Ian Paul (Former Dean of Studies, Saint John's Nttngham) Why the bishops have done the right thing

Why do I think College of Bishops have made the right decision? Well, most obviously because their response to Pilling is exactly the one I said in November was needed. The reason for this is more and more evident in public responses, particularly on social media, from all sides of the debate.

On the one hand, many ”˜conservatives’ say that there is nothing to be done, and no need any further discussion. I don’t think this takes into account sufficiently the need for the Church of England to develop more credible pastoral response, taking into account what Justin Welby described as the revolution in attitudes within society on this issue.

On the other hand, many ”˜revisionists’ agree there is no need for further discussion, but for exactly the opposite reason. It is clear what God is doing in society, and the Church needs to catch up without any further delay. You can see this very clearly in the fulminating responses to yesterday’s announcement on the Thinking Anglicans website (was there ever more irony in a website name?).

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

4 comments on “Ian Paul (Former Dean of Studies, Saint John's Nttngham) Why the bishops have done the right thing

  1. BlueOntario says:

    I would venture that the comments to his post show the direction “facilitated discussions” will turn.

  2. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I also thought the comments were interesting, particularly this one by [Bishop] Alan Wilson, if it is correct:

    Ian, Historically (“what actually happened”), the meeting was not a policy making one, as was made clear in the invitation as well as on the day itself. It was just an opportunity for the House of Bishops to consider initial reactions to the Pilling report from the College of Bishops. The paragraph you quote was in the statement prepared before the meeting, and nobody suggested changing it during the meeting; indeed only two colleagues referred to it at all

    So, it seems the College of Bishops were presented with a pre-prepared statement which was passed as theirs, unless perhaps they were sufficiently prepared to object to it. That is why it reads as if it was written by Justin Welby [flourishing, conversations facilitated by him etc]….because it was. Perhaps it might be more correctly named ‘Justin Welby’s Statement read to the College of Bishops and rubber-stamped by them’.

    I can see clearly now.

  3. MichaelA says:

    Good point PM 🙂

    Anyway, I think Ian Paul is correct that the bishops could have said something a lot worse. They haven’t done anything to fix their problems, but neither have they put themselves further into the mire.

    In the meantime, those of strong convictions in the Church of England (whether liberal, orthodox or other) will continue to work at their own agendas….

  4. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Like MichaelA, I thank and commend PM for his perceptive observations. And I also agree that the HoB could’ve issued a statment that was far worse. But that is almost to damn with faint priase…

    Like Ian Paul, I continue to be amazed, and frustrated, and dismayed, that so few people, among the clergy and the laity, have done any serious reading on this highly contentious topic. Many people in the church remain astounding ignorant of even some of the basic facts and data, both biblical and scientific, that are essential to settling the dispute properly. But will “facilitated” conversations really help remedy that woeful situation?? I think not. A saying about ostriches and burying heads in the sand comes to mind. Or more to the point, perhaps, it seems disturbingly obvious that most Christians are more influenced by the general climate of opinion in society as a whole than by specifically Christian sources of information.

    Alas, it’s a general law of human nature that we all tend to take the course of least resistance, like water running downhill. And that fact bodes ill for the Church in an increasingly pluralistic, confused, and even post-Christian era, characterized by extreme permissiveness in matters of sexual behavior. It’s a decadent, antinomian ege that we live in, and the mass media are largely in the hands of our foes.

    In the end, I reject the whole premiss upon which the futile plan for holding facilitated conversations is based. Like Rowan Williams before him, Justin Welby suffers from the delusion that endless talking will accomplish something worthwhile, and that it’s a good and desirable thing to allow everyone to have their say on the topic, etc. Such an approach takes for granted that we’re dealing with a Romans 14 type of issue, where agreeing to disagree is not only possible but appropriate.

    But that is precisely to beg the question, and to assume the very thing that must be proven, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, when both Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition are so clear and consistent in their absolute condemnation of homosexual behavior.

    So let me again quote what I would propose as the most relevant NT text when it comes to the wearisome dispute that is tearing the CoE apart, just like it has already torn the whole worldwide Anglican Communion apart. It comes from the end of Romans, where Paul makes this extremely counter-cultural admonition that goes totally against the grain of modern, pluralistic culture:

    I appeal to you, brothers (and sisters), to take note of those who cause dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught. AVOID THEM. For such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the simple-minded.

    That’s Romans 16:17-18. And I think its relevance to our wretched turmoil within Anglicanism is all too plain. For Paul, it would’ve been unthinkable for church leaders in Rome to encourage the Judaizers to speak their minds freely. No, the Apostle wouldn’t want them to have any air time at all. Such heretics weren’t to be invited to present their ideas in an open debate; they were to be shunned. And because the “simple-minded” are easily deceived and led astray by smooth talkers, Paul would never go along with a plan like that proposed by the ABoC.

    Finally, it has to be said, those who publicly advocate the pro-gay agenda are aptly described by Paul here: such so-called progressives “do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ but their own (twisted and perverse sexual) appetites.” Sad, but true.

    David Handy+