In our supposedly “secular” culture, the Church of England seems to have succumbed to the idea that theological ideas do not matter very much, and this may bespeak a deeper malaise even than the current crisis itself. Young people are turning back to the Church, longing for spiritual and intellectual bread; by and large stones await them, even despite a most promising new generation of young priest-scholars (women and men) who are beginning to rise through the ecclesial ranks. Perhaps in a generation things will be different.
But for the moment the Church has in effect signed its own theological death warrant. At the end of this summer, amid a new storm of fury about a confused conservative amendment to the Measure (astonishingly backed by both Archbishops to placate the defectors), I was invited to address the House of Bishops on “the theology of women bishops.” I made the following three points, and stand by them:
we cannot compromise on the historic theology of the bishop as locus of unity;
we must return afresh to our distinctively Anglican notions of reason and tradition to solve this crisis, not lapse into rational incoherence; and
we must resist in the Church the supervenience of bureaucratic thinking (with all its busy political pragmatism) over theological and spiritual seriousness.
I offer here just a brief further expansion on each of these points.