Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wanted: Believing Bishops for the Salvation of the Nation

The other day (as you do) I wandered over to the ‘Thinking Anglicans’ website to see what Anglicans were thinking about. Apparently it is women bishops and same-sex marriage (or for tweeters out there #WomenBishops and #gaymarriage).
Actually, you might well get the same impression reading this blog, though in fairness to myself I would point out that when I try posting on other topics the rate of hits goes down and vice versa (on the day of the women bishops vote, there were over eight hundred hits before I even posted anything), so perhaps the problem is also the readership.
But what should Anglicans be thinking about? Or to what will their thoughts turn when we have bishops who are women (and same-sex marriages at least in some denominations)?
I doubt whether it will be what they were thinking about towards the end of the Second World War, namely the conversion of England. As some readers of this blog will be aware, I have gone on at considerable length about the report Towards the Conversion of England and have posted extracts here so people can read it for themselves.
Indeed, I could genuinely claim that this report provides the framework for everything I am trying to do via the blog and my other involvements. My personal dream would be ‘every parish an evangelizing parish’.
And that is why the present debate about the gender of our bishops has to be seen as a distraction.
Please note, however, my careful choice of words. I am referring to the present debate, not all debate. There are perfectly good grounds for debating the role or otherwise of women in the episcopate, but in the present situation in the Church of England, our troubles will not be resolved either way by settling this issue, whether to the satisfaction of some or of all.
The Church of England has only ever had male bishops, and until 1993 only had male incumbents, but for several decades (at least) it has failed to be an evangelizing body, or even to uphold the core truths of the gospel.
Consider what Towards the Conversion of England had to say about the state of the Church of England in 1945:
In view of the immense opportunities open to parochial evangelism, it is alarming to discover how few of the clergy have been given any training in the work of an evangelist, such as in the art of preaching or of personal dealing with enquirers; how few, again, have been used of God to bring a soul to new birth ... (98)
Or again,
The ignorance of the Bible to-day, not only in the ranks of the laity but also amongst many of the clergy (and particularly the younger clergy) is really horrifying. Yet there is nothing more vital for the work of evangelism. The Bible contains the title deeds of our Faith. How many priests, to-day, by pointing to passages and verses from the Holy Scriptures, can bring that assurance of salvation to enquirers which our Bible-loving forefathers were able to mediate to countless multitudes? (100)
Indeed earlier on the report makes this damning observation:
... the Church is ill-equipped for its unparalleled task and opportunity. The laity complain of a lack of creative leadership among all ranks of the clergy. The spiritual resources of the worshipping community are at a low ebb. Above all, the Church has become confused and uncertain in the proclamation of its message, and its life has ceased to reflect clearly the truth of the Gospel. (6)
Yet that was the situation with an all-male clergy and all-male bishops. And whilst it might be objected that little has changed today, clearly gender is absolutely no guarantee of evangelistic endeavour.
And here is another point to recognize. If that is still the situation in much of the Church of England today, creating and maintaining all-male enclaves of ministry and episcopal oversight, far from transforming matters may actually make them worse.
But what have bishops got to do with it? Some critics of Conservative Evangelicals have rightly observed that until they were threatened with women in the role, they rather preferred to ignore bishops entirely. And that is true. But the answer is not to carry on ignoring them.
Another book that I believe should be on the shelf of every bishop is that by the Rt Revd Samson Mwaluda, Bishop of Taita Taveta in Kenya, titled Reorienting a Church for Accelerated Growth (Nairobi: Uzima, 2003). In it, Mwaluda points out,
Our experience in Kenya, as in many parts of the Anglican Church worldwide, is that the diocesan bishops [sic] leading rôle affects every aspect of the Church. I want to contend that one key factor in the reorientation of the Anglican Church in Taita Taveta for accelerated growth, is for the diocesan bishop to focus on his rôle as the chief teacher-evangelist.”(18)
Then he adds,
The Anglican Church, particularly in the West, is decreasing in areas where bishops undervalue evangelism and the teaching of the apostles’ doctrine. [...] Anglicanism is growing quickly where bishops are vision bearing evangelist-teachers ... (19)
And this is surely the crucial point — not just about bishops but about the Church of England. According to the latest census figures, nominal Christianity has fallen by about 10% in ten years. That is not a decline, it is free-fall. And that has taken place whilst the majority of the population have, I would suggest, been indifferent to the Church’s disputes about the gender of its bishops or its attitude to homosexuality. (And furthermore it is during a period when women vicars have become widely accepted as normal. The Vicar of Dibley, which initially relied on the ‘novelty factor’, first aired in 1994.)
I don’t know how many contributors to Towards the Conversion of England are still alive (and I would very much like to contact any who are), but they must be amongst the most disappointed people in Christendom.
But as Mwaluda suggests, we do not have to look far to find one area we might address, yet which has been almost entirely ignored, and that is the attitude of our clergy in general and our bishops in particular, to evangelism and apostolic doctrine.
Towards the Conversion of England actually has some suggestions to make in this regard:
Any forward move ... in evangelism must begin with the clergy themselves, and with their coming together to gain a new liberation into the vision of the glory of God. Our first recommendation as a Commission is that the Bishops (if they have not already done so) should arrange for gatherings of their clergy for this purpose. (90)
That was in 1945. Yet what bishop has done so? I am not saying there are none, but certainly none under whom I have served (which is several). Indeed in all my thirty six years (almost to the day) in ordained ministry, none of those bishops has tested me on my understanding of any theological issue whatsoever, let alone the gospel itself.
There aren’t even questions asked during the process of Episcopal Review. Yet surely the most basic question that ought to be asked regularly of all clergy is ‘What do you preach and what do you teach?’
And this is where we come to the bishops themselves.
Bishops are the overseers of the shepherds and the guardians of the gospel. I feel no embarrassment in making that statement. That is why we have them and that is, first and foremost, what they are supposed to do. If they don’t do it, no one else will or can.
So the first question that should be asked of any candidate to the episcopate is the one they themselves ought to ask regularly of those under their charge: ‘What gospel do you preach and what gospel do you teach?’
Actually, I do know a suffragan bishop who, in his interview, was asked almost exactly this, and I was very impressed by the fact. (I don’t know his answer, but I am glad the question was put.) Yet if you look at the preaching and teaching, or simply the priorities of bishops, you do wonder what they feel about the Apostle Paul’s charge to the Corinthians:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures ... (1 Cor 15:1-3, NKJV)
Now whenever I post this, someone always objects ‘What about the resurrection?’ And indeed the resurrection is there in Paul’s preaching. But the crucifixion is the horse that pulls the cart, as we see elsewhere not least in the words of Jesus himself:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:45, NKJV)
But the important word in what Paul has to say, as far as our present debate is concerned, is the word ‘if’; as in ‘the gospel ... by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you’.
For the Apostle views life in these terms: that the only guarantee of salvation is to hold fast to the word of the gospel, of which the first and key element is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (which means, incidentally, as a ‘penal substitutionary’ sacrifice — try Numbers 8:15-18 for a change and Article II).
This concern — this gospel — is what should be at the forefront of episcopal ministry. Every bishop should believe that the word of the gospel begins with Christ’s death for sins, scripturally understood, and only if people believe and hold fast to this can we be sure of their salvation from the coming wrath of God.
And every bishop should ensure, as far as possible, that the clergy under his — or her — charge, who hold his or her license, believe, preach and teach the same.
Whether and how that can be the case is the real debate we should be having and which we are yet to have. Who are the bishops who believe this, and who are the candidates for the episcopate who believe it?
Without that, we will never be the Church which Christ builds and whose prevailing against the gates of hell he guarantees.
Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend:


  1. I have a positive anecdote to support your call here - I am a candidate for ordination in the Diocese of Sydney (Australia) in February 2013. I have been tested on the gospel I believe and the gospel that I preach by a panel appointed by our archbishop. Our archbishop has taken the lead as chief evangelist and teacher, including opportunities under pressure on national television. Both the archbishop and bishop have preached clear and unambiguous gospel messages in our church this year.

    It is no co-incidence - but rather God's blessing - that during the last ten years Anglican churches in Sydney have grown at a faster rate than population growth - and this is against the general trend of decline in the West. We are a long way from the conversion of the city, but are seeing real gospel growth that is being led from the top.

    We will continue in prayer for the Church of England and the conversion of England - to whom we in Sydney owe a massive historical debt.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I'm not at all surprised. I think I'm right in saying that the same Archbishop also interviewed his replacement as principal of Moore College to make sure he was orthodox before he got the job!

      'Constant vigilance' was something Peter emphasized, even - or perhaps especially - with regard to our friends.

  2. John, what was your reaction to the Transforming Presence document put out by your (and my) bishop? It seems relevant to this post.

    1. Not without weaknesses, but very much better than anything else I've seen.

  3. John,

    May I encourage you to obtain a little booklet just published by the Evangelical Alliance UK entitled "21st Century Evangelicals - a snapshot of the beliefs and habits of evangelical Christians in the UK 2012 - Confidently Sharing the Gospel". This has been posted to all members of the EA, clergy and laity alike. It is research and statistics-rich!

    God holds all Christians responsible for "broadcasting" the good news, not just clergy or bishops. God also has the responsibility for "conversion" which He can and will fulfil through the Holy Spirit, despite our negligence.

    The task cannot be accomplished by preaching/teaching only: it requires prayer, long-term love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. It also requires emotional as well as intellectual intelligence. Is it any surprise that the male of the species tend to specialise in the latter while the female of the species tend to specialise in the former? Both are needed in the armoury of every Christian, let alone each member of the clergy and episcopate.

    While a section of evangelicals continues to place its dependance purely on Biblical study and practice, practiced by men only (in accpordance with Apostle Paul's stricture "I do not suffer a woman to teach"), may I suggest that it is losing out in its lack of emphasis on the day-by-day practical co-working with the Holy Spirit, using all the tools at the Holy Spirit's disposal for the benefit of all members of the Body of Christ.

    The conversion of England is a massive task, not aided by secular distractions - but to confine the preaching and teaching of evangelism to bishops who are an "nth" percentage of the clergy is to multiply the likelihood that it will never be achieved.

    Evangelism can never depend on preaching/teaching alone because it relies on all of us, not just the learned ones.

    Beryl Polden, Wirral.

    1. Beryl,

      I'm sure that's right. But Ephesians 4 goes through gifted ministries that God has gifted the church with in order to equip people. So, if the Ministers, especially the lead ones don't lead in that area (even if they do well in others), then the people will follow.

      It's a good question that you don't often hear asked. People have said lots for or against having women bishops. But very rarely does anyone say what bishops are there for. Some of us cope well without them (at least, in the form Anglicans have them)

    2. Beryl, thanks for this, but may I just say I think you are understanding my 'preaching' and 'teaching' concepts too narrowly?

      The Anglican Communion website says "The first mark of mission [To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom], identified at ACC-6 with personal evangelism, is really a summary of what all mission is about, because it is based on Jesus' own summary of his mission (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:18, Luke 7:22; cf. John 3:14-17). Instead of being just one (albeit the first) of five distinct activities, this should be the key statement about everything we do in mission."

      By 'preaching', I mean practising this 'Mark of Mission' which is actually the sum of all mission. And as the Apostle reminds us, the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom begins with 'Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures'.

      Similarly, teaching is not 'pulpit teaching' but what is identified in the Ordinal: "We have good hope that you have well weighed and pondered these things with yourselves long before this time; and that you have clearly determined, by God's grace, to give yourselves wholly to this office, whereunto it hath pleased God to call you: so that, as much as lieth in you, you will apply yourselves wholly to this one thing, and draw all your cares and studies this way; and that you will continually pray to God the Father, by the mediation of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, for the heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost; that, by daily reading and weighing of the Scriptures, ye may wax riper and stronger in your ministry; and that ye may so endeavour yourselves from time to time to sanctify the lives of you and yours, and to fashion them after the rule and doctrine of Christ, that ye may be wholesome and godly examples and patterns for the people to follow."

      We must not over-emphasize the role of the clergy and we must not under-emphasize it either, but read "The Part of the Laity in Evangelism" from Towards the Conversion of England to see what was said about this a long time ago.

  4. John, is your post title intended to imply that there are currently no believing bishops in the Church of England? I know that there are now none who meet your definition of a conservative evangelical, including opposition to women as priests and bishops. But if you intend to imply that none of the existing bishops believe, or that none of them are interested in the salvation of the nation, that is an insult to many godly men (I wish it were women as well) like the Archbishop elect and your own diocesan bishop.

    So perhaps it is time for you and your conservative evangelical party to drop your sectarian attitude, put the women bishops controversy behind you, and work constructively with the bishops you do have, encouraging them to join with you in effective evangelism.

    1. Peter, I doubt that's what he meant. I can't even see how the post title implies what you suggest it does.

    2. Peter

      Your intolerance of intolerance is still intolerance and so no less sectarian. THE difference is you are just attempting to force us to accept your viewpoint. Michael Nazir-Ali calls it “nothing-but-ery”. Nice new word, I will start to use it more often.


    3. Phil, your intolerance of me merely stating my opinion in favour of women bishops completely amazes me, as well as being the very essence of sectarianism. I am not trying to force that viewpoint on anyone, I am simply agreeing with John that we need to move on to things more important than that controversy.

      Matt, maybe I have misunderstood John, but the title does seem to imply a shortage of believing bishops. I guess we should wait for his response.

    4. Peter, what mattghg said. You have to read the article. ;-)

    5. John, the article seems to say the same as the title.

      The article adds content to what bishops should believe: "that the word of the gospel begins with Christ’s death for sins, scripturally understood, and only if people believe and hold fast to this can we be sure of their salvation from the coming wrath of God." I agree, although I would allow for a broader interpretation of "scripturally understood" than some conservative evangelicals. And I would agree that some Church of England bishops appear not to believe this, and that that is unfortunate - although it is not quite the same as saying that they don't believe at all.

      But then you ask "Who are the bishops who believe this?", which looks like a rhetorical question implying that none do. Perhaps that is not what you meant, and in fact you were asking your readers to name some who do - in which case I would invite you to find out what Bishops Welby, Cottrell and others believe. But surely you can understand my confusion over exactly what was meant.

    6. Peter, as you rightly identify (the second time round) my question is not a subtle 'none do' but a genuine 'who does'?

      Names (albeit with supporting evidence if available) are welcome.

      You should try to read without such a fixed 'hermeneutic of suspicion'.

    7. Peter,
      The article does include the words 'I am not saying there are none'. I can, however, see how you took the inferrence you did from the article.


      I think I would offer the Rt Rev Tony Porter, Suffragan Bishop of Sherwood, as an example of a bishop holding fast to the gospel and wholeheartedly doing the work of an evangelist.
      That's certainly the impression I get from one conversation with him and two or three with clergy in that diocese. It certainly fits with the evidence of his time as my vicar in Manchester.

      Or is your question more 'to what extent is he ensuring that the clergy in the diocese do likewise?' That I wouldn't be able to comment on.

      Benjamin Wilks

    8. Benj, I thought the words 'I am not saying there are none' referred to something rather different. Surely an unbelieving (in any sense) bishop could arrange for a gathering of clergy to discuss evangelism. But indeed he would be less likely to do so than one personally committed to the task.

    9. the title does seem to imply a shortage of believing bishops

      A shortage, yes. A total absence, no.

  5. Maybe a better title would have been, "Preaching Bishops", or the like.

    In the 1640s there were lots of discussions about bishops... which ended up without England having any for a while. One thing that kept coming up was the idea of evangelising/preaching bishops over smaller areas, with less power, sharing their responsibilities with their clergy. Basically an Episco-Presbyterian hybrid. Rather things were very all or nothing and bishops (even some of the better) ones tend to be distant sales managers.

    Some time I ago, I was studying with the now Archbishop of Josh, while he was on Sabbatical. He said, "in Nigeria, Bishop means Evangelism trainer. If a Vicar can't show me what Evangelism he is doing... we sack them".

    When I was selected for C of E, the assistant DDO asked me to explain the gospel, the DDO, bishops, & ABM & 2 out of 3 colleges never asked me what I believed. When I moved to a Presbyterian Church, the contrast could not be more stark. I was asked loads of questions about doctrine and how it relates pastorally/evangelistically, & people had been googling my sermons to check me out.

    Put that together, if you are going to evangelise the nation, through whatever church structure, you need quality control. That means part of a bishops role (if you're going to have them), is to meaningfully discipline people who misrepresent the gospel. That doesn't have to be an expensive heresy trial. It could be, ask the congregation if they go along with this version of Christianity & if they do, remove their affiliation. Besides, if you think of the damage done by false teaching an expensive heresy trial may actually, long term, save money!

    Evangelism is often talked about as just events/technique, not the content of the evangel itself.. that may cause disagreement.

    1. "If a Vicar can't show me what Evangelism he is doing... we sack them".


      BTW I happen to know of a bishop who has (allegedly) sacked one of his staff on his first day in office. I thought that sounded promising.

    2. I know of a vicar in an English diocese who was torn off a strip for having increased the size of his congregation.
      This happened in the last 10years.

      Peter Crick

  6. When I was being discerned for ordination here are the questions I was asked:
    • What is your view on women’s ordination?
    • Could you work with a woman rector?
    • Do you think homosexuals can be Christians?
    • Do you think it is right for women to be Bishops?
    • It is likely that the ("") Diocese could elect a woman bishop, what do you think about that?
    • How do you feel about the fact that majority of clergy in this diocese don’t believe in Penal Substitutionary atonement?
    • Do you think you can serve in a diocese where your view is the minority?
    • Do you feel that you have an obligation to correct other clergy when it comes to their different views?
    • How do you think you would go serving in a parish where your Rector is a woman and a lesbian, your bishop is a woman, the majority of people in the parish don’t believe in penal substitutionary atonement and there are homosexual couples in the church? (yes I was asked this by the person who was one of my examining chaplains before I was Deaconed).
    • How do you feel about serving in a diocese that is sacramental?
    • What are your views about wearing robes?
    • If you were visiting a patient in a hospital who was a Muslim and they died? Do you believe that they would go to heaven? (I was asked this by the then Director of Ordinands).
    • How you would respond to the fact that many clergy in the diocese would find your views to be OFFENSIVE& ZENOPHOBIC? (I was asked this by the then Director of Ordinands after I answered her previous question by saying that the Muslim would not go to heaven because I believe that salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone).

    Alarming to me is what I was not asked:
    • What is the Gospel? How do you define it?
    Will the gospel be faithfully preached by you?
    • Will you aim to ensure that the Bible taught with clarity and passion?
    • Are your sermons manifestly rooted in a text of Scripture?
    • Will you exercise personal care over the flock? How will you do this?
    • Do you believe in the complete trustworthiness of all of Scripture?
    • Do you adequate time for study and preparation?
    • How is your personal godliness going?
    • How is your prayer and Bible reading?

