Proper Bishops, Please
by the Northern Churchman
In their proposals on human sexuality, the College of Bishops have given the Church of England a managerial solution to theological and moral issues. They have sought a compromise detached from Scripture and doctrine, Their catchall slogan of ‘radical inclusion’ is anything but; it owes nothing to the radix (root) of our faith, God’s Word. They advocate change without ever having made the case for it from the Bible (see Article XX). Since they have abandoned any pretence of doing theology the Anglican way, ought they not now abandon their pretence of being Anglican bishops?
Could you imagine JC Ryle ever appending his signature to such a document, or commending it to his diocesan clergy? The Reformation Bishops Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley gave their lives because they acknowledged they had indeed changed the doctrine of the Church – back to a closer conformity to Scripture. They didn’t pretend doctrinal change had not occurred; they went to the stake, repudiating the unbiblical doctrines of the medieval Church. Oh, to have Bishops with a tenth of that conviction today, able to stand strong against an unfavourable letter in the Guardian or the howl of a Twitter rent-a-mob. Could any of the bishops be mentioned as having the gravitas of Hooker, Moule, Temple, or Coggan?
Imagine the present crop of purple-shirted bureaucrats at the Council of Nicaea. “Can’t we admit that Arius and his followers have a point?” argues one of their number, Justinian Welbius. “After all, they have arrived at their position after much prayer and study. We have therefore proposed an alternative form of the Creed, omitting phrases proclaiming Jesus as the divine second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God. This alternative form is to be used on a voluntary basis. We believe it will help many heretics to feel included and find their place within the Church. We warmly commend this to all as a way forward.”
In their proposals to General Synod this month:
- The bishops have changed the doctrine of marriage, How can sexual pairings (heterosexual as well as homosexual) outside marriage be blessed without damaging our understanding of marriage as “a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.”?
- The Bishops have changed the doctrine of sin. If sex outside marriage is to be celebrated and blessed, it is no longer a sin to be repented of, or avoided. Indeed it is interesting to note how many progressives have begun to openly admit how they have broken existing discipline by conducting same-sex blessings, or having non-celibate civil partnerships. They act as if the doctrine has already changed and they publicise it with impunity.
- The Bishops have have changed the doctrine of salvation. Christ did not die to save people from sexual sins, if they take place within a committed relationship, apparently.
- The Bishops have changed the doctrine of Scripture. No longer is the Bible the touchstone for Church doctrine or practice; inconvenient truths can be set aside when the clamour from society becomes too loud to ignore. Indeed the Bishops appear to have forgotten any previous teaching issued in their name in the last few decades. Is this Year Zero for the Church of England where we are free to improvise or imagine the Christian faith with little regard for the past and for authority?
GK Chesterton had a term for those who turned their back on the past, on Scripture, tradition and doctrine: “the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.” Good Lord, deliver us.
The Northern Churchman has been in pastoral ministry for more othan twenty-five years.