Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Church of England is not a church of privilege, but of obligation


Here we go again. Someone in high authority (in this instance, the Prime Minister) happens to mention that the United Kingdom is a "Christian country", and then mounts a defence (of sorts) of the constitutional establishment of the Church of England, and out they crawl from under every stone and slither out of the crumbling timbers of the disintegrating religio-political edifice - an entire tribulation of trolling disestablishmentarianists, who posit (with varying degrees of socio-politico-ecclesio-theological comprehension) that both Church and State would benefit from the severing of the union which has bound them since England's kings in ancient times first responded to the gospel of salvation and pledged to govern these islands in accordance with the lively oracles of God.

And so we have Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg:
More generally speaking, about the separation of religion and politics. As it happens, my personal view - I’m not pretending this is something that’s discussed in the pubs and kitchen tables of Britain - but my personal view is that, in the long-run, having the state and the church basically bound up with each other, as we do in this country, is, in the long run...I actually think it would be better for the church and better for people of faith, and better for Anglicans, if the church and the state were to, over time, stand on their own two separate feet, so to speak. But that’s not going to happen overnight, for sure.
..supported by the National Secular Society:
"At last, we have a high profile politician have the courage to say that separating church and state would be a good idea. None of the others dare say it, although it is quite clear that the time has come to do it."
..supported by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams:
"I grew up in a disestablished Church; I spent ten years working in a disestablished Church; and I can see that it's by no means the end of the world if the Establishment disappears. The strength of it is that the last vestiges of state sanction disappeared, so when you took a vote at the Welsh Synod, it didn't have to be nodded through by parliament afterwards. There is a certain integrity to that."
..supported by the Rev'd Giles Fraser:
"The problem with establishment is not that I think it's bad for the country - I think it might be actually quite good for the country - I think it's bad for the church. And I think it's bad for the church for us to be so close to the establishment. We sort of cosy-up to the establishment and it blunts our message. And I think that's the problem - we're not free to be the church because we're too close to the powers that be, and we quite like being too close to the powers that be."
And on the other side is, well.. no-one in particular. But the Prime Minister made a sterling effort:
"No I don’t want to see (disestablishment). I think our arrangements work well in this country. As I’ve said before, we’re a Christian country, we have an established church, and being a Christian country, I find other faith leaders and members of other faiths say that it makes us almost more understanding, more tolerant, more understanding of the role that faith and religion plays in our country. And actually, faith organisations do an enormous amount in terms of supporting schools, supporting charities, helping to build what I call the bigger society. So I don’t want to see what the Deputy Prime Minister has set out, it’s a long-term liberal idea but not a Conservative one."
Those who oppose the Anglican Settlement often tend to talk in terms of outdated notions of "religious privilege" - of the "anachronism" of the Head of State being Supreme Governor of the Church of England; of the "unwarranted interference" in our system of government; of 26 "unelected" bishops in the House of Lords; of "exclusive" prayers before each session of Parliament; or of the "religious discrimination" in church schools.

In their obsession with privilege, they ignore the Church of England's social obligation and its contribution to the common good. Even the Rev'd Giles Fraser acknowledges that establishment "might be actually quite good for the country".

The Church of England has always struggled with the tension between affirmation of the gospel and assimilation to the prevailing culture; between transformation and inculturation. Establishment commits the Church to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications. These cannot easily be reduced to soundbites, tweets, neat headlines or trite blogposts: profound matters demand profound contemplation and an articulation which does them justice.

We are no longer in an age - if ever we were - where the Archbishop of Canterbury can impose a morality or a doctrine of God. His primary role is not to assert any kind of "privilege", but to declare the Good News of salvation. And intrinsic to that is the acutely political function of calling the state to account by obstinately asking the Government about its accountability and the justification of its priorities. He might sometimes have to be a thorn in the Prime Minister's side; he might even have to be stealthy in his applied wisdom and occasionally infuriating to his flock. But that is because his duty is that of service to God in submission to "the powers that be", for whom he prays, as he is commanded, that they might govern with justice and righteousness.

And in that holy obligation lies the essence of the Church of England. Its proven and dedicated commitment to the common good and its contribution to the maintenance of the peace and security of the State outweighs any secular scruple, grievance or objection.

49 Comments:

Blogger Paul Perrin said...

The CofE is the Labour party at (insincere, pretend) prayer.

It is a great shame that it is no longer fit to be the established church - but that is entirely its own doing.

