Entitled 'What would I do if I were Archbishop of Canterbury?', here's a flavour:
"On day one I would hold a press conference at a homeless shelter in Camberwell and announce that the Lambeth Palace site was to be sold for redevelopment. I would relocate Church HQ to a modern office unit south of the river and use the remainder of the proceeds of sale of the Palace site to fund a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. I reckon this would cause quite a splash and I would accept every invitation to appear on the media for the following three months and simply talk about the fact that God is real and wants to redeem our broken world. I would do this because the greatest challenge facing the church is that we live in an age of unbelief and we need to show that God is real. I would smile a lot on TV and use modern, everyday language.Many thanks to the blog 'catholicity and covenant' for this rebuttal. I'll quote from it at length:
I would never wear clerical garb even for state occasions but would wear a suit and sometimes a decent tie. I think Her Majesty, whose faith is very real and whose grandchildren are leading the way in how to connect to people in the twenty-first century, would be quite comfortable with this. I would also restrict discussion on sexuality in the church to the same proportion of time as Jesus spent dealing with this topic in his three years of ministry, i.e. not at all..."
"What is attractive about Streeter's proposals is the core conviction: "that God is real and wants to redeem our broken lives and broken community". But it is that very core conviction which should lead to us to question what Montgomerie describes as the "four-step plan to strip away the things that most prevent people from paying any attention" to the Church's proclamation.
Step 1: announce that the Lambeth Palace site was to be sold for redevelopment ... and use the remainder of the proceeds of sale of the Palace site to fund a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts.
That the Church can exist with Lambeth Palace is a given. That a business park and fashionable apartments being built on the site would advance the Kingdom of God is not a given. Nor should we forget that Lambeth Palace is used to host some of the very encounters that Streeter suggests - with political leaders, financiers, scientists, other faith leaders. Yes, such meetings do not require Lambeth Palace. But they do require somewhere.
Step 2: I would never wear clerical garb even for state occasions but would wear a suit and sometimes a decent tie.
And thus look like a politician. Or a banker. Or a journalist.
Step 3: I would also restrict discussion on sexuality in the church to the same proportion of time as Jesus spent dealing with this topic in his three years of ministry, i.e. not at all.
This statement regarding Jesus' ministry and matters of sex is not, of course, strictly true: he did address porneia. That Anglicans has badly mishandled theological reflection on same-sex relationships is obvious. But to avoid talking about sexuality when so many of us in church and society experience sexual brokenness would not aid the Church's proclamation. (As an example of how we can talk about sexuality, see Sarah Coakley's excellent, challenging essay on celibacy.)
Step 4: I would meet regularly with Christians battling away in politics, business, science and the media and encourage them in their journey and I would never lambast them from the pulpit even though they might sometimes get things wrong.
Tim Montgomerie interprets this as follows:
The new Archbishop should believe that if you transform a person's inner outlook then their political manifesto, business behaviour or parenting will take care of itself ... [Jesus] taught forgiveness and personal reform, not violence or political revolution.
The problem, self-evidently, is that such matters do not take care of themselves. The pervasive power of a culture to shape behaviour in ways distant from the Kingdom requires the Church's proclamation to challenge the powers and principalities in the public square, in evangelisation, in catechetics and in formation. As Wright and Hauerwas so consistently reminds us, the confession Christos kyrios was and is a profoundly political statement, threatening the established political, social, economic and cultural orders.
Streeter's proposals, to some extent, represent a certain type of evangelicalism and a certain type of political Conservatism. Put together, they result in what John Milbank terms "stale expressions" of Church:
Quite simply a new mutation of Protestantism in its mutually constitutive relationship with capitalism.....
.......Here we see the true weakness of Streeter's proposals: they would result in a Church that, while loud, would be ironically tame. Rather than eucharist, prayer, scripture, reconciliation, communion bringing about a new society and a radically different culture in the life of the Church, it would be the case that addressing politics and economics was off-bounds - and, if we follow Streeter's Step 3, this would also apply to sexuality. It would be Church, in a decent suit and tie, as chaplain rather than as counter-culture."