Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Oxbridge obsession hinders Reform

A post with which I have some sympathy from another blog:

[...] Oxbridge is in fact a busted flush in terms of producing people capable of instigating counter-establishment change in other walks of life. Privilege and contacts of course enable entree into the liberal-dominated, opinion-forming institutions of our country, such as mainstream politics, academia, the legal profession, the arts, the liberal press and the BBC, but the scions of Oxbridge lack the hunger, the restlessness, the counter-cultural edge necessary for those capable of challenging the status quo.

That is why Reform, as a movement working for the Evangelical transformation of a liberal-dominated institution such as the Church of England, desperately needs to escape from its obsession with Oxbridge.

This obsession manifests itself in a number of ways. The large Reform churches remain dominated by Oxbridge-educated clergy and seem reluctant when vacancies become available to depart from that pattern, even though there are outstanding non-Oxbridge candidates available, who would in fact be capable of shaking these churches up. Perhaps that is why they are not appointed.

The excellently Evangelical theological college Oak Hill in north London still seems to struggle to attract Conservative Evangelical ordinands away from the Oxbridge colleges. Yes, Wycliffe Hall in Oxford has hugely improved under its rigorously Evangelical Principal Richard Turnbull, but what is the excuse for a Reform-supporting ordinand passing over Oak Hill for Ridley Hall in Cambridge?

This is not about justifying a theology of envy. ‘Chippiness’ is as bad for the Gospel and the cause of Reform as snobbery.

But the painful reality is that the liberal establishment of the Church of England will continue to sleep snugly at night in its episcopal palaces whilst Reform continues to wrap itself around with its Oxbridge scarf. Read more

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