It stand for nothing and means nothing. Christianity woud be better of it if didn't simply disestablish, but completely disappeared.

26 April 2014 at 12:01  
Blogger Len said...

The dilemma here seems to be do we Christians stay aboard 'the SS Secular Humanist ' steaming towards the ice berg telling those on board that they are heading for disaster or do we separate ourselves and try to preach from a different pulpit.By remaining on board do we not give the illusion that we are in agreement with those directing this ill fated ship?.
There is an ever widening gulf between this atheistic world system and Christian morality and ethics and when this world system goes down[which it inevitably will]people will question why Christians were still on board.

26 April 2014 at 12:29  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The point about "the common good" needs to be projected and explained, often and more powerfully. The Queen does this very well. It is not a difficult idea to explain. It is rooted deeply in the nation after such a long immersion in Christian ideas dominating the public square. But the powerful want, for their own selfish reasons, to kill it.

I do believe that the man/woman in the street still responds to the idea of the "common good", but the problem is that in an age in which the so called cultural and political elites, the media and political establishment, embrace relativism, and project it so vigorously and powerfully, the multi cult "doctrine" being an expression of this, the concept of the "common good" has faded from public view. Also so few have a clear grasp of the Christian origins of so much that is still held precious, like the NHS or free public schooling for all etc. The media generally deliberately play down the Christian heritage, as they either seek to airbrush it out or simply fail to see it.

Cameron to be fair to him does have an instinctive grasp of the idea, which is why he pushed his "Big Society " idea. But he also acts in a contradictory way sometimes, because he is a confused thinker, and not in the least strategic, only acting tactically for party political advantage.

The nation may be going through a period of asking itself what it is, what it believes in and where it is going. This may help explain, in part, the rise of Ukip ? Certainly I sense that many people realize that much is wrong at present and they probably see the incessant, intolerant attacks on Christianity generally and the C of E particularly as part of that process of trying to strip the nation of any sense of identity and direction. The debate may be very useful in stimulating a national soul searching which is a necessary prerequisite for correcting mistakes and taking a new tack in a more constructive direction. We can hope, pray and work for that to happen.

26 April 2014 at 12:45  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

There is a certain irony when Giles Fraser declares that the CofE being established blunts it's message, given that he seeks to blunt the message on a regular basis!
It is sad that we have not seen any comment from the Bishop of London who, given his links to the Royal family, would almost certainly, be a staunch antidisestablishmentarianist.

26 April 2014 at 13:23  
Blogger Albert said...

I think Giles Fraser is talking sense. There is a loss to the Church of establishment (although Youthpasta makes an important point). Society probably benefits from the establishment of the CofE. It's quite a Christian dilemma for the CofE. Staying in the establishment is bad for the Church but good for society. Is the establishment therefore an act of sacrifice and holy obligation for the Church, as Dr C puts it, or something that is undermining the role of the Church? These are very difficult issues, and one hopes that action would not be taken to disestablish the CofE without them being discussed carefully. One fears that sectarian secularism will just overthrow it all without discussion.

26 April 2014 at 13:30  
Blogger Nath said...

I have come to the same position as Rev. Giles.

Via establishment we treat everyone as though they are brothers or sisters in Christ and this simply isn't accurate. Yes we love our neighbours as ourselves but our mission is one preaching reconciliation and living in unity with our siblings. How can we live in unity with those whom we are supposed to preach reconciliation?

What right have we to impose church discipline via the establishment link on those who are not brethren? We don't and because we don't we never bother exercising any discipline on anyone.

We spend our money on the nation, believing it is the church, whilst leaving those who profess Christ crucified to languish hungry and malnourished.

Jesus taught, let the dead bury the dead... yet via establishment the dead are our sisters and treated by the church effectively as those who are alive in Christ?

But what has light to do with the darkness, we may ask; what has the living to do with the dead?

And whilst the state benefits from our giving, social action, prayer and care, we are being hollowed out.

I am in principle in favour of establishment with a state of goodwill and broad Christian belief but that is not what the British state is. Those nominal Christians that never attend church rarely believe in the divinity of Christ, the existence of sin, need for repentance & salvation and just about never partake of the Eucharist. They may believe in fate or even some kind of deistic god and identify with Christian values but this is not Christianity: it is a neo-pagan belief system synchretistic with Christian morality.

