Andrew Goddard reviews Brown+Woodhead's “That Was the Church That Was”:

The problems noted earlier in relation to Stott and evangelicals may have seemed minor details or differences in subjective interpretation but they are in fact signs of one of the book’s most fundamental weaknesses: regular basic inaccuracies. This is perhaps not surprising given the original print run had to be recalled because it contained at least one error so serious that it had to be removed to prevent a libel action. Nevertheless, the number and range of errors is astonishing. We are told that the Blair government (elected in 1997) passed legislation “in the early 1990s” (110), that a bishop saw events in 2007 as “God’s commentary on same-sex marriage” (128, although same-sex marriage was not introduced to Parliament until 2013) and that David Hope was Archbishop of York (149) when he described his sexuality as a “grey area” (although it was several months before that appointment when he was Bishop of London). In one place there is even the appearance of careful research when it is claimed that “the electors of the diocese of New Hampshire came to choose a new bishop in the summer of 2003 ”“ five years to the day after resolution I.10 was carried at Lambeth” (170) but the claim is false. The authors seem to have confused his election by the diocese ”“ which was in July, although they explicitly date it to August ”“ with its confirmation by the General Convention. In the short space of two pages (200-201) we find a crude caricature of the Anglican Covenant, a claim that FOCA later became GAFCON (when it was GAFCON that launched the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans) and a description of the decision in 1992 not to secure women bishops at the same time as women priests as an “odd half-measure”¦dreamt up as a way to respect the ”˜integrity’ of the different sides in the battle” when it was much more a matter of realpolitik ”“ given how hard it proved to secure a 2/3 majority even for women priests (as described in chpt 5, p. 86) to have included women bishops in the legislation as well would have been to ensure its defeat. Given such recurrent lapses of memory or poor research on matters of public record, the many often entertaining and scurrilous but unverifiable vignettes of personal experience frequently used to illustrate and support their picture of the CofE need to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

One comment on “Andrew Goddard reviews Brown+Woodhead's “That Was the Church That Was”:

  1. driver8 says:

    It was unfortunate that the book was published only after the death of the Rt Rev’d John Garton who was unkindly criticized in the chapter on Cuddesdon. Though one cannot libel the dead it’s worth saying that he was a good and faithful priest. If I think of him, I remember him on his knees praying in the chapel.

    I do recall him saying something like, “liberals must also kneel before the revelation”: a sentiment the book evidently does not share.