    Instead of discerning whether I met the qualifications for church office laid out in the New Testament and the Ordinal, instead of asking me if I believe and eagerly rejoice in my denomination (Anglican) statements of faith, creeds, and confessions, the concern of the diocese was my views on women’s ordination, homosexuality, and my response to the fact penal substitutionary atonement (the gospel) is denied

    1. I am surprised that they did not ask you if you would mind stripping naked and going out at midnight to call Lucifer and the spirits of darkness.

      Oh before someone takes me seriously (Ian- Peter take note) I am joking, well sort of.


  7. Anonymous, I do rather wish you'd left your name and location (like what you're supposed to). What you've said is fascinating but was that in the UK?

  8. John, I don't doubt that this was in the UK as I don't think Muslims are proportionally so numerous or socially prominent in the USA/Canada as to be likely to prompt the question about them.

    Also Anon doesn't say what ensued of his discernment process but I'd guess he was turned down - in which case all I'd add is, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!"

    On a slightly humorous note, I'd have answered the Q about Zenophobia by pointing out that Zeno of Citium founded the Stoic school of philosophy which opposed Paul's preaching in Athens, and which he in turn was obliged to refute.

    Dan (Baynes
    Barton Seagrave - but I think you know by now John!)

  9. It is sad and terrifying that almost without exception CofE Bishops do not appear to hold, and certainly do not teach, basic Christian doctrines. Instead they spend their time wittering on about changing things to suit the world.

    I would quote John, about the evil involved in seeking (let alone making) friendship with the world. But then they don;t believe the Bible, so what's the point? None, I suppose.

    Isn't it time for those few who do believe to get out of the CofE and to join with the Christian brethren in congregations that do actually believe the faith as help by the Apostles?

    Oh, hang on...
    I'm sounding like Martyn Lloyd Jones now!

  10. Looking back on my 30 yrs in full time ministry I think I was at my most evangelistic when I was at my most pastoral.Isnt there a key passage in the report to the effect that the credability of the Church in the eyes of the world being the world seeing a quality of life in the Church that people cant find elsewhere. That struck me forcefully when I read the report in the late 80's and I quoted it in sermons several times. Perry Butler

    1. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

    2. Rod Carpenter, Ballarat, Australia25 December 2012 at 10:41

      Reading with interest as a lay Anglican. Though its a division (lay/clergy) i'm rather conflicted about. Not least because of passages like this one in Peter that Phil has quoted, describing the people (laos) in a way that inherits all the privileges of priesthood - which the people of God are to each other and the world; something it seems to me only partly recovered at the Reformation. Indeed i gather kleros and laos in the NT do not correspond at all with the structure clergy and laity. I'd be interested in a biblical exposition of that basic division in the NT - feels to me while that's wanting that 1633 or 1950 views of the division are sitting on wobbly foundations. Numbers 8 cited above seems to me another case where the original function of the seperated priesthood - while no doubt tied to substitutionary atonement (and perhaps incidentally gender roles) for which its cited - is also foundationally constituted under that covenant. I understand church clergy were in some quarters promoted to replicate or model levitical separation, though the scholars here will know more, and I'm not suggesting Numbers 8 is being used as a template for current clergy/laity roles - just that things seem to have changed in the NT that does not really mandate the two tier structure we seem to have evolved since, notwithstanding the few usages of terms for overseer etc. And the Eph 4 leadership & equipping of the whole body for ministry (not solely doing or defining the ministry) of course does leave a role for leaders who empower and train. But often we seem to arrive at a place where its a limiting model of professional 'ordained' clergy trying to run everything that limits others to secondary roles rather than empowers with transferable example. Also leaves a very weak model of what the rest of the body is doing (who might not much need the local weekly homily as their staple these days, given the riches available via these media, even though we need to engage with each other), or what evangelism and kingdom dynamics at home and work might look like; as we have so centralised and majored on the role of the clergy as being "the ministry". Thats my experience and reflection anyway. I haven't read all the docs cited above and no doubt they say otherwise and tell me how partnered the laity should be, but seems such foundational questions of why the division even exists are not well addressed in my circles. Appreciate any redirection to a discussion of how clergy and laity are indeed a biblical division. Wouldn't mind if it was empowering for the whole church - but seems often to risk clipping as many wings as it trains -if not more - which is why i risk asking this. thanks!

  11. John,
    re: the original posting & only homosexuality & bishops create interest. Sad state of affairs indeed.

    Put something on about Covenant of Redemption, you'll get loads of us chipping in. I just thought of it because it's Christmas, & I just read,

    "The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David" &
    "You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save HIS people from their sins"

    Sounds very covenant of redemption to me. That would generate some responses - wouldn't it? A Christmasological theme.

    PS Perry, I'm sure that's right, Evangelism/Pastoring is often blury, I guess they are both part of the making disciplines thing.

    1. Darren,

      While I empathise with your desire to confine this blog to an all male, all academic, all priested club - which would surely happen if it turned into an offshoot of Proclamation Trust, there are few Christian blogs which either welcome or allow females to express an intuitive viewpoint on the way that Anglicanism expresses itself.

      If evangelism IS talked about purely from an events/technique POV, then perhaps clergy and bishops need to lose some of their inability to mix with anybody but Christians and experience for themselves the most proven method of evangelism there is - i.e. "friendship evangelism".

      Of course, reading through Mark Burkhill's "Better Bishops" (in Resource Section as a download on Reform's website), it is hard to imagine male clergy coming off their pulpit pedestals to become a proper friend in the world's terms. It is something with which women are primarily familiar.

      Reading Reform's response to the setting up of a working party to facilitate the speedy ordination of women bishops, I cannot comprehend why they are surprised that they are not included when they specifically state that "male headship" governs their response in this area.

      And John, I do hope that this blog does not become a male-only enclave !

      Beryl Polden, Wirral

    2. Is friendship evangelism really as effective as it seems? If a non-Christian starts coming regularly to church because of a pre-existing friendship with a Christian, how do we know they've actually been converted or whether they're just doing it out of respect for their Christian friend?

      Also Beryl I don't understand why you don't understand why Reform are puzzled at the narrowness of representation in the working party. Seems pretty obvious to me!