26 April 2014 at 13:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Disestablishment is an inevitability because the leadership of the CoE is tacking to the culture instead of proclaiming the Gospel. That means the Church part of the CoE is going to leave. What remains will not be sufficient to financially sustain the bureaucracy. You can't very well have an established church of twenty bishops and their retainers even as the countryside is littered with vacant parishes.

We in the west have largely internalized our place in the evolutionary order and that order doesn't leave room for God. Sure the theistic evolutionists mount a brave rear guard action but they seek to graft theology onto a concept that exists solely to explain the non-existence of God. It's a losing effort and people see right through it. God was first reduced to a non-essential curiosity, and then to a philosophical abstraction, and finally to a malignant fantasy designed to facilitate control of other peoples' lives. Man is sovereign now. God is dead and no amount of theistic evolutionary doubletalk will pull Him out of His grave.

And yet Western man - morally exhausted, terrified of the future, retreating into hedonistic excess simply to avoid thinking about it all - longs for that which he has lost. The Brave new world isn't so brave after all. He will cling to images of a receding past like a man clings to a father's coffin and resists closing the lid for the last time. Not because his father is dead but because he fears he has lost something essential about himself. And he can never get it back.

The purveyors of the new Secular religion stand by the coffin and rejoice. "The CoE is dead. Long live the new CoE." But the average person will feel the dread of an angst that he will never quite be able to identify.

The king, you see, is dead. And there is none to take his place. What then will become of us?

carl

26 April 2014 at 13:46  
Blogger Anglican said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 April 2014 at 14:08  
Blogger Anglican said...

I sometimes think that disestablishment might be a good thing for the CofE. But there is a big downside. The monarchy would go quite soon afterwards – monarchy in this country has been essentially a religious institution for well over a thousand years. I cannot see it surviving without its Christian foundations. This may happen in any case of course. In this week’s newsletter of Christian Concern is a sobering article on how the West, in less than a generation, has re-paganised itself – see the article by Peter Jones: it is essential reading. http://www.reformation21.org/

26 April 2014 at 14:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

But what is the common good, and who decides how we pursue it?

26 April 2014 at 14:45  
Blogger Len said...

Perhaps the only solution for the crisis that Humanity is facing is for secular humanists and religious extremists to totally have their way and to drag the rest of humanity down with them in their experiment of a Christ less society?. Have the lessons of Communism and religious extremism taught us nothing?. This seems to be the pattern of History which goes in cycles.
Then there will be those who call out[eventually] to God for his solution (which is Jesus Christ) and a few will get saved and the rest will curse God and blame Him for the consequences that they will inevitably reap from their reckless and foolhardy actions.
It would seem that there is no other way as man seems unable to learn from history or the experiences of past civilizations.

26 April 2014 at 14:47  
Blogger Manfarang said...

...church leaders say that the separation they feared has been a blessing. "I think we all see a stronger sense of commitment now," said Pastor David Olson of St. Jacob's Church in Stockholm. "People realize it's up to them to maintain our churches, not the government.

"Leading up to this," Olson continued, "everybody said, 'People are going to leave the church in droves.' But just about everybody who was a church member stayed with us."

This is not to say that lots of people show up at church on Sunday morning; that's not the Swedish way. "It's a secular society," shrugged Olson, who routinely preaches before three dozen people in an imposing old church that seats 900. "People don't go to Mass. They don't even know how to go. They call me up and say, 'Do I need to reserve a seat for Sunday morning?' "

Still, the church has traditionally played a key role in Swedish life. "People go at the special times: Advent Sunday, Christmas, Easter and baptisms, weddings, funerals," said the Rev. Christina Berglund, the church's director of parish development. "The Church of Sweden is strongly rooted in people's consciousness. They feel an attachment to the church building itself in their hometown, and to its graves."

Particularly in smaller towns, the church building tends to be a community center, serving as meeting hall, theater, nursery school and finish line for the ski races that fill the dark winters of rural Scandinavia.

26 April 2014 at 15:23  
Blogger Manfarang said...

This event,(Irish Church Disestablishment)hailed at the time as a triumph for Dissenters of all creeds and classes, was in reality the greatest blow which Dissent in Ireland had ever sustained.By removing any ground for active opposition and placing the Episcopalian and the erewhile Dissenter on an equality, the way was paved for the ambitious Presbyterian to pass over easily into the ranks of the more fashionable church.
(p79 A Short History of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland by John Campbell Belfast 1914)

26 April 2014 at 15:48  
Blogger Shadrach said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 April 2014 at 17:34  
Blogger Nath said...

