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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Justin time

The chair of St Augustine of Canterbury is soon to be occupied by the Rt Rev Justin Welby following the confirmation of his election in St Paul's Cathedral on Monday, 4th February. I say occupied because the retired 104th Archbishop demonstrated in his valedictory 'Goodbye to Canterbury' TV programme, that the chair is too big to be filled by one man, or woman as he implied in a typical gender neutral comment, perhaps alluding to an earlier comment that the job was too big for one man.

There is a touch of irony in the opening paragraphs of a letter to another St Augustine published by the Ship of Fools when Rowan 'wrote' as the then newly elected Archbishop of Wales: What everyone remembers, of course, is the things you got wrong – or the things we're quite sure you got wrong. [...] And we blame you for messing up Christian attitudes to sex, because for you it was an area of humiliation and tragedy – forgetting, again, that you truly thought sex between husband and wife had something of heaven in it. We look for a scapegoat to explain why Western Christianity and Western civilization are so much of a mess. You wrote such a lot and so powerfully that I'm afraid you're a very good candidate for the position. But I think you would have turned around and challenged us: why the passion for a scapegoat? What are you refusing to look at in yourself?

It is too easy to look for a scapegoat. The sorry spectacle of Dr Philip Giddings being hounded for fulfilling his Christian duty as he saw it was the culmination of the fury of the  movement for the ordination of women when they should have been asking themselves how they landed themselves in that mess when their goal was so easily within reach. The verdict of the majority who voted at the special meeting of the House of Laity was that the Christian virtues of love and charity exemplified by Dr Giddings had been replaced by greed with one excuse after another being advanced to reject any compromise other than that deemed acceptable to WATCH and their allies. I fully accept that women would not want to be placed in what they regard as an inferior position but that is something of a red herring when in reality the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had explained why it would not be so. Indeed how could it be for anyone sent as a servant

The new Archbishop has a difficult job on his hands. The stumbling block of 'second class' women bishops cannot be overcome by going over the same ground which has been deemed totally unacceptable to the women's movement. Much to the chagrin of some in the women's lobby the recognition by the C of E of Free Church of England orders presents the opportunity to be more outward looking. As the Right Revd Christopher Hill, Chair of the Church of England's Council for Christian Unity, said:  'I hope there will be good relations between us and especially in those places where there is a Free Church of England congregation.' Charity begins at home! 

No doubt when St Augustine of Canterbury was installed as Archbishop he could not have imagined the prospect of a woman sitting on his chair although we can be fairly confident of what St Augustine of Hippo would have thought about it. However, we can be certain that if three of the greatest theologians of our day, Pope Benedict, Metropolitan Hilarion and Archbishop Rowan had to decide on the ordination of women they would have voted two to one against Archbishop Rowan as would the majority of Anglicans. But now is the time for reconciliation. We have a new Archbishop who has that gift giving us the opportunity for a re-appraisal in the knowledge that we are all members of the One body. 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

God loves a cheerful giver

'God loves a cheerful giver' will be a verse increasingly familiar to worshippers involved in Stewardship campaigns which hope to persuade congregations to give more in their struggle to keep up with costs as their numbers dwindle. I can't say I found this phrase helpful. Far better, I used to think, if the verse read 'God loves a grudging giver' but that is ruled out in the full verse: "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion". 

It is hard not to feel under compulsion when church politics get in the way. In the current debate on same-sex marriage the ink was barely dry on the paper for the first reading of the Bill before the Church in Wales was putting together a Press Release showing a clear intent to be open to a resolution from the Church’s Governing Body to allow ministers to marry same-sex couples, from previous utterances a position almost certainly insisted on by their Archbishop and well-know disciple of the ultra-liberal Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, an example of ecclesiastical destruction to come which should be obvious to all but the blinkered but congregations are still expected to pay for this political posturing.

The February edition of 'The Bell', The Magazine of the Cathedral and Parish of Llandaff, where the Archbishop is acting Dean despite being unable to fulfill his duties as Archbishop adequately without the assistance of an Ass Bishop, there is a plea for people to up their giving. The note says: Have you seen the notice on the back wall of the Cathedral indicating the revised 'cost' per worshipper per week that we are required to pay to the Diocese in our Parish Share for 2013? It is now £8.56 and so, if your contribution (whether paid weekly, monthly, or occasionally) isn't reaching that level you are implicitly expecting someone else to subsidise your attendance! Please think and pray about this when deciding on the amount that you, as an individual or a family, decide will comprise your offering. A fair point even if not strictly within the spirit of St Paul's Letter to the Corinthians. It is not unreasonable for the better off to contribute more based on contributing 5% of disposable income which still leaves those on the margin contributing relatively more - the widow's mite - but the message is clear enough bearing in mind that there are many other expenses to consider including heating, lighting and general maintenance as well as charitable giving to the many who are even less fortunate. 