  12. Beryl,

    Sorry, I'm totally baffled by your posting. The Proc Trust isn't an Anglican thing (But welcomes them). I've not been to anything run by them for about 3 years either (although I am in the New Year). As I remember, they just run conferences & courses to improve preaching. Pretty narrow remit, which is why they are good at what they do. They're not involved in politics.

    I fact I don't go to an Anglican Church! That's not to say Anglican issues don't effect me. In fact re-read what I'd said to you, is nothing about gender specific issues, merely, yes - I agree all member ministry is very important. BUT there is a place for clergy.

    Women welcome on the blog... it's John's blog, I can't see what stops women posting here. A few do, surely it's up to women to choose what they read and write. Just as it is for men.

    Academic? What is? Is delving deeper into the Bible & looking for connections academic? If so, guilty as charged.

    Re: Reform - I don't know. But if the question of the working group is something to do with provision that certain people feel that they need, it probably makes sense to ask them, rather that telling them - wouldn't it?

    Darren Moore

    1. Things may have changed since my student days. In the 90s Proc trust were very active in certain universities (e.g. Oxbridge), and at ours had a network of Christian union reps which (taken positively) were there to support student CUs, or (taken negatively) were there to make sure nothing too charismatic went on. There was (still is?) a lot of overlap with UCCF. I also know people who have gained greatly from the Cornhill preaching course, but where I studied it represented a strong conservative evangelical Anglican presence, very active among students. And at times that got political, within the student Christian scene at least.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. John, I'm writing just to encourage you. I'm very sorry that in 36 years there you have been neither challenged or supported by your Bishops regarding evangelistic endeavors and theological understandings. ('Any forward move ... in evangelism must begin with the clergy themselves, and with their coming together to gain a new liberation into the vision of the glory of God. Our first recommendation as a Commission is that the Bishops (if they have not already done so) should arrange for gatherings of their clergy for this purpose. (90) That was in 1945. Yet what bishop has done so? I am not saying there are none, but certainly none under whom I have served (which is several). Indeed in all my thirty six years (almost to the day) in ordained ministry, none of those bishops has tested me on my understanding of any theological issue whatsoever, let alone the gospel itself.')

    If that had been my experience I would also be worried and disheartened. The good news is however my experience is absolutely the opposite. My selection involved a very thorough grilling indeed and my training at Cranmer Hall, Durham was first rate with strong emphasis on evangelism, mission, demanding exegesis (Thank you Richard Briggs) and systematic theology (David Clough and George Morley). Ongoing IME continued that training and since becoming an incumbent our deanery holds regular meetings, including bible study and preaching training. My Suffragen Bishop hosts a rural theology meeting several times a year with an excellent standard of theological input and discussion and challenge, and yes he is quite ready to challenge any dodgy woolly theological musings.)

    In fact, my whole upbringing since a child placed great emphasis both on evangelism and good preaching (Thank you Queens Road Methodist Church Hong Kong and Hong Kong YMCA). As a young person I was regularly involved in evangelistic endeavours and outreach through YWAM.

    As an lay adult in the C of E the New Wine Charismatic Church encouraged me to attend the inspiring Preach the Word course at Westminster chapel, identified my gifts for preaching, helped me train as a reader during which time both the clergy and laity reviewed the theology underlying my sermons regularly and were not afraid to challenge it. At interview for one post the interviewing Bishop asked explicitly for an account of who I had led to faith. It has been a privilege over the years to discover that Christ does use me, along with many others, to help Him bring people to faith and to encourage people to increasing spiritual maturity. I know this as, rather encouragingly people contact me, sometimes 10 -15 years after the event to say so. Although it is often clear that my role in any conversion is often a small bit part - in reality it was a team effort with the Holy Spirit hard at work through many different people in that persons life.

    And the Women Bishop's debate? Well the fiasco that was the vote this year has opened many a door for conversation and evangelism - at the cafe, on the train, with random strangers at the bus stop... people are trying to make sense of it and it has involved a fair amount of apologetics in the process. So while the vote was pretty devastating (for me anyway) I do thank God, with St Paul, that in all these things Christ can be preached. Take heart, John, evangelistically things may not be as grim overall, as they seem to be where you are.

  15. Beryl

    I quite enjoyed reading your post then I read "it is hard to imagine male clergy coming off their pulpit pedestals to become a proper friend in the world's terms. It is something with which women are primarily familiar"

    IF....! this is true, then you are providing yet more evidence that women and men minister in different ways as the bible indicates we should be aware of.

    You are not of course making a crude point about Christian men in leadership positions in the Church?

    If you were saying that men should try to reach people for Christ by being like women, then no wonder male clergy are worried about the future of the church under Women Bishops!


  16. liciencetobless,
    I think you're right about the women bishop thing. Not many non-Christians have brought it up with me, but when they have it's quickly moved to more significant eternal issues. So net result for me (OK, outside of C of E), has been good. I'd be interested to know if you think your IME is in any way up to the standard of what you have recieved through New Wine & Westminster Chapel. Not everything I have heard at Diocesan level would be below that standard... but most.

    Yes there are many ironies in Beryl's comment. But that may be taken down and used in evidence against you. Notice how what I DID NOT say was with me! It just becomes a slightly childish, "girls are better than boys" thing, or as has now become, "boys are broken girls". I'm really not sure where becoming proper friends thing comes from, or any real evidence. I've met socially dysfuntional people of both genders. Interesting comment from my wife, 1st reaction - "mmm, does that mean girls can't do theology? I like talking about covenant of redemption etc... so does our 6 year old son... he uses different words of course", 2nd reaction, "I don't bother with these blogs, not because of the untra-conservatives! - But those who keep trying to trip them up, catch them in their words - life's too short. You're more robust."

    Darren Moore

    1. Darren

      No idea what you just said to me in the post above!


  17. A thought for Beryl, Peter Kirk & those who either self-identify or might be identified by others as "Open Evangelical".

    A glance over comments here, on Fulcrum, or elsewhere is full of criticism for those whose position is "conservative" or "Reformed" Evangelical (NB, not neccesarily the same). YET, the same people would take offence if called liberal. Presumably if a liberal (proper) called you "like Darren", you'd take equal offence. Making "open evenagelicals" - balanced, unlike those close minded Reform types, or those Bible ignoring liberals.

    The fact is EVERYONE claiming the name Christian believes themselves to have a balanced set of beliefs. And that this balance is Biblically driven.