@carl jacobs.

Please don't write of theistic evolution, I think this or something close to it is the truth.

It is how I came to faith, an actual act of God's revelation.

I remember sitting in an A-level biology class, I remember where in the room and remember what we were learning about. We'd just completed a course in evolution, which was totally uncontentious, me probably being a theistic atheist (if that can make sense). And the teacher had just taught us that the lock and key hypothesis of enzyme / protein interaction was wrong and that it was actually an adaptive fit: which depended on the incredible specificity of the molecular bonds.

In a moment I suddenly saw the evolutionary history of the earth - not in detail but in broad sweep - and it was the hand of God that was driving / guiding / behind it. I suddenly knew God was real and evolution was his work.

This started a search for faith which ultimately brought me to Jesus.

26 April 2014 at 17:36  
Blogger Shadrach said...

There is a conflict for those of the old tradition that do not want to see change and the circumstances of present day leadership in the church and the leadership at Westminster.

There are virtually no Christians of faith at Westminster now, unlike the old days. Likewise, there are few Christians in the church leadership, so they can't bring any discipline to effect because they don't know what is right or wrong.

There are some really good evangelical churches that don't need the hierarchy, but the hierarchy needs them.

It would be sad to see disestablishment since the church should hold some sway over parliament and they have been historically linked for almost forever.

Ultimately the problems lie with the church for not preaching the Gospel in an effective way.

I wonder how many of the Bishops have been through the fiery furnace?

26 April 2014 at 17:38  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

It's noticeable that all the communists/socialists and atheists are ardent supporters of disestablishment. So, why should unbelievers have any say in this matter; after all, they are in the minority and if they don't like it there's a whole world out there for them to chose from.

26 April 2014 at 18:39  
Blogger Flossie said...

I would be very interested to know ALL the ramifications of disestablishment. The Church of England is so deeply embedded in the Nation's DNA, I wonder if it can ever be really unravelled.

Would people be so keen to disestablish if they found out what would be lost? Would every Englishman still be entitled to baptisms, weddings and funerals in their parish church? Would they be able to regard it as somewhere to go in times of trouble? What would happen to Cathedrals? What would happen to the Royal Peculiars? What would happen to the Queen? What would it all cost?

I would love to see some serious research on this.

26 April 2014 at 18:59  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

jic: "So, why should unbelievers have any say in this matter; after all, they are in the minority and if they don't like it there's a whole world out there for them to chose from."

This why some of us are keen to make sure religionists don't get their former power over society back. Authoritarianism is waiting in the shadows, wanting to return to the bad old days. We need to remember the lessons of our history and not let society get dragged back down.

26 April 2014 at 20:03  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

Sure the theistic evolutionists mount a brave rear guard action but they seek to graft theology onto a concept that exists solely to explain the non-existence of God.

I find that statement absolutely staggering. Surely, if classical theism is true, it follows, that, as St Paul says "from him are all things". Therefore, the existence of all things, with all their properties and powers are utterly dependent on the continuous creative power of God in every moment. It follows that God is equally the cause of things that happen whether they happen naturally (e.g. what science describes) or supernaturally (a miracle). Thus it seems to me that you can only speak of God being "grafted" onto something if you have left off believing the classical doctrine of creation. To speak of God being grafted on is to speak of process (or concept of that process) that exists without God, and that is paganism. At best, it is Medieval univocalism - a corruption of the doctrine of God.

a concept that exists solely to explain the non-existence of God

Augustine had a concept of evolution in the 5th Century! On the other hand, Darwin thought evolution was perfectly consistent with God - indeed, his last word on the subject was that he was a theist and had never been an atheist.

26 April 2014 at 20:26  
Blogger Albert said...

John in Cheshire,

I think atheists atc. must have a say in the establishment of the CofE (or otherwise). It's their state too, and this is a democracy. What I object to, is their self appointed assumption that everything must be adapted to suit them. It's an extreme form of authoritarian sectarianism.

26 April 2014 at 20:28  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

jic: "It's noticeable that all the communists/socialists and atheists are ardent supporters of disestablishment."

Also, I expect many a-theists are also liberals in the classical sense, and liberals advocate a structure that protects minorities. We're lovely and fluffy like that. Of course, active members of the CofE are very much a minority too, numbering about a million or so, and have religious rights as individuals in the ECHR that we support.