Clearly this situation cannot continue indefinitely with fewer and fewer worshippers contributing more and more to sustain an organisation which appears to be completely out of touch with reality. Both in England and in Wales, those who now find themselves on the fringes are expected to pay their share regardless of the episcopal care they receive, if at all. Of first importance should be cost-cutting. In Wales, the good parishioners of Llandaff have to endure a dictatorial regime while, like others in the Province, being threatened with massive changes under the Church in Wales Review.  Their priority must be to reduce administrative costs (Section 15 of the Review) now, not wait four years so that worship in its present form becomes unsustainable; otherwise it will be impossible for the few who are left to keep the hierarchy in the style to which they have become accustomed. The lessons of the High Street should not be lost on the church when their main desire today is to be relevant to society.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Why is obedience to Christ's example anathema to new Anglicanism?

I maintain a link to 'Thinking Anglicans' but tend not to visit their site very often, largely out of despair of the comments of those determined to rid the Anglican church of anyone who does not accept the latest fad or fashion, even if that person sincerely believes that he or she follows the example of Christ. On 22 January, 'Thinking Anglicans' included a Press Release under the heading 'Diocese of Blackburn clergy write to the Archbishop of York':  Over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry. Apart from the blatant discrimination against priests holding views which liberals regard as unacceptable, there is no sense of holiness or that the most suitable man should be appointed, just the advancement of the ordination of women in the Church of England to the exclusion of all else.

This new 'liberal' church is no longer the broad church of old but an exclusive club for like-minded people based not on scripture but on conjecture in deference to political correctness and a complete misunderstanding of what constitutes equality. In their drive to exclude anyone who does not support the ordination of women, either they ignore or are ignorant of existing legislation which stipulates that "there will be no discrimination against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood"

Ignorant or not, some of those commenting under the 'Thinking Anglicans' entry feel free to brand as 'bigots' fellow Anglicans who adhere to the historic catholic faith along with the vast majority of Christians who look to Christ's example rather than to conjecture based on what is not said in the Bible. There are many biblical accounts of people questioning Jesus but there is no record of the women He favoured asking why He had no regard for parity of the sexes when calling His Apostles or what He thought about gender-neutral marriage. Hence the free rein taken by Anglican revisionists.

It is conjecture based on silence in scripture that enables the House of Bishops to issue statements which could have been written by WATCH as in this example: The House expressed its gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events [the consequences of the 20 November General Synod vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure] had left so many feeling undermined and undervalued. Anyone who feels "undermined and undervalued" should ask themselves how they find themselves in this situation. It is because of the determination of many holding the 'majority' view that others should accept what little they are offered or get out. But there are still Anglicans in favour of the ordination of women who are not prepared to see other loyal Anglicans treated in such a shabby manner. Consequently the selfish failed to triumph over the selfless who demand no more than their right of freedom to worship according to conscience, unencumbered by restrictions allegedly designed to avoid a two-tier church, a position easily avoided if there is a will to do so .

Yesterday I listened to a conversation between Peter Ould and Steve Chalke about their different approaches to same-sex relationships. It is a typical example of the divisions created in Anglicanism between those who conjecture on the basis that the Bible has nothing specific to say about current trends and those who take a traditional approach to the message of scripture. The conversation was prefaced with the new commandment: 'Jesus said to His followers, if you have love for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples' and quoted Jesus as He prayed for all believers. The question for discussion was, How can we be a Jesus shaped church while disagreeing on this question?

I did not recognise the 'unwelcoming' church which Chalke described, a church which had to make up its own rules because long term same-sex relationships are not mentioned in the New Testament, the same attitude that can be traced back to the ordination of women and and the 'anything goes' culture in the US which is being imported into the Church of England. This conversation takes us to the heart of the problem with new Anglicanism which takes its cue from society, making the rules as they go along because, as they see it, the Bible is silent on a specific issue instead of taking the message of the New Testament as a whole. Consequently they condemn those who strive to bear witness to Christ's example by taking passages of scripture out of context to reinforce a point or claim that the teaching is irrelevant today because Christ was a man of his time. If that were so, miracles would be mere conjuring tricks and the Resurrection a fabrication. That is not the basis of the Christian faith.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

What IF?

actalliance                  action!aid                   christian aid 

Enough Food...IF

The world produces enough food for everyone.
Yet every day almost one in eight people like Ralia go to bed hungry.
It doesn’t have to be like this. We believe in a world where everyone has enough to eat. We believe this can happen, in our lifetime. IF we act together, and act now.

What IF?

Hundreds of millions still live with hunger and malnutrition. But this year, we have the chance to change this.
A huge, powerful and exciting coalition of organisations has come together to make sure 2013 marks the beginning of the end of man-made hunger.
In June the UK will host the G8, a meeting of the world’s richest nations. David Cameron has already pledged to make tax, aid and transparency a focus.
IF we all speak out together in 2013, we can make world leaders change the future by tackling four big IFs:
  we use land for food, not fuel.  
  we keep our promises on aid. 
  we force governments and big corporations to be open and honest.

Go to action!aid or Christian Aid to take part or check out actalliance to see what they do. BBC report here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Mixed messages from No 10 on issues of faith

Photo: EPA

  Yesterday in his statement to the Commons on the Algerian crisis, the Prime Minister referred to the threat of Islamist terrorism inspired by an ideology that is an 'extreme distortion of the Islamic faith' which holds that mass murder is not only acceptable but necessary in an attempt to divide the world into a clash of civilizations. Convinced that democratic principles are the answer to Islamic ideology, previous attempts to impose Western democratic principles including the West's backing of the Arab Spring have backfired for Christians in Islamic countries. As Metropolitan Hilarion put it [see previous entry under 'Media Ignores Religious Persecution']: "In Iraq only one tenth of a million-and-a-half Christians that lived there ten years ago have survived. In Egypt we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians. There are practically no Christians left in Libya. Ninety five percent of Christians have abandoned Homs in Syria." 

