".....The Church of England knows it has a crisis on its hands. It thinks the crisis might be solved by gently persuading enough conservatives to overcome their convictions and vote yes for women bishops. I am convinced the problem is far deeper than that. I think we hold dramatically different understandings about the nature of God and they are irreconcilable. I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays. Until they overcome their prejudice, they will continue to drive the church towards a precipice. Until people, especially in Synod, have the courage and awareness to proclaim that God looks totally different from the conservative’s version of God, the majority of people in this country will treat us with disdain and many church members will continue to abandon the church....."As you might expect I don't recognise either the caricature of traditionalists as intolerant bigots or the essentially private revelation (no doubt 'prophetic' or 'Spirit-filled' or some such self-referential justification) which seeks to dismiss the insights of both scripture and tradition and evade their implications...
John Richardson is, of course, right when he says that those like Mr Coward regard the faith of traditionalists as not only radically different but morally deficient. We can go further and see his views as both indicative of the kind of liberal fundamentalism of which we have recently been complaining and as the overriding reason why we cannot go along with those who constantly urge us to show more trust and confidence in those who disagree with us.
The mask has slipped; I am by no means convinced that Colin Coward's opinions are as unrepresentative as some have alleged. They are put forward in an extreme way, yes, but their underlying ideology, even if expressed more gently, is now fast becoming the established consensus throughout the liberal 'western' Anglican world.
It does seem a different religion, certainly; and it is one which views with utter disdain much of the Christian tradition which has been handed down to us. Moreover, it is the reason why traditionalists (Catholic or Evangelical) - or even those caught in the middle who wouldn't regard themselves as 'paid up' traditionalists at all - will never have a secure place within 'first world' Anglican structures until there is a well-defined measure of separation between them and those who regard the faith of the ages in this way and accordingly seek to proscribe it: "I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God ..."
This passage is also rather revealing:
"....So long as the majority of members at Synod fail to open themselves in confidence to God’s infinite, loving, creative energy – and talk about their experience of God with passion – debates will fail to ignite and Church of England policy will continue to be small, narrow, unconvincing and impoverished....."
It's curious, but because of its rapidly diminishing theological breadth and depth, as Catholics and other 'tolerant conservatives' are forced out by the current intolerant revisionist take-over of our provinces, it seems to this observer that the Anglican tradition has never in its post-Tudor history seemed so "small, narrow, unconvincing and impoverished" as it does now....