Peter Mullen’s Church of England Newspaper column
16th July 2012
"Let us not pretend that this shin-dig over women bishops has anything at all to do with theology or even that vapid distraction, ecclesiology. The issue is purely one of feminism, human rights, diversity and equal opportunities. In other words, a religious and theological matter is being decided according to secular criteria.
This scandalous reality has been made quite explicit by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament which has warned the Church that it must proceed to the consecration of women bishops on the grounds of human rights.
There is a certain irony that this is happening around the time when the 19th century priest and poet John Keble is being celebrated in the Church’s calendar. For it was Keble who used his Assize Sermon in 1833 to protest against the Whig government of the day’s suppression of ten Irish bishoprics. Keble’s protest was the beginning of the Oxford Movement.
But where are the likes of Keble today? Why do we hear no powerful theological arguments against the consecration of women bishops? Mainstream evangelicals do not seem to be particularly interested – certainly not to the extent of withholding financial support from central diocesan funds.
It might be argued that Anglo-catholics are making a great noise and fuss, but this is all sound and fury signifying nothing. What sanctions have they actually got? And the depressing answer is none. They can of course clear off and join the Ordinariate. The supporters of women bishops would merely say,” Take your hook then, and good riddance!” Or is, sulking, they stay, it will only be a matter of time before they will be compelled to accept the authority of women bishops. This means that an historic and respected movement in the church will be wiped out: a whole theological integrity obliterated.
So much for Dr Habgood’s courageous attempt back in 1992, when it was agreed to ordain women to the priesthood, to create and uphold two integrities: one which accepted the priestly ministry of women and another with did not, but for whom provision for conscience was enshrined in church law. Twenty years on, there is only one integrity – if indeed that is what it is - recognised: the secular, rights-driven, politically-correct, diversity-obsessed faction which insists on women bishops; and anyone who cannot conscientiously agree might just as well be damned or condemned to exile.
What Gertude Himmelfarb referred to as “the culture wars” have been fought and lost by conservatives and traditionalists. If you want a vision of the future of the Church of England, you should look across the Atlantic at the Episcopal Church of the USA. The cultural wind is decidedly and relentlessly a westerly. It is blowing our way. And it is blowing mighty change to the whole nature and character of the Church of England.
Women bishops are a foregone conclusion, but they are only a part of the secularised, diversified package which English church people will be obliged to accept. Just wait and see. You won’t have to wait long. There will be official recognition of active homosexuals in the priesthood. No doubt a quasi-religious order of the transgendered will emerge in due course. There will be – helped by the enthusiasm of our “Conservative” prime minister - same-sex “marriages” solemnised in our churches.
I dare say a small minority of diehards will hold out against this latter innovation, but the overwhelming majority of priests and parishes – seduced by the “inclusivity” bug - will go along with it. The thus marginalised rump of reactionaries will simply be rendered irrelevant and in a very short time fade away.
We are living through a revolution. All the traditionally authoritative spiritual and theological categories are being abolished in favour of secular fashion. The word for people who perpetrate this is “apostate.” But no, the innovators won’t listen. Those of us who won’t accept the new regime are not allowed the refuge of conscience: we are regarded as merely reactionary or grumpy old men. Indeed, I have been called a lot worse.
When I accuse the leaders of the Church of capitulating to secular fashion, they become very hot under the dog collar and deny they are doing any such thing. What they protest instead is some sort of vague and bogus pseudo-theological plea for excuses. They are nothing if not sentimentalists and so they regard their manifesto of “diversity” and “inclusivity” as one which Jesus would have approved and implemented. To which the only rational response is, “Well, why didn’t he, then?” The truth is, of course, that there is not a shred of biblical or patristic support for any of these catastrophic innovations.
It is not comfortable being a traditionalist serving under the ignorant, vicious modern authorities in the dumbed down institution which our Church has become. But I’m not in it for comfort. I don’t shirk a fight. Half my life has been spent in vigorous opposition to the begetters of our current decadence and infidelity. And I am not fighting a solitary battle. I have around me uncorrupted colleagues and an informed, devout and affectionate congregation.
When C.H. Sisson was faced with the problem of what traditionalists ought to do, He said:
“What then is the position of the theological rump in our now lay, secularised clerisy? There are three possibilities. They can stay and fight their corner, struggling for an intelligibility which might come again, and will come, if it is the truth they are concerned with. They can sit on pillars in some recess of the national structure, waiting for better times. Or they can let their taste for having an ecclesiastical club carry them into one or other of those international gangs of opinion – that which has its headquarters in Rome or that which has a shadowy international meeting-place in Canterbury. In any case it will be a political choice that is being made. For my part, I shall prefer those who stay and fight their corner, content to be merely the Church in a place.”
That is my position too. I will stay and fight my corner. Here, in this church in this place."
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
More comment on the direction of Anglicanism
From The Revd Dr Peter Mullen in the Church of England Newspaper. We may not necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, but we can concur with his analysis and respect his position: