Another scandal strikes at the heart of the Church of England

I am almost starting to feel sorry for Archbishop Justin Welby.

Recently he has had to deal with a child abuse scandal in which his detractors suggested he could be implicated, the rejection by his clergy of a report on human sexuality written at great expense by his bishops – in reality, the average British schoolboy knows more about sex than any bishop and could have produced something similar for nothing – and has squandered countless carbon credits flying all over Africa trying to drum up support for his bishop’s opinions about sex – the ones his own clergy just rejected.

And now, we have the last straw, the coup de grâce, the final assault on Canterbury’s mission to reconcile refined, effete, public school cultivated homosexuality with the raw condemnations one unavoidably stumbles across in Scripture.

Someone has placed plastic furniture in a 12th Century Church.

Various theories have been suggested as to the reason for this clear act of sabotage. The most plausible is that by placing a by-product of the demon fossil fuel, oil, in a sacred space, Welby’s enemies are making a subtle reference to his time as an oil executive, thereby calling into question his credentials as a green bishop, a true devotee of Gaia, the fourth person of our 21st century augmented Trinity.

Kevin Sims, the person who first spotted this outrage, has his own explanation: it’s a deliberate attempt to create an aesthetic aberration. And, apparently, the change was made without going through the proper procedures. As he says: “that means effectively anyone could change anything”. Like marrying people of the same sex, for example. It’s a slippery slope.

From here:

A vicar faces an official complaint for installing a childrens’ plastic table and chairs in a 12th century church.

Rector Lynda Klimas introduced the pint-sized white furniture set as a way to keep young children entertained during services.

But a disgruntled churchgoer has made an official complaint as he feels it has no place in the “historically sensitive and sacred” Lady Chapel.

The matter will now be investigated and, if taken to a tribunal, Rev Kilmas could be given a “lifelong prohibition from exercising any ministerial functions”.

Kevin Sims, 67, who has been attending the St Mary the Virgin Church for 20 years, said: “I definitely do not feel the number of children warrants it. My main issues are for aesthetic reasons and reasons of demand.

“There are procedures in place that anyone who makes changes in church has to go through.

“My concern is that if nothing is done it means effectively anyone could change anything.”

Justin Welby wants to wipe out AIDS by 2030

Read and watch here.

There is nothing particularly surprising about this since the Anglican church seems to have an obsessive interest in making broad declarations about things over which it has no control or influence. When Anglican leaders are not parading their impotence by Making Poverty History or demanding justice on behalf of the climate, they are, with no medical knowledge whatsoever and a diminished confidence in the efficacy of prayer to heal, trumpeting that AIDS is to be banished by 2030. But why AIDS?

As you can see from the following chart, heart disease kills five time the number of people as AIDS. Even diarrhoea kills as many people as AIDS. Why isn’t the Archbishop of Canterbury telling us what a great privilege it is to be invited to give a message on the fight against diarrhoea?

disease

The reason, I suspect, is that, in a similar vein to Romans 1:18-32, as the church’s interest in eternity has waned, so its interest in sex – homosexual sex in particular – has increased, attracting a disproportionate number of homosexual clergy.

Although AIDS can be spread through heterosexual contact, the preferred way to contract it is still through homosexual activity. As this article points out, homosexual men are more severely affected by HIV than any other group in the United States.”

So for Anglican leaders, combating AIDS is a species of group self-interest.

More on the Archbishop of Uganda’s departure from the Primates’ gathering

Archbishop Stanley Ntagali’s statement below makes it reasonably clear whose side – no one should be under the illusion that there are no sides in this disagreement – Justin Welby is on: TEC’s and the ACoC’s. This doesn’t bode well for enforcing the sanctions that were placed against TEC, nor does it create much confidence that in three years’ time, if TEC has not repented, much will be done to further censure them. The success of the liberal technique of wearing everyone down through the passage of time and endless enervating conversation is well established and will be employed during the next three years.

The fact that, by the end of the meeting, there was any criticism of TEC at all was little short of miraculous.

To compensate for this unforeseen lapse, the first thing Welby did after the meetings were over, was apologise for the “hurt and pain” the Anglican church has inflicted on lesbian, gay and transgender people”

From here (my emphasis):

Unfortunately, neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor any of the other structures of the Anglican Communion were able to discipline the Episcopal Church USA. That meant that the Anglican Communion had become like the time in the Book of Judges when God’s judgment was upon the people of God because it says, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Even the Anglican Church of Canada has allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in their church.

We had hoped that the meeting this past week would restore godly order to the Anglican Communion and re-establish the Bible as the authority for our faith and morals.

On the second day of the meeting, I moved a resolution to ask the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to voluntarily withdraw from all Anglican Communion groups. It grieves me to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was chairing the meeting, did not take my resolution seriously and simply moved on to another matter without ever allowing any discussion on it.

At that point in the meeting, I realized that the process that had been set up would not allow us to accomplish the purpose for which we had come.

The time for dialogue is over

In a recent pastoral letter, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council said:

My experience of this new wineskin in North America brought home to me just how much is at stake when the Primates of the Communion meet in Canterbury at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury next January. I believe this will be an historic meeting unlike anything that has gone before. There is now a shared realisation that the time for dialogue is over and there must be a decision that will settle the future direction of the Communion and free us from being dragged down by controversy and confusion.

The Anglican Church of Canada has set up a Commission consisting of theologians, bishops and laity to initiate a broad consultation on how to interpret “the time for dialogue is over” in the light of cultural context while leaving a generous space for deep disagreement. And even mutual criticism.

We all understand, of course, that the one thing it cannot mean is that there really will be no more dialogue because dialogue is all that is left in Western Anglicanism.

Preliminary findings of the Commission lean towards the Post-Modernist Redaction hermeneutic, where “is over” is a later addition caused by cosmic ray induced bit errors in the memory hosting the original document. The reading should be: “the time for dialogue!”

The Commission will recommend a conscience clause for clergy who wish to exercise the deeply unAnglican option of shutting up.

Justin Welby and the Dead Parrot

There have been numerous articles – here is an example – written about Justin Welby’s attempt to inject an illusory aura of unity into something that has been decomposing since it expired in 2003: the Anglican Communion. Rowan Williams tried to do this too by channelling Hegel; he failed miserably – does anyone remember the Covenant? – and retreated to academia.

Justin Welby is inviting the Anglican primates to a “special gathering” in January 2016 to “look afresh at our ways of working as a Communion”.

The Anglican Church of Canada has its own parochial perspective on all this. In a 2012 visit to see Justin Welby, Fred Hiltz expressed his “ongoing concern about efforts by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to be recognized by the Church of England”. The last thing the rapidly dwindling Anglican Church of Canada needs is more competition from another Anglican Province in North America – one that is recognised by Canterbury. Hiltz’s worst fears may be coming to a nail-biting climax since ACNA’s Foley Beach has been invited to the January 2016 gathering; it looks likely that he will attend. The Anglican Journal sees this as “fuelling the controversy”, omitting the obvious fact that the controversy was ignited by Hiltz and Jefferts-Shori in the first place when they decided to promote same-sex blessings in spite of strenuous protests from the rest of the Communion:

Fuelling the controversy was an invitation extended by Welby to Archbishop Foley Beach, head bishop of the Anglican Church in North America, to be present for part of the meeting.

Welby points out:

We each live in a different context.

“The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together.

If that sounds like the old familiar Anglican Fudge it’s probably because it is. The ACoC and TEC are not “faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ”. That has always been the problem, is still the problem and unless Jesus returns before January will almost certainly continue to be the problem.

Happily, the GAFCON primates, having already been fed Anglican Fudge to the point of gagging, see what is going on perfectly clearly and have issued something that is quite unfamiliar to Western Anglicans: a lucid statement. It contains this:

It is on this basis that the GAFCON Primates will prayerfully consider their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. They recognize that the crisis in the Communion is not primarily a problem of relationships and cultural context, but of false teaching which continues without repentance or discipline.

For my part, I am somewhat indifferent to the outcome of the “special gathering”. My main interest is to be a part of an institution that is easily identifiable as a Christian Church, something that, while sober, I could not accuse the Anglican Church of Canada of.

I just wish I could be in the room when the GAFCON primates tell Fred Hiltz and Michael Curry that they must repent of their false teaching.

TEC changes the definition of marriage; Justin Welby is deeply concerned

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today expressed deep concern about the stress for the Anglican Communion following the US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ resolution to change the definition of marriage in the canons so that any reference to marriage as between a man and a woman is removed.

While recognising the prerogative of The Episcopal Church to address issues appropriate to its own context, Archbishop Justin Welby said that its decision will cause distress for some and have ramifications for the Anglican Communion as a whole, as well as for its ecumenical and interfaith relationships.

Other than the fact that I am still waiting with considerable anticipation for an archbishop to voice a shallow concern, what I find most interesting about this is that Welby’s worry is not so much whether it is Biblically sound to redefine marriage, but whether TEC’s decision will hasten the demise of the pallid but still twitching carcass belonging to what used to be the Anglican Communion.

In order to remain credible, and in the absence of any more potent stricture on TEC than deep concern from Canterbury, what choice will Provinces that take the Gospel seriously have but to further distance themselves from TEC – and Canterbury?