Alexandria was one of the earliest centres of Christianity. In Egypt today Christians are persecuted simply for being Christian, not by terrorists but by followers of Islam, as they are around the world. So why do politicians continue to peddle the myth that Islam is a religion of peace? Tony Blair struggled to answer when he was asked in an interview what he knew about Islam [advance to position 39.00 but preferably watch the whole video]. I suspect Dave would fall into the same trap if he were asked.  As Coptic priest Fr Zakaria Boutros explains here, it is a mistake to compare Muslims with Jews and Christians, it is what the religion is based on, or, in the case of Islam, the ideology that matters.

Bishop Nazir-Ali came to Britain from Pakistan in the 1980s because his life was in danger.  In a statement to the European Court of Human Rights last year he argued that laws originally designed to protect basic freedoms are instead being used to strip British society of its Christian foundations while upholding the rights of minorities. He said: “The Christian faith and our Judeo Christian values are the cornerstone of our freedoms, prosperity and liberty in Europe” and warned that Christianity is now under threat from a “human rights agenda” which he argued is denying Christians their rights while upholding those of others. The result of the case here.

While the 'Islamic faith' is talked up, Christianity is constantly talked down and adherents put under pressure; examples here and here. In evidence to the European Court the UK Government had argued that wearing a cross is not an essential tenet of Christianity so it was not a breach of human rights to refuse permission to wear a cross; a helpful technicality! Youth organisations are not exempt from being targeted by secularists even if the organisation was founded on Christian principles such as the Scouts and the Guides. The Air Cadets is the latest organisation to drop God from their promise leaving a spiritual vacuum which others will not hesitate to fill to their own advantage whenever the opportunity presents itself. A good example of exploitation here.

So what is the Government doing to protect our Christian heritage and values? Well they will not force churches to perform same-sex marriages, that can be left to the European courts. Currently they are rushing through legislation that has not been properly thought through to change the law of succession - but not to the satisfaction of one Labour MP who is gathering support for an amendment that will 'extend the protection' to include the eventuality that the child is gay or lesbian. If by then we are a Muslim nation the heir is, in that event, more likely to be hanging from a crane than sat on the throne.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith

By David W. Virtue
January 12, 2013

VILLANOVA, PA: Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith
Orthodox and Anglican Churches are on different sides of the abyss, says Russian Orthodox leader

The future of ecumenism is in great peril with the gap widening between orthodox and progressives, says Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church a noted theologian and church historian.

Speaking before an audience at Villanova University, a Catholic institution on Philadelphia's historic mainline and one of the oldest in the US, Hilarion said that when the holy fathers of the first millennium abided in unity and while it was subjected to many serious trials, it was the foundation upon which dialogue between Christians was successful and fruitful. "Fidelity to the Christian tradition is the proper means for the restoration of unity among Christ's disciples."

The orthodox leader blasted parts of the Anglican Communion for abandoning the faith and said renunciation of the truth by some Protestant denominations makes it difficult for the Orthodox Church to continue co-operation with them.

"I regret this, but dialogues with Protestants and Anglicans which we have had for decades are now under threat because of processes taking place in the Protestant communities of the West and North. I mean the continuing liberalization in the field of theology, ecclesiology and moral teaching. Certain denominations have legitimized the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of people openly declaring their non-traditional sexual orientation."

Hilarion said he was obliged to speak about this because he wanted to preserve the good that was being achieved during the years of dialogue between Orthodox, on the one hand, and Protestants and Anglicans, on the other. "In defending the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Church, we remain true to this dialogue, yet at the same time we see that Protestants and Anglicans are growing away from us by accepting innovations which we find unacceptable.

"I am not speaking of this in the walls of a Catholic university because I am afraid to criticize Anglicans and Protestants to their faces. Every time the opportunity arises, I speak openly of our concern in direct dialogue with our brothers from the Anglican and Protestant communities. In 2010 at a festive dinner at the Nicaea Club in London in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams I stated the sad fact that the Orthodox and Anglican Churches are to be found on different sides of the abyss which separate Christians of a traditional direction and Christians adhering to liberal teachings. Recently I spoke of the same things at the old Episcopalian seminary at Nashotah House, a contemporary of your University."

The Metropolitan added that dialogue with Protestants and Anglicans has reached a dead end, but dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church has a future because, like the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church does not think of itself as being outside of Tradition and strives to teach and live in accordance with the tradition of the apostles and holy fathers. 

"In my view, the significant improvement and strengthening of relations between our Churches that can be seen in recent years is connected to an awareness that we are united by a common heritage, thanks to which both Orthodox and Catholics can and must together bear witness to the world of the eternal values of the Gospel.

"The Orthodox and Catholics encounter the same challenges which modern times lay down to the traditional way of life. In this instance we are dealing not with theological problems but with the present and future of humanity. It is in this sphere that Orthodox and Catholics can interact without compromising their ecclesiastical identity. In other words, while not yet being the one Church, being separated by various theological and ecclesiological problems, we can find ways of interacting which would allow us to respond jointly to the challenges of the modern world.

"Together we can help people realize what the traditional Christian values are - the family, the worth of human life from conception to death, the upbringing of children, the integrity and indissolubility of marriage. All of these concepts in the modern secular world are subjected to a radical re-evaluation."

Hilarion said that in Western society today, the traditional family way of life has, in effect, been destroyed. As a result, there has been a gradual decline in the populations of Western nations. "This is a very simple and real indication of the spiritual health or spiritual disease of a particular nation. If the population of a country is increasing this means that there are in the nation healthy forces which allow this to happen; if the population decreases, this is a sign of disease." The disease in society is an absence of the traditional notion of the family, he said.

"At the basis of this worldview there lies the destruction of the traditional family way of life. If we speak of Christian communities, the traditional way of life of the family is preached only by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. At the official level it is the Orthodox and Catholic Churches which defend the integrity of marriage, believe abortion to be a sin and call for an end to it, and believe that euthanasia is unacceptable."

Hilarion continued, "The 'Foundations of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church' with the Catechism of the Catholic Church which outlines the official teaching of the Catholic Church on these problems, then everywhere you will see that their positions are similar. This means that we can combine our endeavors in order to jointly protect traditional values such as the family, giving birth, how children are brought up and the integrity of marriage. This is the field where we can and must today interact with Catholics.

"In this regard, I am convinced that co-operation of all Christian confessions, and first of all between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, is greatly needed for the protection of human life and its inalienable dignity as well as the family. Therefore we who are united by faith in Christ and a two-thousand-year-old Christian tradition have to bring with renewed strength the good news to the world of the family and marriage as institutions created by God. 

"In accepting the challenge of the real world, the Christian family is to be as before the hope and pledge of a Christian civilization. It is essential to protect and support a cultural tradition which is favorable to the family, the indissolubility of marriage and the need for marital fidelity by taking an active part in the creation of legislation that favors the family and its natural foundation and by imparting to society the ideals of the majesty and perfection of the family vocation."

The Orthodox leader said that protecting of Christians from discrimination is another area of cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholics.

"Unfortunately, in the countries of the so called Arab Spring, as well as in a number of other countries of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Oceania, Christians are subjected to discrimination, persecution and repression. 

Media Ignores Religious Persecution

The media ignores the problem of religious persecution. "In planning military intervention in a particular country of the Arab world or in preparing the overthrow of the existing regime in a particular country with the help of outside forces, Western strategists completely fail to take into account the fact that the main victims are often local Christians."

Hilarion cited several examples. "In Iraq only one tenth of a million-and-a-half Christians that lived there ten years ago have survived. In Egypt we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians. There are practically no Christians left in Libya. Ninety five percent of Christians have abandoned Homs in Syria. We, Orthodox and Catholics, must raise our voices jointly in defense of Christians subjected to persecution and repression in these countries, as well as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nigeria and in a number of other countries as well.

"The countries of Europe have traditionally defended the interests of Christians in the Middle East and in Eastern Asia. In the present circumstances we hope that the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on January 2011 on the position of Christians in the context of religious freedom, as well as the declaration of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the European Union on 22 February, will have practical consequences. They were a result of active participation by the Christian Churches in this direction. We hope that the USA will join us in the defense of Christians.

"Today Christians are subjected to harassment not only in those countries where they comprise a minority but often in those countries with ancient and deep-rooted Christian traditions. Certain European countries are trying to limit the manifestation of Christian faith in public life by claiming that they are thereby observing the rights of adherents of other religions and atheists. This situation demands that Orthodox and Catholic show solidarity in their actions in protecting the Christian identity of Europe and America.

"The Christian communities of Syria and other Middle Eastern countries are crying out for help at a time when the Western media ignore their pleas for aid. Politicians too are closing their eyes to this unprecedented wave of persecution. We, the Orthodox and Catholics from around the world, have to raise our voice in defense of Christians and the Christian traditions of the Middle East. It is our duty to appeal constantly to political leaders, international organizations and the media by reminding them of this humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes."

Hilarion observed that it is essential for Orthodox and Catholics today to perceive each other not as rivals but as allies in the cause of the defense of Christians' rights. "We must develop interaction outside of the success or otherwise of theological dialogue, independent even of how relations between the Orthodox and Catholics take shape in concrete regions around the world. We must build this interaction from a common strategic task since we are dealing with the future of humanity. It is upon our joint endeavors that the future of Christianity in the third millennium will primarily depend."

Sunday, 20 January 2013

There may be trouble ahead!

Reading Dr Philip Giddings’ speech in response to the Motion of No Confidence in him as Chair of the House of Laity, here, I was particularly struck by Bishop Justin Welby's response to the first charge. 

Dr Giddings: "Mr Barney’s paper that he circulated makes a number of charges. The one [charge] which has troubled me most is the first one: that by speaking directly after Bishop Justin and against the approval of the measure, I undermined what Bishop Justin had said. ... So I have actually offered Bishop Justin an apology for any offence my words may have caused him.  He has replied to me and I quote with his permission: that “It never crossed my mind that you were in the slightest bit offensive, discourteous, impolite, disrespectful or anything other than engaging very appropriately in discussion of a serious issue.  I did think you were wrong.  You thought I was.  But we really need to be able to disagree as I am sure you do agree.” 