26 April 2014 at 20:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Interesting and relevant poll just published on the Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10790495/Former-archbishop-of-Canterbury-We-are-a-post-Christian-nation.html

Who knows what someone self-identifying as a non-practising Christian really is in reality.

26 April 2014 at 20:58  
Blogger IanCad said...

The separation of state from church.

We've been here many times on this blog.

The arguments for it, IMO are strong.

A more robust church. Less chance of religious zealots legislating.

That said, the CofE is a remarkable institution that I can't quite get my head around.

In principle I support disestablishment, might even advocate for it.

But, if crunch time comes, I will admit, I hope things stay the same.

26 April 2014 at 21:01  
Blogger Albert said...

IanCad,

You speak very well for the paradox of the situation - I can certainly identify with what you say!

26 April 2014 at 21:23  
Blogger graham wood said...

"intrinsic to that is the acutely political function of calling the state to account by obstinately asking the Government about its accountability and the justification of its priorities."

This is the weakest in an uncharacteristically weak argument from Cranmer to retain the status and privilege of the C of E.
Please tell us - when has the C of E at any point actually called any government to "accountability"? Likewise the Church cannot in reality compel the government to change its priorities one iota. (SSM is a case in point - there are many others)
The C of E is a historical anachronism dating from the Elizabethan Settlement which has no relevance to a true description or functioning of a New Testament concept of the church of Christ.
Many of the objections to the C of E voiced by the Puritans and non conformists ever since remain valid, unchallenged, and requiring urgent answers which have not been seriously faced by the religious establishment.
What are these?
Its entrenched institutionalism,
its patronage by the secular State, the existence of a professional "clergy" divided as they are from the artificial concept of the "laity".
The C of E is institutionally resistant to reform- doctrinally and in her ecclesiology.
In its present form the denomination stands as a perpetual barrier to every major New Testament principle of government and practice.
Let us be honest - the C of E has never since the Reformation grappled in any depth with a NT doctrine of the church.
Whilst I do not identify with Giles Fraser, he is right on one point, namely, that disestablishment would enable the church to pursue its (original) mission free from political and constitutional ties which now need to be severed.

26 April 2014 at 21:29  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

graham wood, what you really object to is an Apostolic Church with a sacramental system. This is "a NT doctrine of the church". Are Northern Ireland and Scotland more spiritually vibrant for not having an established church and for being Presbyterian in structure?

You may be right or wrong about the Church of England being too close to the state and lacking in moral authority, but this is a different issue. Another perspective is that it cannot speak with authority because its own members are so divided and it does not speak consistently with one voice on matters of faith and morals. Perhaps greater emphasis on Apostolic succession and the authority of the church's leadership and its teachings is the answer - not the problem.

27 April 2014 at 00:53  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Flossie
"I would be very interested to know ALL the ramifications of disestablishment. The Church of England is so deeply embedded in the Nation's DNA, I wonder if it can ever be really unravelled."
Reform it from a state church to a national church as in Sweden.
In that way it would have its independence and it would have a role in wider society.

27 April 2014 at 03:36  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

The purpose of creation is to unambiguously reveal the Creator as the necessary first cause. To look at creation is to see the power and glory of God. It is so obvious that men must suppress the truth in order to avoid the inevitable conclusion.

Now the theistic evolutionist says "Yeah, we were wrong about everything you can see. But we are still right about everything you can't see." The mechanism you postulate is identical in every way to the mechanism envisioned by the atheists who visit this sight. You simply assert a hidden divine guidance to the process. The atheist knows he needs a causal force behind evolution. He knows he hasn't the first clue what that causal force might be. But he has no reason to attribute it to a divine will.

You are retreating into a safe argument about philosophy having already admitted that the entire process is immanent. You are admitting that man can look at creation and not see the power and glory of God. He can simply see this immanent process that has no necessary connection to God. Now you might say "By faith it may be seen." But that doesn't align with Scripture. It requires no faith to see God's power and glory. It requires willful unbelief to suppress the truth having once seen it.