    EVERYONE can find someone more liberal or conservative than they are. I am in, what most would consider, a conservative denomination. I am probably at the fluffy end! & we could look at the Associate Presbyterians and the Strict Baptists and comment how outrageously conservative they are (compared to us balanced Evangelical Presbyterians). In fact, we have very good relationships with them (& those who think we're too "fussy"). We understand each other, why we do what we do. As someone once said, good fences make good neighbours. Clarity as to what one thinks, helps us work out what matters and what doesn't. Where we can and can't work together. E.g. we have lots of cross over with the strict baptists re- children's events and I hope soon, training. The fact I can't even take communion there, I think is wrong (they can with us), but it doesn't make them bad people.

    In fact, that is one of the great ironies of what goes on, on the web. Those at the conservative end, actually work very well across denominations, beyond just joint services. They tend to be involved in local politics, voluntary work, sports clubs etc. Often, like me, not from Church backgrounds, so have "colourful" extended family and friends, who don't in anyway comply with what we believe.

    The reason why I think it works, is that we engage in each others words, attributing the best motives to why people do/believe what they do. Actually, even an atheist. So, I get what a liberal is trying to do, in making Christianity more "relevant". I think they are mistaken (methodologically) and actually taking things in the opposite direction to where they intend. But I do get it. Same with "open evangelical" etc.

    HOWEVER, it seems that those at the more conservative end, are almost always attributed with some sinister motive to bring down the world as we know it. Even though we have the same views as some of the churches heroes of the faith. Views on homosexuality, or women bishops, surely can't be from the Bible- "they must be gay bashing women haters who can't speak to people... of course, how else can't they agree with me" It is just avoiding the hard work of getting to know people and see the world from their perspective. If they say they're not viewing women (say) as 2nd class citizens, maybe, it's because they don't? Worth a thought. It's just a bit lazy to associate people with a nasty thing, to discredit them & their ideas. Rather than taking them on the ground of the idea itself.

    And that's why, to take the e.g. of women bishops, nobody pro, every seems troubled by the fact that there are a few arguments for... that all contradict each other (it was practised vs we've developed our understanding vs in the Bible vs can't believe/need to update etc. etc.) & the same with other "debates" too.

    Sorry, long winded, didn't have time to write something shorter.

    But in summary.... beware of thinking that you're balanced! Beware of anyone claiming to be balanced!

    Darren Moore

    1. Thank you, Darren, I would put the last part differently - let's all claim to be balanced and try to live up to that claim - but don't call others unbalanced. However, for the sake of balance, I should point out that some people on the conservative end also tend "to associate people with a nasty thing [e.g. liberalism], to discredit them & their ideas." Let's indeed discuss the issue itself.

      But I'm sorry, I don't take the logic of how someone can "say they're not viewing women (say) as 2nd class citizens" while at the same time denying women access to 1st class jobs. If on your interpretation this is scriptural, then so be it, but then accept that scripture, as you interpret it, views women as 2nd class citizens.

      I'm happy to be able to discuss our differences, in a mostly friendly way, on this blog. But that ability is threatened by those who throw around baseless allegations of intolerance.

    2. Darren,

      Thank you for your last - with which I basically agree!

      Having read Mark Burkhill's "Better Bishops", it seemed to me that there was little left for a woman to do but everything that lay outside the scope of what men were God-ordained or entitled to do - i.e preach, teach and pastor their own sex and children (apart from catering and cleaning of course).
      In my book, Reform as an organisation has reduced the capacity for "friendship evangelism" for all evangelicals

      I see Christianity as primarily relational, replicating the relationship that God has with His world through Jesus Christ. He does not force us to love Him - He woos us. In an age when humankind outside of Christ only seeks to hear what it wants to hear, truth without love is not well-received. And they are not obliged to listen either.

      It is well-said that those weaned on truth come to regret their lack of love and those weaned on love come to regret their lack of truth - but there must be many in between who, thankfully, find a middle ground through Alpha, New Wine, and many more non-denominational means. Even Apostle Paul desired to become all things to all men that he might win some.

      Yes, I'll admit that being called a liberal by Gerald Bray got my back up when my only desire has been to serve God in the capacity to which He's called me as an evangelical. But it doesn't alter a desire for balance not only in my life but the lives of other Christians.

      Writing as someone who has known Jesus Christ for over 60 years and brought up in a Brethren-educated Pentecostal assembly.

      Beryl Polden, Wirral

      Why can't we - as men and women together jointly - led by husband-and-wife teams, neither subservient to each other but subservient to Christ - go forward together under the aegis of the Holy Spirit? What a model this would be to not-yet believers?


    3. Peter

      "I don't take the logic of how someone can "say they're not viewing women (say) as 2nd class citizens" while at the same time denying women access to 1st class jobs. If on your interpretation this is scriptural, then so be it, but then accept that scripture, as you interpret it, views women as 2nd class citizens"

      It is not a job Peter! That is part of the issue. There are no first or second class people in Christ. However, all of us in God's Church have different roles.

      Nor first class not second class, just different roles.

      THE Sermon on the Mount sums it up beautifully.


    4. OK, Phil, let me amend "1st class jobs" to "roles in the church which are understood by most in the church as well as in the world as 1st class". If it were indeed true that God denies these roles to women, then he is giving these women a second class position as understood by the world and much of the church. And if outsiders perceive the church as giving this second class position to women, that is a scandal and stumbling block which is leading many, men as well as women, to reject Christ. Is that what you want?

    5. Peter

      "that is a scandal and stumbling block which is leading many, men as well as women, to reject Christ. Is that what you want?"

      It is not what I want it it what God wants. We are called to give up everything for Christ. Most people are not willing to be transformed/born again whatever you want to call it.

      We are to follow his commands not to make his will fit what we consider is right.

      God should be in the driving seat of our lives. Most people want to kick God out and drive themselves!

      We can drive so much better after all?


    6. Phil, are you saying that God wants people to reject Christ? While I agree that we must follow his commands, where these are clear (and they are certainly not clear that the church should have men but not women as bishops in the current sense), we are also warned of the serious consequences of causing just one little one to stumble.

    7. Peter

      Most people reject Jesus. Most people would reject Jesus if he was born again say to a refugee in a hostel in one of our inner cities tomorrow.

      We would question his authority, the authenticity of his miracles, his (no doubt) direct and uncomfortable teaching, the people he chose to rasie up and the people he chose to be with. (How dare he spend time in the red light district—he cannot be a real Christian—etc etc)

      People would reject him — again-- even if he approved of Women Bishops!

