For the Sake of Ten
The turmoil caused by the Bishop of Oxford’s advocacy of teaching contrary to the Bible and Church of England doctrine has shown the undisguised contempt the progressive wing of the Church has for its standards.
As this story has percolated through the orthodox Anglican community, there have been more tut-tutting than calls to action. Typical reactions include:
- “There is no remedy for bishops who teach falsely!”
- “There’s nothing we can do!”
- “The Church of England is finished—this is it!”
- “CDMs (Church Disciplinary Measures) do not apply to doctrine.”
- “CDMs do not apply to bishops.”
All that is missing is Henny Penny running around shouting, “The sky is falling.”
One does not have to grow up on a cattle farm to recognise the unmistakeable odour of Gentleman Cow Manure. These platitudes are as rank-smelling as the pronouncements from the Bishop of Oxford and fellow ‘progressive’ clerics, endlessly reminding us how little Jesus really knew about human nature and divine order.
Recourse already exists on the books. Contrary to evangelical folk-wisdom, ecclesiastical charges can be filed against Bishop Steven Croft. It requires at least five orthodox incumbents and five lay members of Oxford Diocese to invoke the Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions Measure, 1963. Such decisive action would be worth a thousand hand-wringing statements put out by evangelical groupings, which are now past their sell-by date as far as the national media is concerned.
The 1963 Measure (Section 10 F40 A1) states:
The Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved has original jurisdiction to hear and determine … proceedings upon articles charging an offence against the laws ecclesiastical involving matter of doctrine ritual or ceremonial committed by … an archbishop or a bishop who, at one of those times, was a diocesan or a suffragan commissioned by a diocesan or (not being either a diocesan or a suffragan) held preferment in a diocese or resided therein.
Will it cost money? Yes of course. Are there not enough people who love Jesus within the Church of England to provide not only the funds necessary but the legal expertise?
Will it be distasteful? Undoubtedly.
Is it necessary? If not now, when?
Are there ten courageous orthodox clergy and lay members in the Diocese of Oxford? We do not yet know.