"I did think you were wrong", said Archbishop elect Justin Welby. What had Dr Giddings said to warrant this response? Essentially: "Can we not find a better way of taking this historic step of allowing the consecration of women as bishops without unchurching those who cannot in conscience accept it?" Dr Giddings was encouraging Synod to honour a promise that had been made in order to allow women to be ordained priests. How can it be wrong to honour a promise, particularly in a religious context, or have our bishops simply become politicians in fancy dress, ignoring pledges for political ends? There should be no coalition between the House of Bishops and WATCH which appears to be the case.

Unfairly described in the Guardian as the 'controversial head' of the House of Laity, Dr Giddings has become a scapegoat in the wake of the fury expressed by supporters of women bishops because he dared to do what all Synod members should, care for all Anglicans. Some of the initial reactions to the November Synod vote were reported by the BBC hereThe attitude of supporters was probably best summed up in the comment by the Rev Janet Appleby, author of the 'respect' get-out used by the bishops when she said: "After 12 years of discussion and consultation, the proposal we had before us at General Synod on 20 November was the best possible, given the incompatibility between the beliefs of those on opposite sides of the debate - that women can be bishops or that they can't." The 'best possible' proposal was the best possible for the majority short of outright exclusion, now the aim of hard-liners. As Dr Giddings put it in his Synod speech: "Those who have worked for reconciliation in various areas of life know that you cannot achieve a solution unless all parties agree to and own it. That is the missing piece in this legislative package. Those for whom the provision is intended do not own it".

From WikipediaIn 2002, Welby was appointed a canon residentiary of Coventry Cathedral and the co-director for International Ministry at the International Centre for Reconciliation. In 2005, he was appointed Sub-Dean and Canon for Reconciliation Ministry. What hope of reconciliation can there be if, before he becomes the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has already made up his mind that Dr Giddings is wrong and Mrs Appleby was right in suggesting that the proposal before General Synod on 20 November was the best possible? His concluding remark "But we really need to be able to disagree as I am sure you do agree" looks ominous. 

Claims that women bishops would be second class bishops unless they have their own way are completely spurious. Such claims are more about power politics than the sacred ministry. Christ humbled himself. If that is not good enough for would-be bishops they have no claim to the role: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. The interests of others, in this case a significant minority in the church, are best served by providing an environment in which there is no conflict of interest or scope for women being able to claim that they are second class. Maintaining two integrities each owning their own provides the missing piece referred to by Dr Giddings in his Synod speech: "Those who have worked for reconciliation in various areas of life know that you cannot achieve a solution unless all parties agree to and own it. That is the missing piece in this legislative package. Those for whom the provision is intended do not own it". That should be self-evident.

Friday, 18 January 2013

House of Laity has confidence in Dr Giddings

One would think that Dr Philip Giddings, Chair of the House of Laity, had been guilty of some heinous crime but in fact he has been pilloried simply for speaking the truth, something with which the House of Shame Bishops have shown themselves to be decidedly economical. The motion of no  confidence moved by lay Canon Stephen Barney was suitably rejected by a substantial majority which, using the criteria of the accusers, means that members of the House of Bishops must examine their consciences very carefully.

For readers wondering what Dr Giddings may have said to incur the wrath of the women bishops movement I have copied below an unedited transcript of Dr Giddings’s speech made during the debate on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure (GS 1708D) at the November 2012 group of sessions of the General Synod. Note particularly the paragraph in bold type [my emphasis]. Had there been no generosity of spirit when Synod accepted the women priests measure there would be no women priests demanding to be bishops but having achieved their aim their promise was rescinded showing a complete absence of Christian charity. As if that were not shame enough, it took the courage of a layman to prick the conscience of Synod because the bishops took as their guide yet another erroneous passage from the Bible and washed their hands of it. 

Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford): I want first, as Chair of the House of Laity, to welcome Bishop Justin as Archbishop-elect and express my very great appreciation for the speech he has just made. Sadly, although I agree with almost everything that he said, I cannot agree with his conclusion.

As Chair of the House of Laity, it is part of my role to ensure that the views of the whole House are heard, particularly on final approval business. Synod already knows that a substantial majority of the House and of laypeople generally are in favour of women bishops and of this draft Measure. Many speeches today are making that point. Therefore, I want to focus on a significant minority of laypeople who are opposed in principle to women bishops and to the content of the Measure before us.

Essentially, I wish to say that it is unwise to go ahead with a Measure dealing with fundamental matters of ministry and doctrine with a significant minority of our Church unable to accept its provisions. I do believe that we can find a better way.

On 7 February this year in Westminster Abbey, representatives of the Church of England and the URC took part in a service of penitence and reconciliation to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Ejection of non-conforming ministers in 1662. In November 2003, this Synod endorsed the covenant for unity with the Methodist Church in ‘a spirit of penitence for…our past divisions, believing that we have been impoverished through our separation and that our witness to the gospel has been weakened accordingly’. 

Surely we do not want to make the same mistakes again? Can we not find a better way of taking this historic step of allowing the consecration of women as bishops without unchurching those who cannot in conscience accept it?

