Friday, 14 September 2012

A quick reflection on the Appleby amendment

My comments will have to be very brief, having just moved house and being surrounded by boxes as well as the usual demands of work.

It was inevitable that the bishops would water down, but not reject, Clause 5(1)c. Rejection would have rallied the opposition one way, failing to amend it would have rallied the opposition the other way. Strengthening it was inconceivable. Therefore we must read the Appleby amendment as the 'Goldilocks' option - not too hot for the 'pros', warm enough for the 'antis'.

My guess is that this will be enough to satisfy those who want women bishops and that WATCH etc will now put their weight behind it. They want women bishops more than they want further delay and the amendment offers sufficiently little for it to present big problems in the grand scheme of things.

The real problem for Conservative Evangelicals, however, is that they are ALREADY regarded by the legislators as different from Anglo-Catholics in terms of what they need. The consultation documents presented to the House of Bishops prior to their most recent meeting are full of this sort of understanding. ACs are regarded as needing more specifically 'theological' provision than CEs - in other words, for CEs the view is that 'any man will do' and the likelihood is that provision for them will be on this basis.

In practice, this will mean that when a CE parish petitions under a male diocesan bishop, the petition may be rejected precisely on the grounds on which it is being made.

CEs have, in my experience, yet to wake up to this and will have a difficult case to make to the bishops if the legislation passes.

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  1. Further,

    What does the word "respect the grounds" mean about the Letters PCCs are supposed to write? Does "respect" mean "take note of the views" or mean "appoint a Bishop who holds the same views"?
    As John says, for CEs that may simply mean giving CEs a liberal man instead of a liberal woman.

    Very bad news for CEs

    Ro Mody, bournemouth

  2. John
    Are you implying that conservative evangelicals have no integrity? How on earth could they accepted the episcopal ministry of a man who was appointed by a female bishop. That seems crazy to me. I do think that the time has come for quota to be withdrawn as we are very clearly being shown the door. As I have been saying for years we need either to secure our own line of bishops or join Darren Moore and the English Presbyterians. Nigel

  3. Nigel, I don't think that the involvement of women in the hierarchy of the Church will be avoidable in the short-term (short of a massive theological turn-around, that is). However, from an Anglican point of view we have to understand that since this will be imposed by law, its status is legal before it is spiritual.

    Article XXIII says that we ought to judge as lawfully called and sent those "which be chosen and called to this work by men who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord's vineyard." That those with public authority will now include women is a major change, but their authority will be no different from that of the men -- it is given by the law of the land, which in our present case is presided over by a woman.

    If this is intolerable, then we have a problem. The traditional solution is to leave and start a new denomination (or join an old one, as you say). I personally have difficulties with that as sub-dividing the body of Christ. However, insofar as I couldn't be Roman Catholic I have obviously come to live with it to a degree.

    However, if the writing is indeed on the wall, then one must leave swiftly and graciously and exercise one's ministry accordingly.

    Personally I think that we will soon have a 'twin track' approach by strong evangelicals in this country, with some remaining Anglican and others working in non-Anglican structures, but hopefully with both working together.

    As to 'our own line of bishops', we need people who can work 'episcopally', which means freeing them up from parish responsibilities. I am not sure we're at that point in terms of thinking and practice yet, but we need to be.

  4. John
    We do indeed have a problem and the writing is on the wall. Firstly is is theological nonsense to divide a bishops ministry in two in the way that you propose. One cannot say yes to her legal authority and no to her ministry. I say this because the Canon of Canons (Scripture) explicitly forbids female presbyteral and episcopal ministry; and this over rules the lesser canons. Therefore it seems to be that any evangelical saying yes and no at one and the same time is being dishonest and colluding with Scriptural disobedience. Secondly such jesuitical reasoning will be fully exposed by the CofE and it will not be tolerated (and neither should it). Thirdly setting aside female episcopal ministry for a moment Scripture itself does not set forth a ministry (indeed any ministry) in such disjointed terms; as if for a moment Paul would tolerate a ministry in a single church that could be legally recognised one the one hand and wholly rejected on the other!! This will not stand the test of time. We need to face up to that now and all act accordingly. Nigel

  5. Nigel, I don't think any of this is really what I am 'proposing', as you put. Rather, it is almost certainly what is going to happen, and - one way or another - we will have to live with it, whether within the Anglican structures or not.

    As it happens, the Church of England is officially trying to put in place something that will enable its proposals (not 'mine' or 'ours') to keep those who take a different view on board. It is doing this somewhat reluctantly in some cases and in the face of opposition, but it is doing it.

