Category : Church of England (CoE)

(1st Things) Carl Trueman–The Church of England’s Nietzschean Proposal

In a world of change and flux, it is reassuring to know that some things remain the same. Take, for example, the motion passed by the Church of England General Synod, calling for a liturgy to help transgender people celebrate their transitions. This motion is consistent with liberal Protestantism’s age-old calling, that of baptizing the moral norms du jour of the respectable chattering classes, presumably in hopes of enhancing the appeal of religion to its cultured despisers. Transgenderism was bound for liturgical acceptance.

By now, experience should have taught even the moderately self-aware that, where religion is concerned, cultural relevance is a cruel mistress, always promising the Church a place at her table but never quite delivering. Alas, self-awareness has never been the strong suit of those liberal Protestants who have perfected the art of always being belatedly in support of whatever nonsense the sexual revolution is now declaring a self-evident truth that only a hate-filled bigot would deny. And so we have this liturgical proposal which, as with all liturgies, tells us a lot about the General Synod’s understanding of its church’s purpose. It points toward a view of the Church as offering a religious idiom for the therapeutic concerns of modern Western society. So far, so conventional.

But the proposal is actually far more sinister than the usual capitulation to the latest sexual hobby-horse. What is missing in this doubtless well-intentioned move is any reflection upon the deeper philosophical implications of transgenderism. To treat it as yet one more legitimate human choice, which can be included in the pantheon of human freedoms, is to miss the real issue. Transgenderism challenges traditional notions of human personhood at the deepest level. For that reason, it is perhaps appropriate to recognize transgenderism in a liturgy: A liturgy reveals a church’s deepest beliefs as it articulates the dialogical relationship between a people and God, and thus dramatizes who they are in relationship to each other. For the Christian, liturgy presupposes identity. Indeed, the Christian liturgy legitimates identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Bishop Peter Selby: Hearing the cries of the abused

THOSE of us who once bore the responsibilities that now rest on the shoulders of our successors will be praying for them as they struggle with the issues raised by the in­­dependent review of the Peter Ball case, chaired by Dame Moira Gibb….

They have not only to respond to the individuals who rightly expect that there will be an outpouring of compassion, repentance, and care. Their responsibilities are made the graver because this report illumin­ates a culture: one in which we, their predecessors, were in our time com­plicit, and for which, therefore, we remain accountable. Our prayers for all who bear these responsib­ilities now need to be characterised by self-examination, and, in particu­lar, examination of the part that we played in forming the communal life of the Church.

Survivors do not really trust that the Church of England is capable of the depth of change that is needed, and they ask that we entrust safe­guarding issues to some external body — a request as understandable as it is shocking. Has the Church really come to a point where it has to rely on the wisdom of others to make it a safe place for its vulner­able and its children? It seems so.

It seems that we — not just the individuals who are named, but all who have ever played a part in the formation of this Church’s culture — have to ask ourselves how this culture of abuse and cover-up ever came to be. Those who are the victims and survivors of it imagine, plausibly enough, that we must have sensed the culture within which we were operating, and which we chal­lenged too little, if at all. What they are rightly asking is how we failed to name that culture and give to the remedying of it our fullest energy of heart and mind.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

More Response to C of E General Synod (II)–Jem Bloomfield: Morality and Message: The Church of England, Young People, and LGBT Issues

For Christians like me, who are deeply attached to the Scriptures and the traditions of the Church, and who find their spiritual life in the liturgy and sacraments, this is a troubling distortion. Our commitment to inclusivity is not a compromise we have made between our faith and the situation we find ourselves in, it is a central part of what that faith can reveal to modern society. If the situation continues, I am concerned that many people will understandably see our inclusivity as proving that we are only sort of Christian, since “serious” Christians have to discriminate against LGBT people whether they like it or not.

To sum up, I am deeply concerned that our current situation is preventing thousands upon thousands of young people from hearing the Gospel. I have met some of them personally, and I am fairly sure that they represent large swathes of people in the same age group and situation. This issue is getting in the way of their interest in Christianity and their view of the faith. This is not a question of fitting our Christian witness to what people want to hear, but of taking seriously the message of reconciliation and repentance at the heart of the Gospel. The objections I come across from many young people to the Church of England are not selfish, self-indulgent or shallow, they are profoundly moral and based on a rather Biblical notion of justice.