Last week I received a letter from a former distinguished lay member of this Synod who cannot in conscience accept the sacramental ministration of women bishops. He says, ‘All I ask for is a place in that one CofE where I can continue and flourish with integrity and mutual respect, but it is precisely that which this proposed legislation denies me’. I do not agree with his views on sacramental ministry but I do not see why our disagreement requires that one or other of us has no future in the Church of England.

In 1992 I voted in favour of ordaining women to the priesthood but knowing it was unacceptable to many of my fellow Evangelicals because of their understanding of the biblical teaching on headship. I voted for that legislation because it was designed to ensure that those who could not in conscience accept it could remain with us. Today’s legislative package will not achieve that.

Do we really believe that such diversity of opinion no longer exists? Legislation does not remove diversity of opinion. It is diversity. It is not prejudice. It is not simply refusal to accept change. It is solidly theologically based judgement. That is not my view; that was recognized fully in the Rochester report. We may disagree with the dissenting minority but does that mean we have to exclude them from a future in this Church? 

Those who have worked for reconciliation in various areas of life know that you cannot achieve a solution unless all parties agree to and own it. That is the missing piece in this legislative package. Those for whom the provision is intended do not own it.

We have been told that we have debated these matters long enough. Long enough perhaps for those who are in the majority and can impose their will, but not long enough to gain the consent of those who are opposed and whose consent is essential if we are to remain a united and growing Church committed to mission. We should not be in this position. We can and should find a better way.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Chimps beat bishops in fairness test

Photo: Rex Features

 A report in today's Telegraph shows that a "sense of fairness" has been identified in man's closest relation, chimpanzees. Researchers used the Ultimatum Game to determine the human sense of fairness. "In the game, one individual needs to propose a reward division to another individual and then have that individual accept the proposition before both can obtain the rewards. Humans typically offer generous portions, such as 50 percent of the reward, to their partners - and that's exactly what we recorded in our study with chimpanzees."

Compare this result with the performance of the House of Bishops as they cowered against the feminist onslaught and surrendered decision making to WATCH. Once the women's movement had the scent of victory in their nostrils there was to be no acceptable provision for opponents, only false claims of generosity which were in direct contradiction to the assurances  of an honoured place in the church for those opposed to the ordination of women. When the vote was lost at Synod members of the House of Laity who demonstrated that they could pass the 'fairness' test were vilified for being unfair on the grounds that supporters were intended to win. - I have yet to hear an explanation of why a lengthy debate at considerable expense was necessary simply to rubber-stamp a foregone conclusion!

Previous efforts by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to safeguard the position of traditionalists were scuppered by an uncaring House of Clergy resulting in the loss of the Archbishops' amendments as summarised here. Regarded by the bishops as a fair compromise the amendments actually left the minority in a substantially worse position than the majority but that was not good enough for those who demanded equality through inequality; read here, here and here. Greed ultimately was their downfall. Had the Archbishop's amendments been accepted the process of establishing women bishops in the Church of England would now be well on its the way. Instead of examining their consciences there has been further talk of punishing the oppressed by removing any semblance of consideration, a long way from the human sense of fairness where "humans typically offer generous portions, such as 50 percent of the reward, to their partners". In the Church of England, what was given with one hand has been taken with the other in a winner takes all approach which suggests that chimps beat bishops hands down when it comes to fairness

But fairness can still prevail. If both sides were allowed an equal stake in their church as originally implied neither side could blame the other for their own failure. The Church of England is relatively small within the Anglican Communion, itself a minority of those who profess the catholic creed with whom traditionalists are aligned leaving traditionalists in a majority. Talk of sanctioning schism by allowing each side to go their own way is ridiculous when the church already comprises many distinctive members. If the Catholic Church can make room for an Ordinariate, what does it say about the Church of England reneging on promises and failing to make acceptable provision so that traditionalists are still regarded as loyal Anglicans? Fairness must be seen to be done. If chimps can do it why can't bishops? 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

C in W: Going for broke

This is a view of the future for the Archbishop of Wales. Women priests and gay bishops in a thoroughly modern setting, bending the church to the fancy of an atheistic society. But will the church survive long enough under the gospel of Barry to achieve his ambitions?

As he continues his political campaigns the Church in Wales struggles to survive. It has been announced in a Press Release today that a group of five people will examine how radical proposals for the Church in Wales can be delivered: "They will look at recommendations made to the Church following an independent review, which took place across Wales last year, and advise the Church on how they can be taken forward." There are recommendations about Governance (I & II), Ministry areas and Team leadership (III) to (VII), Cathedrals (VIII), Leadership training (IX & X), Clergy support (XI), Young people and outreach (XII & XIII), Worship and outreach (XIV), Ministry training (XV to XXI), Dioceses (XXII to XXV), Administration (XXVI), The archiepiscopal see (XXVII to XXIX), Church Buildings (XXX to XXXIII), Finance (XXXIV to XLI), Fees (XLII to XLIV), The Welsh language (XLV), Mission and ministry (XLVI to XLVII), Bishop and archbishop elections (XLVIII), Constitution (XLIX) and Leadership for change (L). 

There has already been a mixed response. From the Diocese of St David'sThere was a general feeling that the Province had not sufficiently taken into account the current developments and thinking within the individual Dioceses and the ongoing review of their mission and ministry and vision for the future. It was also considered that the short time frame in which the Diocese was expected to discuss such a large and comprehensive review was not conducive to allow a full discussion of all the issues. I previously reported here that things had got off to a bad start in Dr Morgan's own diocese of Llandaff. But one recommendation has now been achieved, the implementation of Recommendation L: the formation of a small working group charged with processing the changes! Only 49 to go.

Looking at the make up of the working group I see it is to be chaired by a Welsh NHS professional with a business consultant and a market researcher joined by a bishop to say the opening and closing prayers and a vicar perhaps to take the minutes. Whatever the clergy's functions they are outweighed 3 to 2 by business orientated laity, currently a sensitive subject in the C of E, but we must wish them well because my understanding is that even parish officers in the Church in Wales have not heard of the Harries Review let alone comprehend it. But it was an 'independent' review carried out under the chairmanship of Archbishop Morgan's friend and co-conspirator, both of whom are determined to change Anglicanism into a Protestant sect. There lies another problem. The former Bishop of Oxford has a problem with understanding the meaning of the word trust. Doesn't augur well!

An interesting description of the review group here. It highlights that "a business consultant and PR and marketing experts have been included [sic] in the group to look at radical shake-up plans for the Church in Wales". Just what the modern church needs! But some spirituality is catered for. The Church in Wales is working in partnership with Good Relations Wales in Teleos which sees spirituality as "a creative and crucial dimension of enlightened organisations and their cultural architecture". The link? Helen Birtwhistle aka Helen Biggin, Chair of the new group.

Personally I find the Gospel more than adequate. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ignorant Christians

Oct 2012. A suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in
Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100
 Photo: AFP/Getty Images

It has been estimated that more Christians have been killed for their faith in the 20th century than have been martyred in the total history of Christianity. The whole sad record here

A human rights activist with more than 25 years' experience in ministering to persecuted Christians claims that many Christians are "ignorant" of the extent of persecution globally; reported here. A random search will highlight so many incidents that it takes a major incident to hit the headlines. Groups such as Compass Direct and the Barnabas Fund keep watchful eyes on the frontlines of persecution around the world. Meanwhile, for more fortunate Christians secure in their comfort zones it is not beatings, burning or worse but a battle for bedfellows. 

Christ knows what He thinks of it!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Uncivil partners

"People against marriage equality, now Charles complains about the Succession Bill.
Some people are never satisfied Nick."

In the topsy-turvy world of the Prime Minister, it is because he believes in the institution of marriage that he is determined to change the definition to allow same-sex couples to marry even though consummation for the procreation of childrenthe basis of marriage not only in the biblical sense but in any other, is not possible. At the present time 625,000 signatures have been obtained from people petitioning their support for the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. The coalition partnership - it is not a marriage says Dave - is having none of it. No matter that there is no mandate or that many Tory MPs are rebelling against the proposal, the coalition will carry on regardless. Any consequences such as dropping 'mother' and 'father' in favour of 'parent' or, most importantly, the effect on children are thought irrelevant to the campaign

Following the publication of more proposals which have not  been properly thought through, this time Nick's baby, Prince Charles has pointed out that simply introducing a Bill to change the law on the line of succession so that male heirs will no longer take priority takes no account of wider issues. The people most affected, the Royal Family, were not consulted about the proposed changes. As a constitutional monarchy they too are expected to do as they are told. The role of the monarch as 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England' again is regarded as a side issue to be resolved if the need arises, ie, if the Church of England still exists and there is any faith left to defend.

What will these unlikely bedfellows get up to next to divert attention away from the economic mess we are in you may wonder? One radical move is hinted at here.

More here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

"The Christian faith is based on trust". What a joke!

"In the church you do have to accept a certain amount of trust. After all, if you can't accept that trust is pretty fundamental in the church, then where are we? The whole base of the Christian faith is based on trust."
- Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford

Since the House of Bishops can no longer be trusted to care for all, the implication in Bishop Harries' remark is that they are no longer Christian. You can listen to his interview here. A strong advocate of blessing civil partnerships in church he was rather coy about discussing the current controversy of gay marriages in church saying, "there is a prior and more important step and that is actually warmly to welcome civil partnerships and offer a blessing for them. That is what I think the church could do and what it should do"

Bishop Harries continues to push the liberal strategy of change by stealth while denying traditionalists what they were promised, an honoured place in the church. If the bishops want to restore trust in themselves they must show due contrition and make proper provision acceptable to orthodox Christians in their care.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Another promise goes down the pan

The Promise

Adults, Senior Section members and Guides work towards making, or reaffirm, the following Promise:

I promise that I will do my best:
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people
To keep the Guide Law.

report in the Telegraph shows that a consultation is under way which could result in the Girl Guides organisation dropping God and Queen from its oath. Previously it was  reported that the organisation was considering dropping God. But is there any point in making a promise in Britain today? The Anglican Church doesn't feel honour bound to retain promises made to orthodox Anglicans so if they are redundant in the church they must be utterly pointless in the “the ultimate feminist organisation”, as the Chief Executive and former Head of the Family Planning Association described the Guides - Feminism is about equal rights, that is, letting girls join the Scouts while keeping the Guides exclusively for girls in the name of equality. 