    I am not saying what is being done is adequate, and I am sure there are some very painful days ahead for the gospel in this country, not least when we move on to the next item on the agenda.

    We must indeed act accordingly - but according to what? Who will leave, who will stay, what will they do?

  6. I take your point John that you are not proposing anything and are just describing what will happen. But it will only happen if Evangelicals collude with the proposals and go along with them. What should happen should happen according to the plain teaching of Scripture. Evangelicals should all declare that they will not be manipulated into disobedience. Like Luther we need to say here we stand we can do no other. All quotas/parish shares should then stop. We then need to locate Anglican Bishops to ordain our candidates and if we need to leave our buildings so be it. I am afraid it needs to be as brutal and as clear as that. For if we do not do it now we will not do it "when we move on to the next item on the agenda" either. What the CofE is putting is place is worthless and an insult. But unless we all act together and the big churches are able to put Gospel Ministry to the whole of England ahead of their own parishes we will be silenceed one by one. N

  7. The trouble with there proposals, Nigel, is that you and I both know they aren't going to happen, beginning with the big churches.

    So, we need another approach.

  8. But why?? I thought we believed in Scripture?

  9. Nigel, obviously its not as straightforward as 'we believe in Scripture'. In the days of Arius, what did those who 'believed in Scripture' do? We need to have a plan - and also an attitude, which may involve hanging in there.

    The biggest problem by far is that we have not won the argument. I take comfort from the fact that neither, in the first instance, did the orthodox in the days of Arius, but we will need to do this eventually.

  10. Something to chew on, from a slightly different angle.

    John (rightly), is reluctant to further divide the body of Christ, but acknowledges he couldn't be Roman Catholic. BUT, the C of E is quite "divisive" in a sense. Obviously Nigel will say these proposals are introducing division (in the histo-catholic sense).... BUT, having just been inducted today into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (of English & Wales - don't forget the Welsh Nigel) - I wasn't re-ordained. If I was moving in the other direction, that would not be so.

    So, the irony is, that although specifically Evangelical groups like IPC, ECPEW, FIEC, EFCC etc. can be labeled as narrow etc. & yes they work to protect their pulpits, they don't re-ordain, they recognise they are a small part of a BIG church. The C of E may say that in official documents, but in practice acts as if it is THE 1 holy catholic....

    You get that in the way people report/discuss the issue in hand "the church's mind" etc. (by which they mean some people in their 50s & 60s, in a self selected Synod, who ignore church history & the global church, let alone the Bible). & you also get that in asking already ordained people, maybe with decades of pastoral experiance to go through as if they are just testing their vocation. In 1 case I know, even though they'd been Episcopally ordained.

    So, really, lining up with some English (& Welsh) Presbys isn't actually so divisive. &, yes, the grass is greener.

    The problem I think for those staying in, despite all the fighting talk, is the frog in the boiling water issue. Before the however-many-years of discussing this really got going, if we said to most Evangelicals that this day would come, they'd talk big (along the lines Nigel just has). But I fear, & have already heard, little but a frustrated acceptance. Those have to work out, does it matter, or not.

    (here on the greener side - there are many other positives, other than your current crisis, shared Eldership, sane Presbytery etc. etc.)

    Darren Moore

  11. Darren, you sound as if you're trying to tempt us!

  12. Don't give up!


  13. Hi John
    I am afraid it is as simple as we believe in Scripture. During the Arian Controversies the reason why the Orthodox won was because they refused to accept Arian teaching and opposed it and orthodox priests ensured that they came under orthodox bishops. Athanasisus as you know had no truck with Arianism and opposed it all his life and was driven into exile a number of times. Furthermore at the Reformation Evangelicals distanced themselves from Roman dogma and refused the Mass. All because they believed in Scripture. But what you are suggesting or describing is Evangelicals now not doing what the Orthodox did under Arius and not doing what the Evangelicals did at the time of the Reformation. In other words capitulating to and colluding with unbiblical teaching.

  14. I actually need to tempt you?

    I guess in reforming the church you often need to re-form the church. I think Elijah & Elisha are intersting to ponder. Elijah confronted the establishment, Elisha nurtured a remnant. The remnant, although Israel, functioned quite independently of the establishment. Interesting how Gerhazi acts as a "Priest" to Elisha, how the widow arranges his room (like a poor man's temple) etc. & of course, I think we'll get into a bit of a mess if we say, "Israel = C of E". C of E is not THE Church.