Incidentally, does anyone doubt that the Anglican Church of Canada will follow in TEC’s footsteps? Anyone?

Justin Welby peddles “inclusive capitalism”

I was under the naïve impression that there was nothing left to which the overused to the point of meaninglessness adjective “inclusive” could be applied – but I was wrong.

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today calls on business and market leaders to be less self-serving and to adopt a new model known as “inclusive capitalism”.

[…..]

“Rather than just seeking a return on investment, there has to be a generosity that reaches out.”

Any model of capitalism that relied solely on self-interest would lead to the collapse of society, he warns, writing in the Telegraph.

“Altruism, the imitation of the God who acts in love that does not seek return, is a crucial part of a stable and functional society.”

To what organisation should we look for inspiration in eschewing financial self-interest and seeking no return on investments? The Church of England, of course:

The Church Commissioners hold investments whose value was approaching £6.7 billion at the end of 2014.

[…..]

Their long term target is a return of at least RPI [inflation] plus 5% over the long term.

A paradigm of inclusive capitalism: it includes £6.7 billion and 5% return over inflation.

Archbishop of Canterbury hosts multi-faith Lambeth schmooze

It should be the beginning of a joke and, in a way, I suppose it is: a Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jainist and Christian all walk into Lambeth Palace; they look at the Christian and decide he doesn’t belong.

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury last night hosted a reception for inter-religious and community leaders at Lambeth Palace.

Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.

The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.

I can think of a number of reasons why Welby might do this, none of which have anything to do with the hope of converting anyone, least of all the visitors, to Christianity.

The first is to demonstrate the pride with which Western Anglicanism holds firm to the proposition that it doesn’t much matter what anyone believes, so long as we can all get along.

The second is to disabuse those who are under the mistaken impression that the Anglican trinitarian god has three persons named Diversity, Inclusion and Equality; no, the one true Anglican god is now named Reconciliation.

The third is related to the first and second. If Jesus had simply learned to get along with everyone, to reconcile with them, he wouldn’t have ended up on that embarrassing  cross, removing a major stumbling block in our getting along with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Jainists.

Fourth, Justin Welby has finally realised that it is easier to find agreement between Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Jainists than between Anglicans.

I write in jest, of course. To be absolutely serious, Welby himself tells us what this was really all about: the need to create a space that is relational:  a convenient void into which one can jettison unwanted relations. What could be clearer than that?

Justin Welby: the secret of being an archbishop is to be reconciled to your own embarrassment

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said it is “embarrassing” that posts in the Church of England are being advertised for less than the living wage despite the Church’s declared commitment to the principle.

[….]

The living wage commitment was included in the controversial bishops’ pastoral letter, ‘Who is my Neighbour?’, released last week.
Speaking at a conference in Birmingham today for business and Church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the revelation was “embarrassing”. However, the Press Association reported: “But in the light of transparency, which I welcome, I will say we are a complex institution and every parish church and cathedral is an independent charity, as is every diocese.

“We don’t have a centralised method of control.

“I’m not very keen on centralised control where, from far away, you tell people what to do.”

If only Welby took the same view when it comes to the government. The Pastoral Letter issued by Church of England Bishops expends a torrent of verbiage on telling everyone what to do – when it isn’t waxing lyrical on the virtues of centralised control.

As it happens, I reported on the Church’s stingy salaries in July 2014, so Welby has no excuse for being unaware of this: he just needs to read Anglican Samizdat.

Justin Welby wants businesses to pay more tax

He is upset that businesses are using foreign countries with more attractive tax laws as a haven for tax saving.

From here:

The Archbishop kept his strongest comments for the role taxes play in ensuring that companies contribute to the societies in which they operate.

“There has always been the principle that you pay the tax where you earn the money,” he told me.

“If you earn the money in a country, the revenue service of that country needs to get a fair share of what you have earned.”

Welby’s point about contributing to the society in which a business operates by paying tax in that country would be more convincing if the Church of England didn’t receive extravagant tax breaks. The church collects £1 billion a year in donations, spends £189 million in salaries, has an investment portfolio worth £5.5 billion and receives £84 million in Gift Aid tax rebates.

The church, of course, is a charity and does not operate for profit – although the £5.5 billion looks suspiciously like profit to me. In spite of its spiritual aspirations – none of which seem particularly in evidence these days – as an organisation, the CofE runs as a business.

It doesn’t help that in 2012 when the government threatened to impose VAT tax on church building renovations, the church pleaded to be exempt from that tax, too.

To be clear: I don’t think churches should have to pay tax. However, since churches are in that privileged position in our society, a church leader who whines about businesses minimising their taxes deserves all the ridicule we can muster: his organisation is a consummate tax dodger.