An FT Magazine Piece on the Church of England

Looking round the Minster, I wondered if the highly sophisticated and intelligent people reciting the Creed really believed everything they were saying. Everyone was in full voice; I failed to spot anyone with their fingers crossed. But the answer seemed to be: not exactly.

“What we’re doing is identifying back to a distant past,” explained Michael Sadgrove, the Dean of Durham. “When we say he descended to Hell, I think, if people identify with it at all, they’re identifying with a tradition. The Latin for Nicene Creed is Symbolum Nicaenum. And I think these statements of faith have a symbolic function.

“I don’t think the way to understand them is to dissect them clause by clause. The fundamental of Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Christians will argue for ever about how you put boundaries round that.” It was a former bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, who most clearly, and controversially, articulated the revisionist view of gospel truth. His heirs are more circumspect but not necessarily in major disagreement.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

14 comments on “An FT Magazine Piece on the Church of England

  1. John A. says:

    [blockquote] The benchmark for this approach is the west London church of Holy Trinity, Brompton (so famous it’s known as HTB), which is in a totally different league. This is the birthplace of the Alpha courses in basic Christianity, reputedly attended by two and a half million people in Britain alone over the past two decades, and 15 million worldwide. Alpha reaches way beyond Anglicanism to places cream teas and donkeys cannot reach.

    HTB operates with complete propriety inside the Church of England but there is about it just the teeniest whiff of a cult. There are worse dating agencies for the young, lost and lonely in the city. It offers them fellowship and a degree of certitude. The rest of the Church looks on with a mixture of admiration, jealousy and wariness. “They do very good work,” says one observer. “But they grip you a bit too firmly by the hand, their teeth are a bit too white and their smile a bit too wide.”[/blockquote]

    The bottom line is we need to agree on what truths really matter and then we need to act as if our lives depended on them.

    ( … and yes, that is a non sequitur to quote above)

  2. David Keller says:

    Goodness, that was long. I shouldn’t have read it all, but it was fascinating. It is a crystal clear picture of a church beyond decline and in free fall to institutional death. TEC is close behind.

  3. Sarah says:

    An article written by someone who is just a little too hopeful that all of this “Christian religious stuff” — particularly the “extreme” stuff like belief in the creeds — will die out. That hopefulness from the writer, plus the errors [um, for instance, members of Reform are NOT considering Rome — that’s a bit like saying that the members of the PCA are considering Rome], pretty much ruins the point of the article for me — I just can’t buy his interpretation of the fate of the church, as a result.

    As nearly as I can see, the hope for the COE lies in its massive money problems. As a result, the successful and therefore wealthier parts of the church — you know, the ones the writer of this piece doesn’t like — get far freer reign to start up new churches and renovate old ones.

    That’s one of the HUGE differences between TEC and the COE — the latter has been more practical about what’s successful and what’s not. In TEC, they hope to depose and scourge clergy and/or bishops who are successful [ie — Mark Lawrence]. In the COE they don’t — yet — and even allow them to replant and restart defunct churches.

  4. Terry Tee says:

    Utterly depressing to read once more what I have heard said by too many Anglican clergy, namely that the creed has ‘symbolic value’. Further depressed to read a feminist leader in the CoE repeating that canard that the Church in 16th C Germany debated whether women were human. Utter nonsense of course – you can find the details here:

  5. Formerly Marion R. says:

    “When we say he descended to Hell, I think, if people identify with it at all, they’re identifying with a tradition”

    Suspending rationality to identify with a tradition. That’s been tried before, about 70 years ago.

  6. Formerly Marion R. says:

    Terry Tee- The canard itself arises from the widespread reading of [i]Crime and Punishment[/i], which includes [url=”is+woman+human”&source=bl&ots=BOTDT7ByAu&sig=QRWzcTM-u6plhU9Tn7fQLvXu0_A&hl=en&ei=eLs6TprNMOj50gHdud3uAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f;=false] this moving passage[/url], a referent to the event you describe, via a sort of [i]roman a clef[/i].

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I didn’t think it was a bad article; indeed quite interesting, and well if he did poke a bit of fun at us, and insist on visiting the locked cupboard in the tower where we keep the bodies of those such as David Jenkins the past episcopal embarrassment and Christina Rees, the current American embarrassment, to get infantile and vacuous quotes, well who can blame him?
    [blockquote]Christina Rees, a lay member of the Archbishops’ Council: “There are very few Anglicans who believe that God zaps planet Earth when there are a few too many gay orgies.”[/blockquote]

    Moreover, I am thankful that at least one journalist from a financial paper thinks that his readers might be interested in reading about the Church of England and is prepared to venture across the Watford Gap to attend our York Synod.

    Reports of our death however….are premature.

  8. 7DRR says:

    Since it was brought up, that statement in the Creed about Jesus descending into hell has always puzzled me but I’m a complete novice to the faith. According to the Baltimore Catechism Jesus didn’t acually descend into hell but was in limbo. Is this what Anglicans believe?

  9. Milton says:

    7DRR, I have read two probable legitimate interpretations for the Creed’s statement that Jesus descended into Hell. The first is a mistranslation of the Hebrew [i]sheol[/i], which means the grave, as Hell. Jesus obviously descended into the grave after death. The other interpretation refers to 2 Peter 3:18-20, which says that after His crucifixion and death that Jesus, “in the spirit … went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah…” Presumably those disobedient spirits were in Hades.

  10. 7DRR says:

    Thanks Milton! That’s interesting and gives me (even more) to try and comprehend.

  11. Terry Tee says:

    7DRR, this is sometimes interpreted (I think helpfully) to speak of all those who died before Christ came, and who therefore had no chance to respond to his message. They too can claim salvation through him.

  12. TomRightmyer says:

    The Descent into Hell has been a problem for some for many years, thus the permitted emendation in the American Prayer Book to “place of departed spirits.” I understand it to mean that the saving grace of Jesus cannot be limited, and to witness to the truth of 2 Peter 2 cited above.

  13. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “But the issue that really convulses the modern church, almost obsesses it, is that of homosexuality. It isn’t a secret that a lot of the clergy are gay: Stephen Bates, in his book A Church at War , guesstimated the figure, in cities anyway, at 20 to 25 per cent.” [/blockquote]
    Yeah, right.

    It is a standard tactic of the gay lobby to massively overestimate its numbers.

    I am glad to see that the journalist at least cites his source (many journalists don’t bother), admits that it is a “guesstimate”, and allows the rider “at least in cities”.

    I don’t know any figures for anglo-catholics, but orthodox evangelicals in CofE have been providing a large number of candidates for ordination (many to the cities) over the past decade. The vast majority of these men and women who are now priests and deacons are strongly opposed to homosexual practice. Then there are many non-evangelical clergy who appear to be in stable marriages. I just don’t see how it can be anything like 20-25%. Sounds like LGBT wishful thinking.

  14. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “In TEC, they hope to depose and scourge clergy and/or bishops who are successful [ie—Mark Lawrence]”.

    The problem is not that they are successful, the problem is that they don’t espouse THE AGENDA and are successful. In fact, they are MORE successful than those who espouse THE AGENDA, thus making the AGENDA LOVERS look bad and be wrong, despite all the polluted untrue spin to the contrary.

    And I’ve met bishops who refuse to help churches with their congregational development, simply because said churches don’t agree with THE AGENDA. Isn’t that special–not helping a Christian church evangelize for the simple reason that the church upholds traditional Christian beliefs. Huh?!! Perhaps the C of E is not up to mindless, counterproductive vindictiveness like that yet; I hope and pray it never is.