    Already THE Church is getting better, across denominations at working together in non-tokenistic ways.

    Nigel's parrallels I think are fair enough. In which case, in needs the orthodox to do their own thing. The sad thing is the issue that it is over, as many just think you're a bit mad over it. Of course, it is a simple matter of ingoring Scripture & it generally comes part & parcel with a load of proper doctrinal problems. But some who have made this step, but gone no further (inconsistently, arguably), will not get it (yet).

  15. Nigel, I'm going to suggest we take this off the public forum and continue the discussion privately. I think it may be confusing to some people, especially as we need to sort out the basis from which we are presenting our different viewpoints.

  16. The interesting thing for me will be how Wallace Benn would respond, given his very good comments at York synod. The response all people need to look at is "Can we stay if this happens", regardless of what issue is discussed. Which, to my mind, goes to whether people consider the matter to be a "first order" matter or not.
    For me, whilst I am in favour of women bishops, I do not see it as a first order matter and could quite happily stay in the CofE whether they are allowed or not. For those who believe it is a first order matter, the question is can they stay and work within a system that doesn't agree with them.
    I this something that is possible? If so, how would it be done? I, like you John, am keen for unity where possible as it is a very important part of Biblical teaching in my mind, so would much prefer the CofE to be a place that CEs can remain and faithfully witness.

  17. YP - see where you are coming from....

    ... but 1st order/2nd order are not helpful terms here. It isn't a matter of salvation (in & of itself). BUT, the problem is a "2nd order" thing is made a 1st order thing, by saying, "You must go along with this, you must ascent to it, regardless". Scripture speaks into those over "2nd order" issues which if imposed against people's conscience is quite serious.

    Of course it is a VERY important issue because it's caused disunity (you can't really blame traditionalists for that, as they've basically stood still/not budged). & because it is (in our minds) going against Scripture. If that's right, then the question is, "is a little bit of sin OK?" Well, if it's in ignorance, that's one thing, but if people are knowingly doing something wrong - no it's not. Also, it does come as a package. Can you think of someone who is anti-penal substitution, AND anti-women bishops, or pro-gay, wonky on the Trinity etc. It doesn't stand that all pro-women bishop types are heretics (your self being a fine example), but can you think of anyone with a strange view that doesn't support it? In the traditionalists mind, that's because it's connected - John put up a post some time ago about an article Nigel had done a LONG time ago about those connections & CS Lewis's predictions about the sequence of events. Very sobering.

    So primary/secondary - I think traditionalists are arguably trying to keep it secondary. But for many revisionists, there gospel = a secular notion of rights - it has to be primary.

  18. I think Nigel is spot on. We want to stay Anglicans, but cannot accommodate what is unscriptural or unhistorical. The answer is obvious - we carry on under the care of Bishop John Ellison and the AMiE banner. Simples!

  19. Really?

    So, you want to substitute one load of problems, for some (as I understand it within AMiE) another load of Anglo-Catholic problems? Also, if you did that you would be Anglican, but not C of E. So, why not have a complete re-think. Do you REALLY want to be Anglican... or a faithful Christian... same question to Presbyterians & Independents of course. We can't make polity an idol, but do our best to be faithful including our polity.

    Just in case I hadn't made the EPC case strong enough - we have no EPMiE, no Reforming-EPC, no reforming the reforming-EPC. Just a bunch of Elders who proactivly keep each other on their toes. No discussions that go, "Hermeneutics", which apparently is a magic word that makes all traditional arguments vanish into thin air, without actually having to do any hermeneutical work.

    In respect for my learned brothers, Nigel & John - I'll leave it there.

  20. Thanks for your comment Darren. I take it that you have recently left Anglican ministry and so your mind will have already been made up. For those who are puzzled about what to do now that women bishops are almost here, let me make the following points.

    Some of us are convinced Anglicans - we consider the CofE as originally set up the true Catholic Church of this country. It set up around the supremacy of Holy Scripture and it has a unique balance between Word and Sacrament. That does not please too many of my fellow CEs because they have no real place for the Sacraments and to be honest, they have no real grasp of the English Reformation settlement anyway. They are there only, I suspect, because of guaranteed stipends and free houses.

    The AMiE is inspired by Conservative Evangelicals and orthodox Catholics in GAFCON Africa, who have a much better grasp of Anglican doctrine than many here at home. Their bishops are men of courage and faith - quite the opposite to our bishops - and I sure do look forward to their episcopal oversight. Bring it on!