Sending out signals is hugely important, I have learned. During my first years as a lecturer I did not have many students coming to me for pastoral advice, but that increased significantly as soon as I spoke publicly, in lectures or on my blog, on questions to do with gender justice and inclusivity. I quickly discovered that there were a number of people who needed to talk about these issues, and who were in distress about them. But I only found that out because I first made it clear that I cared about these issues, and made it clear that I was a safe person to discuss them with.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

More Response to C of E General Synod (I)–Rob Munro: Radical Christian Inclusion…?

General Synod felt like it reached the watershed this last long weekend.

Superficially we did the usual things: passing obscure legal provisions – for example, giving official permission not to have to wear robes at main services (which I realise you all have done faithfully up until now); the valiant effort to put something to do with mission on the agenda – this time with workshops on various National Church Initiatives like Thy Kingdom Come and the soon-to-be-revamped National Website. We even had the obligatory “current affairs” motion, this time from the Archbishops following the surprises at the General Election, generally calling for more prayer and appropriate lobbying – although the Archbishop of York tried to bring a last minute radical suggestion that Christians voluntarily paid more tax to the government to fund health and education, which flew for as long as most lead balloons. There were signs that something was amiss early on, when rather non-controversial amendments to the Archbishops’ proposal, which aimed to strengthen statements with regard to biblical and gospel priorities, were lost – but unless the Archbishop had backed them, which he didn’t for reasons of ‘simplicity’, it is hard to get them passed.

However, the watershed came apparent from the other seemingly obligatory controversial agenda items. This time, on conversion therapy and transsexual liturgy. The motions themselves were both subtle – we are all against abusive therapies, and we are all for welcoming all people including transsexuals; but the innocuous additions to the proposals were clearly designed to do more. The subtlety is that “conversion therapy” is an ill-defined term – it can mean just specific professional counselling therapies, and it is legitimately debateable how effective they are in actually changing a person’s sexual orientation, but it could include merely praying with someone at their request to diminish an unwanted same-sex attraction. There was an excellent amendment put in by Sean Doherty of Living Out that achieved what the original motion seemed to ask for, but it was lost – the radical held sway over the Christian. Similarly in the debate about welcoming transsexuals in church, the Trojan horse there was in a request for liturgy to mark a person’s transition, because, as was said repeatedly framing the debate, “The Church does the work of God through liturgy!” Again, a reasonable amendment, giving clarity to the nuances, was rejected; and although the final motion only actually asks the House of Bishops to consider a new liturgy, and the Archbishop of York implied they probably wouldn’t do it, he ended the debate asking for a strong support for the motion, which they received – including the significant milestone of a more than 2/3 majority in each house, which is the bar that has to be met to change doctrine in future.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform UK, on the C of E General Synod–6 steps away from Biblical Christianity

In the space of four days, the General Synod of the Church of England have, in effect, rejected the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation, and our need for conversion and sanctification Instead we have said that we are ‘perfect’ as we are, or as we see ourselves, and that the Church should affirm us and call on God to validate our choices. No wonder we do not want to proclaim Christ’s unique identity and significance for all people.

We have chosen to understand the world through secular reports, unconscious bias training, the teaching of other religions and the results of polls and media headlines, rather than the unchanging word of God.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE)

(Church Times) C of E General Synod votes signal a shift in power, campaigners say

Two motions seeking changes in the pastoral care of LGBT people passed comfortably at the General Synod last weekend. The move is being taken as a sign that the next three years — set by the Bishops for the production of a new teaching document on same-sex relations — will not function as a moratorium on change.

Asked to endorse a statement signed by professional bodies con­demn­ing conversion therapy, mem­bers proved willing to go further, carrying an amended motion that called on the Government to ban the practice. A motion asking the House of Bishops to consider pro­­ducing a special liturgy to mark gender transi­tion was carried in all three Houses.

Although votes on amendments were closer, the final motions each passed by 127 to 48 in the House of Laity, where much of the opposition had been focused.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(Christian Today) The Church of England is in ‘grave spiritual danger’, warns Nigerian Archbishop Okoh

The leader of the Anglican Church in Nigeria has slammed the General Synod of the Church of England for ‘false teaching’ and is warning that it is in ‘grave spiritual danger’.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s attack follows the Synod’s decision to back a proposal for services marking new identities for transgender people.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Scottish Episcopal Church

(The Goodbook) Sam Allberry–Same sex relationships: should we just agree to disagree?

Not taking a side on this issue is to take a side. To decide it is a matter of indifference is to risk having Jesus against you. Read the description of him in Revelation 1 and consider if you would ever want to risk that Jesus being against you.

This is a gospel issue. When so-called evangelical leaders argue for affirmation of gay relationships in the church, I’m not saying they’re not my kind of evangelical, I’m saying they are no kind of evangelical. This is not an easy position to hold, for I have friends who hold to different views on this subject. But it is the right position to hold. For the five reasons given above, we must never allow ourselves to think of this as just another issue Christians are free to differ over.

This will inevitably bring faithful Christians into conflict with our culture. When John Stott first published Issues Facing Christians Today, he said:

“I have sought with integrity to submit to the revelation of yesterday within the realities of today. It is not easy to combine loyalty to the past with sensitivity to the present. Yet this is our Christian calling: to live under the Word in the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Unscripted Analysis of the recently completed Church of England General Synod

Watch it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE)

(Peter Ould) Did the C of E General Synod Tear up the Rules of Anglicanism?

Listen to it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology

(FT) Investors, including the C of E, shine spotlight on coal groups over climate change risk

The world’s largest coal mining companies need to show how they will reduce their carbon emissions to meet global climate targets under the Paris accord, according to an investor-backed group led by the Church of England.

Only two of the 20 largest listed coal companies — Rio Tinto and Brazil’s Vale — have long-term targets for reducing their emissions, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a coalition of investment funds with £4tn under management.

Three coal companies, DMCI Holdings, Inner Mongolia Yitai Coal, and Shougang Fushan Resources Group, do not even acknowledge climate change, the study said. The report comes after the Paris climate change agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels came into effect last November.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Christian Today) Christian woman raised in Iran is to become a Bishop in the C of England

Born in Isfahan, Iran, Guli’s family was among those forced to leave the country in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1980, when she was just 14. She attended Nottingham and Bristol Universities and was ordained in 1998, serving in Southwark diocese. Among other positions, Guli was Chaplain to the Royal Academy of Music in London for 2 years.

‘I had quite an unusual upbringing, I think it’s fair to say,’ she says in a video recorded by the church. ‘I grew up very much between and betwixt a number of different worlds I think. Obviously Iran is primarily a Muslim country and that was our wider context.’ At school she was the only Christian in an entirely Muslim environment, but at home she was immersed in the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh–The Gafcon Chairman’s July 2017 letter

Chicago was therefore a foretaste of what we can expect in Jerusalem as we gather in June 2018 on the tenth anniversary of the founding of this great movement and the publication of the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. Our theme is ‘Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations’ and invitations will be going out this month. We look forward with great eagerness to another wonderful gathering as we come together in true communion under the Word of God and in the power of the Spirit of God.

As a global family we do not want any to be excluded through lack of resources. We are looking to fund some bursaries for those in real need and I urge those of us who are materially blessed, whether as provinces, dioceses, parishes or individuals, to be generous so that our fellowship will not be hindered.

Gafcon began in 2008 as what my predeccesor, Archbishop Peter Akinola, described as a ‘rescue mission’ for the Anglican Communion. That rescue was not limited to North America. There is still much to do because history is repeating itself in other parts of the world, as the recent capitulation of the Scottish Episcopal Church to secular ideas about marriage has demonstrated.

False teaching is restless and relentless, and the Church of England itself is in grave spiritual danger. It is much to be regretted that there has been far more concern about alleged ‘boundary crossing’ than about the contempt of God’s Word that made a missionary bishop necessary. In fact, the Bishop of Edinburgh, who has strongly supported the Scottish Episcopal Church’s adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ was invited as a guest of honour to the Church of England’s July General Synod meeting.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Marriage & Family, Missions, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology, Theology: Scripture

C of E General Synod debates cost of applying for citizenship

The cost of applying for citizenship in the UK is too high, unfair, and risks undoing the work of integration, General Synod was told today.

…[Yesterday] morning’s debate highlighted the issues faced by those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK who face a prohibitive cost – currently £1,282 for each adult – to apply for citizenship. Those who do not apply for citizenship but have indefinite leave to remain cannot vote in elections, have more limited travel options and cannot take up their full civic responsibilities, despite paying tax.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Politics in General

New Bishop of Loughborough announced as Canon Guli Francis-Dehqani

Canon Guli Francis-Dehqani currently leads Curate Training in the Diocese of Peterborough. She is also Adviser for Women’s Ministry for the diocese, a Canon at Peterborough Cathedral, and sits on the Church of England’s governing body, the General Synod.

The post of Bishop of Loughborough is new for the Church of England. The motion applying to Her Majesty The Queen to create the See was only passed by General Synod in February 2017.

As the first Bishop of Loughborough Guli will take a full role in the work of the Church across Leicester and Leicestershire, but the post will also have a focus on supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) clergy, lay workers and congregations in the county.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops