclusion Sarky is that if you accept an accidental and meaningless universe then nothing has any meaning or value.
            Even if you overlook all the amazing accidents/abberations/genetic mutations/environmental influences that had to happen so as to account for the incredible complexity of life.
            if there is no meaning then a nihilistic approach to life is just as valid as a family orientated, faithful husband who loves his kids.
            But it has no real meaning.

          • sarky

            How does it follow that if the universe is accidental then life has no meaning? Meaning is derived from yourself and how you live.

          • dannybhoy

            But meaning has to be rooted in something surely?
            We might like to say that life has meaning by itself, as an animal has love for its young for example.
            But animals as far as we know do not concern themselves with wondering “Who am I and how did all this come about?
            Certainly some never concern themselves with these questions, but obviously scientists and philosophers do and spend lots of time and money on it.
            Really, if there is nothing other than existence, why should we get upset about the nature of existence and try to make things better?
            It is because we are different from the animals that we seek meaning and have a genuine sense of grievance when things are wrong or people are ill treated. Why?

          • sarky

            Meaning doesn’t have to be rooted in anything. A sense of grievance is nothing more than empathy which is an evolutionary tool that allows us to cooperate with each other, which makes us stronger.
            Prehaps you are looking for meaning in the wrong place? I genuinely feel sorry for you if you need god to justify your existence.

          • CliveM

            I’m not sure anyone has said you need a God to ‘justify’ their existence, but because thankfully there is a God, we are given meaning for our existence.

          • sarky

            So what about all the people who find meaning without god?

          • CliveM

            Well their is meaning and then their is meaning! Some people can find a type of meaning by consumerism. For some of them it will even work in a way. However for meaning that enhances life, rather then simply soothes the emptiness, you need God.

          • Linus

            I agree. THEIR is meaning. Each individual finds meaning in THEIR particular philosophy. It doesn’t mean THERE is any, of course. Not objectively, at least. But whatever gets you through the night…

          • CliveM

            Ok so without God in your materialist Universe, true meaning doesn’t exist? On that at least we agree.

            Now perhaps you can tell Sarky.

          • Linus

            Objective meaning may exist, but as we know nothing of the origins and purpose (if there is one) of the universe, all we can do is hold on to what seems meaningful to us. For some that means religion, for others secular humanism, for others a sort of nihilistic pointlessness they may or may not try to drown out with materialism, or indeed any of the above.

            We just don’t know.

          • CliveM

            Linus

            I have decided to place my faith in Christianity. I believe it to be true. I accept the possibility it may not be. But for me the life of Christ is so inspirational that I prepared to take that risk.

            You have decided to place your faith in humanism. Obviously that is where you think truth lies. However by your own admission it doesn’t give true objective meaning. Happily although I maybe wrong, I am the only one between us who can be proved right!

          • Linus

            And that’s important to you, is it? Being proved right? Isn’t that a manifestation of pride, which as a Christian, you’re supposed to struggle against? Not doing a very good job, it seems…

            I have no interest in being proved right. What I want to know is what constitutes objective truth, or even if there is such a thing. I don’t have the data to arrive at a conclusion. Indeed I may never have it. But based on what I do know, secular humanism looks like the best explanation so far, although I’m perfectly willing to admit it may not be the ultimate answer.

            If I’m proved wrong, so be it. And if I’m proved right, so be it. I won’t be crowing about how I was right and you were wrong. My attention will be completely taken up with other matters.

          • CliveM

            Oh well take the worst interpretation if you must. From my point of view it was simply a fairly light hearted observation.

          • dannybhoy

            I got it Clive, and you’re quite right. It was light hearted.. 🙂
            Linus is also right as regards ultimate proof (not in this lifetime, else it wouldn’t be faith). Our intellect such as it is can take us so far in terms of reasonableness of the case for Christianity, but it is faith that launches us into the new life.
            But nous ami Linus does ask some very interesting and pertinent questions and he asks them with increasing grace and civility … 🙂

          • CliveM

            I think with God, who would be so overpowering, if we were to move from faith to absolute, irrefutable knowledge of his presence, we would lose free will.