  21. Darren,

    What if you simply do not agree with Presbyterian forms of church government and can't sign the Westminster Confession ex animo? I am very happy with the Reformed Anglican formularies. Why leave? As Ryle said, leave when the Articles are formally repudiated.
    The question is what do we do?
    We need to sit down together, read the Scriptures, pray for wisdom, and then formulate an agreed strategy and execute it.

    Ro Mody, Bournemouth

  22. Yes Ro, that is a problem. Basically, it's the problem of having integrity. So, a conservative Presbyterian outfit, like IPC or ECPEW would want to be convinced that you are pretty committed to the Westminster standards. There are a few quibbles allowed, but essentially, you sign up to them.

    Of course liberals don't have this problem. They hold their Bibles, prayer books, say they "assent" to them, which means whatever they want it to mean & teach the polar opposite. Even an Anglo-Catholic must take large sections of the 1662 communion service & 39 articles (still the offical standards) with a pinch of salt. So, yes, being an Anglican with integrity is hard work.

    Presbyterian form of government - I think there is a scope of governments that fit with Scripture. I think Ussher's model (although he was a convinced Episcopalian) of something between the 2 is acceptable. I think Episcopacy can be OK, but as it is in the C of E - a bit mad (Wardens, PCCs, how synods are selected etc.). Presbytery & Session, are much saner than Anglican equivalents (which aren't quite equivalent).

    The Articles will not be repudiated, but ignored. I think you've got a tough time. I don't think you'll ever get kicked out, you'll just be given more to swallow and generation after generation will find themselves putting up with more than they ever imagined.

    Anonymous - Scripture gives us the balance with the sacraments. But you're right, CE's don't know what to do with them, fearing that they are Catholic.

    But I'm still not sure, given what the reformation was about, why teaming up with Anglo-Catholics helps. Would Cranmer & Ryle been up for that?

    Oh yes - less silliness in induction services.

  23. Something to ponder for those who think Presbyterianism isn't biblical...

    1st there are different forms. So, I'm not keen on a split between ruling & teaching elders. Officially, as I understand it neither EPCEW nor IPC make that distinction, although some within do.

    2nd, fine, you're convinced by Episcopacy, or a form there of. BUT, surely not as practiced in the C of E? The C of E's system can't be justified can it? Place of PCC (what is it? Eldership - ruling Elders? Deacons?), Wardens (what are they?), Archdeacons etc. etc. You get my point.

    Now, I'm sure you can live with that. But why hold Presbyterianism to a higher standard? Surely Evangelical/Reformed Presbyterianism is closer to Primitive Episcopacy than Anglicanism, currently practised?

    Chew on it. But, Ro's problem is an inability to lie under oath... in that respect, he'd make a good Evangelical Presbyterian.

  24. Anonymous- do you mind if I ask a couple of questions about AMiE (apart from “who are you”?) ?

    1. How is AMiE going to help those of us in “ordinary” parishes who cannot accept the oversight of a female bishop, or consider the oath of canonical obedience to her binding? When AMiE was first mooted at the Reform Conference a couple of years ago, we were told that that was its purpose. But now it seems to have been set up to serve the needs of Co-Mission, and its purpose is supposed to be “broader”. I greatly admire Co-Mission, and it is to their credit that they have sought oversight (instead of becoming Independent churches) but I can’t see how AMiE/FCA/GAFCON will help the rest of us. Especially as they include those (eg Michael Nazir-Ali) who accept women’s ordination as presbyters.

    2. Who are AMiE? At the last Reform conference, it was only after repeated efforts, that we finally got the names of the AMiE council/committee given from the platform- and the speaker clearly wasn’t very pleased at having to do it. In the train on the way back I pleaded with one of the committee to get the names up on the AMiE website, to allay suspicions. That still hasn’t been done. We don’t know how the council will be appointed, or how future bishops will be appointed. I don’t want to joint a set up that is this secretive- I’d rather join an EPCEW or IPC presbytery where there is more transparency and trust.

    3. How does one join AMiE? Two years after it was first announced, it still hasn’t sorted the basis of its membership out.

    Stephen Walton

  25. Dear Stephen,
    I quite understand your frustrations with AMiE and share them myself, but I do understand that setting up something as revolutionary as this in very hostile circumstances will take time.
    I think we may hear more at this year's Reform conference - I certainly hope so!
    Mike Keulemans,

  26. Mike-

    I think you've put your finger on the problem. You have to go to the Reform Conference to learn more. What about those of us who can't be there?

    Stephen Walton