According to the report, 'the review follows complaints from two families with no religious faith who wanted their children to become Guides but objected to the oath'. So it is back to minorities. Rather than look for an atheist organisation or form their own, they prefer to destroy what is good for their own satisfaction. The church has led the charge with everything from the ordination of women leading to the controversies over gay bishops. Everything is being turned upside down for those who do not conform, except for traditionalists in the church whose wishes are simply ignored. How long before the Affirmations of Faith are dropped from Holy Baptism for the benefit of those who have a problem with the basic tenets of Christianity?

Friday, 4 January 2013

A house divided

The House of Laity will meet on 18 January to discuss a vote of no confidence in their Chairman, Dr Philip Giddings, an honourable man stained by feminist puppets who pretend that they are doing God's work, praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit then ignoring the result if they don't like it. As a former Archbishop of Wales said on first losing the vote to ordain women, it was the work of the devil but the Holy Spirit spoke when the measure succeeded! With senior clerics given to such ridiculous outbursts a lack of confidence in their leadership is hardly without foundation. There are many passages in the Bible providing guidance for the church but trendy clerics tend only to misquote Galatians 3:28 while ignoring passages which they find unhelpful to their cause such as 'the whiles of the devil', blind guides, lost sheep, etc, all which support the orthodox view of Christianity.

Plenty of vitriol has already been spilled on the Thinking Anglicans web site. A couple of guys had a crack at Anglican Mainstream for being 'unrepresentative' claiming that the opinions expressed were neither 'Anglican' nor 'mainstream' when in fact it is these parochial trendies who are unrepresentative of the Anglican Communion, voting their way out of the universal church to which we profess allegiance in our creeds. It would be a disgrace if Dr Giddings were to be removed for telling the truth as he and others see it, especially when his only motive was to care for the 'honoured' minority whom the bishops ignored despite their previous assurances. His Synod speech can be read hereCanon Stephen Barney moves the motion: ‘That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House’. Canon Barney explains his reasons in a paper here. His reasons are ridiculous as indicated:

 His speech against the measure followed directly after Justin Welby’s and therefore I believe directly undermined what the Archbishop elect had said - What was the point in having a debate if the measure was to go through on the nod? The Archbishop elect is not infallible. The departing Archbishop said that members should vote according conscience so shouldn't Abp Rowan also be censured for undermining his successor?

 Since it was against it did not support the views of the House of Bishops as a whole - Why should it? The House of Bishops have shown themselves to be in hock to WATCH. They  are unrepresentative of the Anglican Communion as a whole and of the bishops of the Apostolic Church.

 Speaking as the Chair of our House his speech was instrumental in convincing some of the undecided members of the House to vote against - If the Chair of the House of Laity carried more weight than the Archbishops, bishops and clergy, why is that not the work of the Holy Spirit? The implication in this remark is that other members of the House are mindless idiots awaiting direction.

 I believe the speech was therefore a significant contributor to the reputational damage the Church of England is already suffering at the hands of the press, which is also manifest in the comments of the Prime Minister, the emerging reports of withdrawal of financial support, the angry reaction of church members and the disbelief and ridicule expressed by many of our secular friends, all of which I believe will damage the mission of our church - Any 'reputational damage' is solely attributable to the reaction of the ungracious losers who, let us not forget, just scraped the necessary majority for the ordination of women to the priesthood based on assurances given to those who opposed the measure consistent with the view of the Holy Catholic Church.

 The failure of the Measure is already giving momentum to the idea that the only likely solution now is a single clause Measure, which would result in a worse outcome for the minority groups than was on offer on Tuesday - How disingenuous can one get? The vote was NOT against women bishops, it was against the watered down 'provision' until it was meaningless, especially when considered against previous assurances. If a single clause measure results from this it will clearly demonstrate the hypocrisy of the movement to ordain women from the outset. It is clear that they want to rid Anglicanism of orthodoxy because it is an uncomfortable reminder that the liberal agenda they follow has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with secular fancy.

If the trendies had any honour they would agree provision acceptable to those for whom it is intended. Anything else is a cruel sham which will collapse the whole edifice if not properly addressed: "And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." 

Today comes the news that the Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops. Drawing ever closer to the failing Episcopal Church in the united States one has to ask how much confidence there can be in the absurd suggestion that the House of Bishops would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate. Read here of the promise made by the bishops of the Church in Wales when the Bill to allow women to be priests was passed. This was passed unanimously among the bishops following coercion, a process which continues today with intimidation of those opposed to the ordination of women. Among the signatories was Rowan Williams, then Bishop of Monmouth, who as Archbishop of Canterbury at least maintained the appearance of caring for all by continuing to appoint Provincial Episcopal Visitors while the then Bishop of Bangor, now the Archbishop of Wales and archliberal Dr Barry Morgan, along with his fellow bishops, has reneged on the undertaking given. Likewise the House of Bishops has reneged on their promise of an honoured place for 'traditionalists' in the Church of England. I suppose on that basis one could say that the bishops are undivided - except that they have excluded themselves from the rest of the Apostolic Church. Promises are made to be broken apparently.