      Women Bishops are not the the rock that causes people to stumble Peter, For them what Jesus says he is, is the rock on which they stumble and what Jesus demands from them in return for a path to salvation.

      Have a good Christmas


  18. OK,
    So Peter, Does that mean as a Minister I am "better" than, say Phil, who is not? That's what complimentarianism is all all about. Looking at Scripture & saying - some how 2 values have to be held together. In our world they can't be. But we're seeing the world in a dramatically different way.

    I think that's why these debates about women bishops don't stand much hope. I'm not sure people want to understand a conservative view point. By the way, in our church it's rarely discussed, other than "really - what is going on over there?" & we are 50/50 on gender, with a good spread of ages and I THINK, all our women are graduates or have had some sort of profesional/managerial role.

    Peter & Beryl, So is being called "liberal", the same as being called a violent gay bashing woman hater? Is liberal a term of offence? Why? Isn't it like calling me fat? I don't like that. But there is a degree of truth in it, I'm certainly fat compared to John, but not as fat as..., well some other people. So, if someone calls you liberal - it's worth asking why, isn't it? It could just be a dismissive way of saying, "you don't agree with me, the arbiter of truth". OR it may have substance. For me, I tend not to think of someone as liberal by what they THINK, rather, HOW they got to think it. I.e. it's about methodology, not conclusions.

    Beryl, What about single people? Does one have to be married for your model to work? Earlier were suggesting, men were bad at this.

    & Reform & friendship Evangelism... really? Where do you get this stuff? I would have thought "Reform" type churches rely on friendship TOO much! They are always emphasising inviting people to things, running courses like "6 steps to talking about Jesus", & doing courses & plugging books about friendship evangelism. That's fine. But what about reaching people who aren't our friends!?!? People we don't know... or our enemies.

    1. Darren, I am not saying that a minister, or a bishop, is "better" than any other person. But the church has selected them as an appropriate person for a highly responsible role, and compensates them accordingly - a bishop more than an ordinary incumbent, implying a higher value. I take your point about holding two values together, but you need to do better to explain that to the world and to most of the church, so that you don't appear schizophrenic, or hypocritical.

      If "liberal" is used, as it is by some, simply to dismiss my arguments, then it is being used as a term of offence, and I take offence. If it is being used as a serious attempt to describe my theology, it is simply being used inaccurately, and I will attempt to explain the inaccuracy. My methodology is not liberal because it starts with the power of God working in this world, not with human aspirations. But that doesn't stop me rejecting fundamentalism and arguing against conservative misunderstandings of the Bible.

    2. Peter, your final sentence makes me think that for you, WB is but the tip of the iceberg; and it makes me wonder what sort of hidden agenda you may have in store.

      This leads me to make the following very simple observation:

      So far you've been reasoning for WB/WO purely as it were "in vacuo", divorced from any considerations that might be related. Could I therefore ask you to explain why you believe that THIS CoE, at THIS time, in THIS state, is any place to be ardently desiring to see move through WO to WB?

      Do you really believe there are no bigger fish to fry?

      Does it bother you in the slightest that so many of its clergy (never mind pewfillers) disbelieve so many important Christian doctrines - and now ethics?

      Above all, do you recognise that if as an evangelical you trumpet your enthusiasm for WB in THIS ecclesiastical context, it will just be taken up as a leveraging device to take a liberal agenda further - in a word, that you will be (and in fact are being) co-opted?

      Are you clear-sighted enough to admit that for evangelicals of your persuasion to spend energy working for WB at this time, place and church, is heart-breakingly, desperately naive? Do you possess even the slightest realistic "understanding of the times"?

      Unless, of course, you happen to support some of the other items in the liberals' little list - which in your case I'm sure you don't - but I'm not too sure about all self-styled evangelicals waving the WB flag right now.

      Sorry to be so frank. However the times demand it.


    3. Dan, you completely misunderstand me. I am not part of a liberal conspiracy. I will not be co-opted by the agendas of liberals or of conservatives. I agree that the Church of England has many other important issues to face, and that it should put the women bishops debate behind it and move on.

      But I can't help asking: Are you clear-sighted enough to admit that for evangelicals of your persuasion to spend energy working AGAINST WB at this time, place and church, is heart-breakingly, desperately naive?

  19. I'm not sure that a liberal would have a problem with that definition. Schlamacher, would give a big Amen to that. In fact Warfield was quite warm towards him, as a bloke.

    I think though I'm getting where we're crossing wires. I don't think a bishop is more responsible (I'm in a denomination without them, we oversee each other). Strictly, even in the C of E, a bishop is "just" a Presbyter with a specific role.

    BUT, I am really concerned with, "all women can do is..." then a list of, in my mind, really important jobs! Which ever gender does them. Julian Mann recently did a little piece on this.

    This is where the wires cross. It's not that 1 group values 1 gender more than another. It's that there are a group of people that value some job/roles more than another. If someone stopped doing one of these servant/Jesus jobs for a week, the church would collapse! Just as much as without a Pastor... in fact, they can cope without a Pastor for a while... or Bishops at all!

  20. PS if we think bishops/pastors are better/more responsible, or even give that impression - we need to repent (1 good reason for not take titles or wearing distinctive clothes)

    1. Darren, I am puzzled by your rejection of the word "responsible" in reference to pastors and bishops. Surely they are officially given responsibility for certain work within the church, and this is a biblical concept - see Acts 6:3 NIV. I am not suggesting that pastors and bishops are necessarily more responsible, in general terms, than others in the church, but the church rightly takes care to select for these roles people who have the gifts and general attitude to take on such responsibilities.

      As for women's jobs in the church being as important as being a bishop, people might start to believe that when the church gives its cleaning ladies stipends more than £40,000, generous expenses, and mediaeval castles to live in.

  21. "As for women's jobs in the church being as important as being a bishop, people might start to believe that when the church gives its cleaning ladies stipends more than £40,000, generous expenses, and mediaeval castles to live in."

    Reading the posts above, and from my own experience down the years in various synods, we need first off to define the Biblical role of a 'Bishop'. In the eyes of the world, the CofE is denying promotion to women (only we call it "preferment")
    The CofE certainly is off base on this, as it is on remuneration and living accomodation. (That goes for some clergy housing as well). The discussion ought to have taken place years ago as there is no scriptural basis for 'pay grades' for pastors. A 'stipend' is not a reward for work done, or reponsiblities undertaken, simply a subsistence allowance to free up a pastor from the need to earn his living. The church should not need to make excuses for the way it does things - What it does need to do is have a responsibility of care for its pastors which is certainly lacking in some quarters at present.