          • dannybhoy

            That’s very good thinking there Clive. We would be completely undone and all the atoms in our bodies would go off in different directions! I find that thought of yours both scary and awe inspiring.

          • CliveM

            Flatterer! It’s probably also not original.

          • dannybhoy

            Yeah probably.
            But I was feeling benevolent and felt you could do with the occasional scrap of encouragement…. 😉

          • CliveM

            Oh well desperate times…..,,,,,,,,

          • dannybhoy

            That’s a fair summation Linus, except as I tried to explain to you about seriously seeking God many people don’t approach the subject in humility. They don’t take the time to ask God in prayer or conversationally, “God if you’re real please show me.”
            Perhaps because they know enough about Judaism or Christianity that if God DID answer a sincere request, they would then have to DO something about it; so it’s better not to know…
            When I was at boarding school it came to the age where we were supposed to get confirmed.
            I went to the classes (of course, I had no choice) but the more I heard the more uncomfortable I became.
            In the end I wrote home and told my mother (who was a Christian) that I didn’t want to get confirmed because I didn’t want to make promises to God that I knew I had no intention of keeping.
            My mother and father wrote to the chaplain and I didn’t get confirmed. Years later when I became a born again Christian I got baptised…

          • dannybhoy

            You NOW Linus, you’re sounding a bit like Sarky KNOW….

          • sarky

            No you don’t!!!!!

          • CliveM

            I didn’t expect you’d agree!!

            But its true.

          • A life without God is not a life without meaning or purpose.
            Is it not? That is how I found it, and I am not the only one.
            Read Ecclesiastes. Or Shakespeare.

            Out! Out, brief candle!
            Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
            Who struts and frets his hour upon the stage
            And then is heard no more; it is a tale
            Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
            Signifying nothing.

    • Phil R

      Just as an an encouragement

      I took my Gideons Bible on a backpacking holiday when I was in uni

      I wasn’t intending to but I spotted it just as I was leaving the house.

      In Greece I met a German Girl who I hung out with for a week and I soon discovered that underneath she was a very sad person. Recently unexpectedly her previous boyfriend has committed suicide by hanging himself in the family garage. She had found him and naturally blamed herself. She had come on holiday she said to try and forget.

      When we went our separate ways I gave her the Gideon Bible. We wrote a few times but the Bible was never mentioned until around a year later when she wrote to me telling me that she had tried to read the Bible but found the English hard (A fair comment I would add) but she had recently bought a German Bible and was reading it. Our paths did not cross again so I do not know where things went from there.

      • dannybhoy

        That’s a great story, and an example of how God wants to use His children in reaching out to those who are lost, unhappy and seeking meaning. In fact it’s one of the beautiful aspects of being a Christian.
        That each day as we cleanse our hearts before God and surrender ourselves afresh to the leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit, He can lead us to people who He knows are searching..

  • IanCad

    No doubt about it. The AofC is a good man appointed to what is surely one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
    But, I can’t help thinking, he should have more sense than to praise the tyrant king of Arabia.

    • Inspector General

      Ian, when you are in charge of a few million muslims, you keep the lead at choke…

      • IanCad

        As one who, on this blog who, has stated that – like it or not – Saddam and Gaddafi should not have been overthrown. And further, that our machinations toward the fall of Assad were idiotic; then I must agree that you have a point.
        That said, The AofC should at least have kept quiet.

        • CliveM

          IanCad

          I agree with everything you’ve said on this.

          • IanCad

            Thanks Clive.

  • Uncle Brian

    On the subject of His Grace’s OP, I don’t think Ruth Gledhill would ever have made the sort of foolish mistake that Montgomerie is evidently guilty of. Why did she leave? Her departure was clearly a disimprovement as far as the paper’s coverage of religion is concerned.

  • Rasher Bacon

    Oh well, one puerile swipe obviously deserves another…