Evolution provides a (nominally) coherent explanation for existence in the absence of God. Every atheist who trundles onto this site testifies to this fact. He says "I can explain things rationally without resort to magic thinking. God is how we used to explain things we didn't understand. Now we understand. We don't need to appeal to God to answer the question 'Why are we here?' "

You say "The mechanism is correct but what is the causal force?" And he responds "We don't know but it's not God. Where is the evidence for Him? It's certainly not creation because you have already admitted that the physical universe can be explained by immanent process. And you have already admitted you were wrong about special creation, so why exactly should I listen to you? "

It's a losing argument. You chucked the Creator as necessary cause out the front door and now you are trying to sneak him back into the frame via the rear window. It won't work. He is the obvious self-evident first cause or He is nothing. He is manifestly not the hidden hand behind the probability curve because that hidden hand would not unambiguously testify to God as creator. In fact His hand is not hidden at all.

carl

27 April 2014 at 06:02  
Blogger graham wood said...

Happy jack. In reply, it depends on how one defines what you call "Apostolic church".
Of necessity it would refer to a church which adheres to Apostolic doctrine in its structure, teaching and practice.
This the. C of E does not .

27 April 2014 at 08:32  
Blogger James said...

The CofE has only a few shreds of credibility left. But when Brenda shuffles off this mortal coil, and is replaced as Supreme Governor by a serial adulterer who believes all roads lead to God on the basis of a conversation he had with his cucumbers... well, you can see where this is going.

Disestablishment cannot come soon enough.

27 April 2014 at 08:38  
Blogger graham wood said...

Flossie. You ask a very interesting question!
Time fails to discuss all the ramifications, but one thing is certain - that Christians would be free once again from the dead hand of man's tradition as seen in all the main western church denominations.
When Jesus declared "I will build MY church" he was not referring to any denominational structures.
As for who would carry out all the functions you mention - the marking of births, deaths, marriages, & etc, well millions of Christians all over the globe do so without any contact with such religious denominations.
One does not need a clerical hierarchy to either worship God, or to meet together as Christians in church gatherings in the New Testament pattern shown to us by Christ and the apostles.

27 April 2014 at 08:54  
Blogger IanCad said...

Graham Wood @ 21:29 wrote:

"Let us be honest - the C of E has never since the Reformation grappled in any depth with a NT doctrine of the church."

Actually not.

One of the vilest and most pagan of doctrines; the one that has turned more souls away from the Love of Christ. Namely, the doctrine of eternal never-ending punishment for the unsaved, was rejected by the CofE Doctine Commission in 1995.

Maybe they'll get around to addressing the Sabbath Day issue next.

27 April 2014 at 09:05  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I'm going to a baptism today, so it will be late afternoon before I get to reply. So as a holding response, I say, I don't think you've understood a word I've said! Perhaps it would help if you were able to explain what you take divine agency to be - i.e. is it only miracles etc.?

How's your daughter BTW?

27 April 2014 at 09:18  
Blogger David Hussell said...

As Albert said, I think, we have here, speaking as a committed Christian, born into the Anglican Church, a paradox. The establishment undoubtedly benefits the nation but harms the Church itself. So do I try to follow Christian tradition and continue serving my country as well as God, or do say, the country has largely rejected discipleship, becoming mainly nominal Christians; and it's right to concentrate on building the body of Christ, throwing off the burden of ministering to those who , this may sound harsh, but freeload on the Church, and put nothing back, and become the Church of God, in England, not the Church OF England.
Given my commitment to the Royal Family and freeing the UK of the growing yoke of the EU, a growing soft tyranny, this is a very difficult decision for me, perhaps one of the most difficult ever. But some weeks ago I came with great reluctance to the conclusion that God comes first then my country. So let us reinvent, mainstream, orthodox, trinitarian Protestantism in this country by freeing up the C of E. It will be traumatic but after a period the faith will grow again, I am convinced, only this time the growth will be based on believers not very luke warm ones. Provison must also be made for those of an Anglo-catholic persuasion who do not wish, for whatever reason, to depart for Rome, as I wish to see no one who is currently a committed Anglican unprovided for spiritually, but commitment and sincerity is strongly encouraged from all.