    1. tio, I agree that this issue needs to be sorted out. The church needs to be clear whether it is rewarding clergy, bishops, cleaning ladies etc for the work they do and in proportion to its perceived value, or whether it is providing them with the means to live according to their needs. This is an equally important issue in the world, as we face the international inflation of salaries for senior executives while their ordinary employees barely receive a living wage. We need to ask, does the church copy capitalism, or does it copy (idealised) socialism, or can it find its own values for the Kingdom of God?

    2. Agreed

      A young vicar near me is struggling with supporting a wife and four children, whilst another vicar uses his stipend as pocket money as his wife has a senior management position and earning over £200k

      So one family in the church struggles on 20K and another has 220k. On struggles to run a car (in fact he cycles around the parish the other takes foreign holidays 2 to 3 times a year and runs two new cars and has a boat and a motor home for recreation.

      It is the way of the world but should it be the way of the church?

      Simple rule could be that stipends are the same at every level in the Church and not payable when gross income exceeds £50K

      A stipend could consist of a base amount of say £12k and an increase of say £8k for every non working dependant.

      This would show the that the church values families and gives acknowedgment to the contribution that 100s of vicar's wives make to the Church and currently goes unrecognised.


    3. I can certainly agree that the church needs to sort out its position on clergy wives, and husbands. I guess a vicar whose husband had "a senior management position and earning over £200k" would be required to be non-stipendiary, like so many female clergy. But at the moment the church seems to ignore them.

      A few years ago a friend whose husband was an ordinand told me how she was completely ignored by the diocese right through the process, from when her husband first saw the DDO up to his ordination service (as deacon). Indeed I found her in tears at that service, having been left for days to look after young children on her own while her husband was sent off on retreat. I don't think she even saw him until after it was all over, except in the distance as she sat in the congregation. She is a lady with a lot of gifts, who could have been a good ordination candidate herself but didn't want it, and saw her calling as supporting her husband's ministry, not in making a living for him. But her contribution was totally unrecognized in her home diocese. I hope it is better recognized in the diocese the family moved to.

  22. Darren, my Diocese, together with surrounding dioceses, worked together on IME and invested a great deal of effort and resources in it. Unlike some diocese they insist on the full four year curacy. The IME pathway is fairly new ( I think I was one of the first or second year under new guidelines) so inevitably, as with any new training scheme there have been some inconsistencies of standard, but some parts are excellent and certainly as good as what I've received from New Wine and Westminster Chapel. The Westminster Chapel programme had an excellent quality of speaker and presentation but was very poor on interaction (please bear in mind this was the first series of Preach the Word and it may have developed since then) so used a very small range of educational strategies and I think limited its effectiveness. It was disappointing that they failed to have ANY women teaching about preaching at all, hopefully things will have changed by now. I have to pay to go to New Wine leadership conferences which I do now and then, but as I survive on a stipend and have needed to part finance an MA in theology and ministry undertaken as part of the IME pathway, time and funds to do that are limited, I've found the personal contact with others encouraging, and thought provoking, some of the speakers were inspirational, but overall my IME was a higher standard of input. I'd like to qualify that to some extent - IME and New Wine have different roles so I'm not sure its fair to compare weekend leadership conferences, for example, with a carefully thought out four year training programme which includes input from leading theological academics and ministerial practitioners, seminars, essays, assessments, support groups etc.? Training Incumbents vary widely as well and form a crucial part of the IME package.

  23. So as the year draws to a close, what do we believe - what do we believe should be believed - to be saved "By grace alone, through faith alone". And do we care more about thet being believed and proclaimed in and through the Church of England to the English nation than we do about the preservation of the Church or even its reformation in some image we value, however passionately?

  24. So as the year draws to a close, what do we believe - what do we believe should be believed - to be saved "By grace alone, through faith alone". And do we care more about thet being believed and proclaimed in and through the Church of England to the English nation than we do about the preservation of the Church or even its reformation in some image we value, however passionately?

    1. Speaking for myself, I do believe that salvation is "by grace alone through faith alone" but that salvation must be "worked out" in dependency on Jesus Christ.

      Living water flowing into a pond/lake with no outlet makes for a stagnant and non-living pool. Congregations with no capacity for expressing/explaining their faith to family and friends will quickly go stale. So more interactive housegroups, more sessions on how to give away your faith - and perhaps a little less dogmatic theology.

      A few more "devil's advocates" to challenge belief and more interaction from the pulpit rather than mind-numbing exegesis please! I want to be asked what I think rather than being told what to think - because God created us all with a mind!

      Beryl Polden, Wirral

  25. It is a tragedy that Colin Slee died before he started/finished his book on the modern episcopate. I believe he was frustrated that they were all so 'safe' and managerial.

  26. John,
    You wrote; My personal dream would be ‘every parish an evangelizing parish’.
    Brilliant and so true. I have come to the conclusion that the problems that we are having with Government can't be resolved solely through enlightened politics. We need a responsive population to welcome moral ethics. Hence evangelism is at the core of a safe future for this nation.

  27. e need a responsive population to welcome moral ethics.

    So true but how do we do this?

    "We teach these great lessons (In Church)but we don't push it to the point of obedience. And Satan loves that. I'm talking about walking alongside someone—rebuking, exhorting, and getting them to realize they need to repent or they're living in disobedience."

    Francis Chan

    How much of this do we do in the CofE? Answer hardly any, everyone is their own master (and their own god)


  28. The church needs bishops who know about evangelism because they have led parishes that were active in evangelism. Tony Porter has been mentioned who was the rector of Holy Trinity Platt Fields and Graham Kings was iat St Mary's Islington and Donald Allister at St Mary's Cheadle. The question then is what they do now. Looking at the figures for Chelmsford, it seems that each parish will review at most the oversight of a bishop for one day a year and an archdeacon for two. For the church to become effective in evangelism it needs to develop local lay leaders and train them as home group and Alpha or Christianity Explored leaders. They would then know about personal evangelism before they went to theological college and whilst they had an ordinary job.

    West Yorkshire

  29. Is a believing bishop an oxymoron?