27 April 2014 at 09:38  
Blogger David Hussell said...

As Albert said, I think, we have here, speaking as a committed Christian, born into the Anglican Church, a paradox. The establishment undoubtedly benefits the nation but harms the Church itself. So do I try to follow Christian tradition and continue serving my country as well as God, or do say, the country has largely rejected discipleship, becoming mainly nominal Christians; and it's right to concentrate on building the body of Christ, throwing off the burden of ministering to those who , this may sound harsh, but freeload on the Church, and put nothing back, and become the Church of God, in England, not the Church OF England.
Given my commitment to the Royal Family and freeing the UK of the growing yoke of the EU, a growing soft tyranny, this is a very difficult decision for me, perhaps one of the most difficult ever. But some weeks ago I came with great reluctance to the conclusion that God comes first then my country. So let us reinvent, mainstream, orthodox, trinitarian Protestantism in this country by freeing up the C of E. It will be traumatic but after a period the faith will grow again, I am convinced, only this time the growth will be based on believers not very luke warm ones. Provison must also be made for those of an Anglo-catholic persuasion who do not wish, for whatever reason, to depart for Rome, as I wish to see no one who is currently a committed Anglican unprovided for spiritually, but commitment and sincerity is strongly encouraged from all.

27 April 2014 at 09:38  
Blogger graham wood said...

Ian Cad. I think you misunderstood my post about the C of E failing to address a doctrine of the church.
I referred to ecclesiology, not to any specific doctrinal church issue. - the "sabbath" or Eternal punishment etc.
I believe however that you have touched on a further relevant point, namely that the C Of E, despite its Articles and formularies is extremely weak in its doctrinal confession. But that is another discussion and not to the point about disestablishment.

27 April 2014 at 09:53  
Blogger IanCad said...

Graham Wood,

Oh, I quite often misunderstand or get the wrong end of the stick.

I must say though that surely the ordination of female vicars should be viewed as a change to the traditional practises of church governance.

27 April 2014 at 10:26  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Albert

My daughter is still in the hospital. She had a second surgery last Friday. Ordinary complication but it set back her recovery.

carl

27 April 2014 at 13:04  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl,

I am so sorry to hear your daughter is still unwell. If appropriate and it would encourage her, please assure her that prayers are said for her in far away England.

Regarding evolution and God:

The purpose of creation is to unambiguously reveal the Creator as the necessary first cause. To look at creation is to see the power and glory of God. It is so obvious that men must suppress the truth in order to avoid the inevitable conclusion.

As an evolutionist, I have nothing to disagree with you there. I would point out the Aquinas' design argument, the Fifth Way is unaffected by evolution. While Blessed John Henry Newman had this to say in 1868:

As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvellous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin's theory need not then to be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill...I do not [see] that 'the accidental evolution of organic beings' is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.

You continue:

Now the theistic evolutionist says "Yeah, we were wrong about everything you can see. But we are still right about everything you can't see."

I can't see, from a religious point of view that that is true at all. When has evolutionist had to admit we were wrong about everything we can see?

The mechanism you postulate is identical in every way to the mechanism envisioned by the atheists who visit this sight.

Yes, as is true when I put on the kettle and wait for the water to boil. So what?

You simply assert a hidden divine guidance to the process.

No, at least, I would want a lot of nuance there. To suggest God is guiding the process sounds like the process is taking place without God and he steers it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Without God, there are no processes. None whatsoever.

The atheist knows he needs a causal force behind evolution.

More likely he just accepts physics as a brute fact. This is irrational, but it seems to me that the world-view you are arguing for led the way in the creation of it.

You are retreating into a safe argument about philosophy having already admitted that the entire process is immanent.

If you mean that I believe created things genuinely have the powers they appear to have (as opposed to a kind of occasionalism), then yes, I believe the entire process is, in that sense, immanent. But I believe the process is constantly dependent on God, because every element of physics is always wholly dependent on God.

27 April 2014 at 17:31  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl, continued,

You are admitting that man can look at creation and not see the power and glory of God

Yes, but I think that anyway. It's a consequence of original sin. I don't see what evolution has to do with it. What actually is it that you think is missing from my account?

He can simply see this immanent process that has no necessary connection to God.

He chooses to see it that way, but it isn't rational, but that's the case whether or not he believes in evolution.

Now you might say "By faith it may be seen." But that doesn't align with Scripture. It requires no faith to see God's power and glory. It requires willful unbelief to suppress the truth having once seen it.

No, as a Catholic I believe:

that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason : ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

This is, to my knowledge, de fide for Catholics.

Evolution provides a (nominally) coherent explanation for existence in the absence of God.

No it doesn't. It presupposes existence. There are no physical processes without God, because there is no existence or power without God.

God is how we used to explain things we didn't understand. Now we understand. We don't need to appeal to God to answer the question 'Why are we here?'

No, God is how we explain everything, whether we understand it or not. Indeed, if we understand it, that will be because of it's rational structure, and that rational structure, given that nature itself lack intelligence, needs an explanation. So we need God as an explanation, because we can understand something.

27 April 2014 at 17:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Carl continued,

And he responds "We don't know but it's not God. Where is the evidence for Him? It's certainly not creation because you have already admitted that the physical universe can be explained by immanent process.

This is hardly the place to give a full argument for the existence of God, but I simply repeat again, the classical arguments for God's existence are entirely untouched by evolution - true or not. I have never admitted that the physical universe can be explain by immanent process.

And you have already admitted you were wrong about special creation, so why exactly should I listen to you? "

I've never admitted to being wrong about special creation.

You chucked the Creator as necessary cause out the front door and now you are trying to sneak him back into the frame via the rear window.

No, God is in exactly the same place as he was before. What is it that you think is missing from this account? - I just don't follow your words on the screen.

He is the obvious self-evident first cause or He is nothing.

Where have I denied that? It seems to me that perhaps you are confusing metaphysics and epistemology.

27 April 2014 at 17:48  
Blogger Darter Noster said...

HG said:

"We are no longer in an age - if ever we were - where the Archbishop of Canterbury can impose a morality or a doctrine of God"

We haven't been in that age for approximately 150 years. There is now no connection whatever between what the higher echelons of the Church of England, after endless meetings and policy documents, purport to believe, and what Anglicans actually believe. Anglican formulas are so loose and malleable that there is no limit at all to what one can believe and still be a loyal Anglican.

However, the Church of England has a property and investment portfolio running into the billions, not to mention the chance to appear official and wear robes on public occasions, so it's in the interest of all its clergy to keep it going. They're not going to find a better living/ soapbox/excuse to be self-important anywhere else, after all. Where else could people who wanted to be Liberal Democrat MPs but couldn't beat the selection process find a better offer? They might even make Bishop and the Lords.

27 April 2014 at 17:51  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Carl:

"You are admitting that man can look at creation and not see the power and glory of God."

"The fool says in his heart there is no God." That was written long before Evolution was an issue.

27 April 2014 at 17:54  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

So I am sitting in the Hospital with my daughter and it's not all bad. I just finished watching Man City defeat Crystal Palace after Liverpool lost. It's been a good day.

carl

27 April 2014 at 18:05  
Blogger Len said...

Wishing a speedy recovery to your daughter Carl.

27 April 2014 at 19:07  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

I'm so glad that I disestablished myself from a church broad and liberal enough to include Neitzche student and homoenabler Giles Fraser.

If there was not an established state church, would bible believing mean and women seek to establish one? If so, on what biblical mandate?

Establishment probably suits the Enemy of our souls quite well as part of a strategy to allow people to persuade themselves they are OK with God on the basis of infant sprinkling and occasional pew filling.

27 April 2014 at 21:00  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Rambling Steve,
"If there was not an established state church, would bible believing mean and women seek to establish one? If so, on what biblical mandate?"

Happy Jack believes it was an idea put forward first by William Tyndale in 'The Obedience of a Christian Man'. When Henry VIII read Anne Boylyn's copy he king found the rationale to break the Church in England from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.
Henry then declared the Act of Supremacy, by which he became Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Tyndale advocated that the king of a country was the head of that country's church too and was the first English writer to advance the concept of the Divine Right of Kings.

In the chapter, “The Obedience of Subjects unto Kings, Princes and Rulers”, Tyndale states that the “powers that be” are ordained by God and that resistance to earthly authority is resistance to God’s authority. This includes the Church who he said had usurped earthly authority from secular rulers. God has appointed the kings, princes, and other secular leaders as his representatives on earth. Whoever resists them resists God.

Wonder what he would have made of Cameron and Clegg?

29 April 2014 at 18:40  
Blogger Intonsus said...

"And in that holy obligation lies the essence of the Church of England."

Every Rector or Vicar of a parish (they are incumbent of parish, NOT a church - I want to shout 'No, you're not' when a parish priest describes himself or is described as "Vicar of St Thing's Church) has accepted 'the cure of souls' of the parish. Every parishioner is their care, among them those who attend worship.

They marry, bury, pray for and with all who come. And to all who come they have the duty to proclaim the gospel. A duty, a privilege, a joy, a challenge, and sometimes a burden.

But it is godly duty and and godly burden. Disestablishment carries the danger that some of those blurred edges would become strict boundaries; and that would be a far greater danger.

30 April 2014 at 12:45  

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