(Spectator) Tom Wright—How the Church of England can – and will – endure

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite two centuries of being told the opposite, in fact, the Church can’t help itself. Secular modernism still likes to pretend that the world runs itself, and that ‘religion’ has to do with private spirituality and ­otherworldly hope. The Church — not least those who want to create a ‘pure’ type of Christianity, and look either to Rome or to a ‘biblical’ sect to provide it — has often colluded with this secularist shrinking of the task. But the genuinely biblical vision, rooted in the four gospels, is of God already being king of the world, through the victory of Jesus. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth,’ said Jesus, ‘has been given to me.’ And on earth. The Church exists to demonstrate what that means.

It exists, in other words, to do and be for the world what Jesus had been for his contemporaries: to bring healing and hope, to rescue people trapped in their own folly and sin, to straighten out the distorted pictures of reality that every age manages to produce, and to enable people to live by, and in, God’s true reality. It exists not to rescue people from the world but to rescue them for the world: to see lives transformed by the gospel so that people can discover a new depth and resonance of what it means to be human, precisely by looking beyond themselves to God, to the beauties and glories of his creation, and to their neighbours, particularly those in need. The Church does this through liturgy and laughter; through music and drug-rehabilitation programmes; through prayer and protest marches; through preaching and campaigning; through soaking itself in the Bible and immersing itself in the needs of the world. When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks (as many, including many critics, think he should). He sends in the meek; and by the time the world realises what’s going on, the meek have set up clinics and schools, taught people to read and to sing, and given them a hope, meaning and purpose....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

Posted August 30, 2011 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

The article (surprisingly) overlooks India’s rapidly-growing blue water navy, which increasingly includes indigenously designed and built ships, not least of which are the ballistic missile submarines that shall soon provide India with a full nuclear-deterrent triad (bombers, boomers, and ICBMs).

In one of its typical unforced errors, the Obama administration has chosen not to strengthen the US - India relationship—perhaps Bush 43’s greatest legacy—by transferring the Kitty Hawk as a gift to India. Kitty Hawk is a top-notch conventional carrier, vastly better than the recycled Russian kludge with which India and China at present both must make do.

The key point in this all, however, is that India are now designing and building their own flat-tops. China are not. Not even close. And anytime after early 2013 even attempting to sink a US carrier would be a phenomenal error on China’s part.

August 30, 9:31 am | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Wrong place, somehow. Sorry.

August 30, 10:02 am | [comment link]
3. Matt Kennedy wrote:

He’s blind to the deep theological divide between those who see ssbs as fine and those who do not. To support sex acts between two people of the same sex one has to adopt a view of scripture and tradition that is at odds with the gospel. That the “church” is divided over this question is not a peripheral problem but points to an unbridgeable division.

What one cares to do about it—stay and fight or leave and set up external arrangements—is a question we all have to deal with and there are faithful ways to do either. But the most foolish response is to pretend that things aren’t all that bad and to mock those who don’t go along with the facade.

Bishop Wright’s incoherent comparison of the communion-wide conflict today with the isolated case of one, unsupported, 19th century heretic bishop in South Africa reveals his startling depth of misperception.

Sarah’s thoughts on the SF thread are spot on:

Looks as if Wright started out to produce a rah-rah-everybody-pull-together-for-the-COE article, but then got distracted with bitter thoughts about all of his enemies, which include the mean media,the mean budget-cutters in the government, mean Wicked Sheep-Stealing Rome, and those mean “sects” of “conservative evangelicals.”


What a muddle the combination of rah-rahing and pooh-poohing ends up making of the article.

The line where he strikes the lowest and most petulant blow are these two sentences:

Secular modernism still likes to pretend that the world runs itself, and that ‘religion’ has to do with private spirituality and otherworldly hope. The Church — not least those who want to create a ‘pure’ type of Christianity, and look either to Rome or to a ‘biblical’ sect to provide it — has often colluded with this secularist shrinking of the task.

In other words, those who have been driven out of their churches due to the detestable non-protection of AngloCatholics by his COE, or those who see masses of revisionist activist bishops being appointed and desire a place where such men are not in leadership are literally colluding with the “secular modernists” to shrink the work and the arena for that work of the COE.

No, the COE is doing quite a nice job of shrinking itself—its gospel and its leadership and its influence—without any help from Rome, the media, the secular modernists, or the “sects” of “conservative evangelicals.”

Sad that he’s wasting time sitting there slowly seething about his enemies.

Very sad indeed.

August 30, 10:49 am | [comment link]
4. Terry Tee wrote:

I am a subscriber to the Speccie as we fondly call it in the UK and read the article in print with some degree of incredulity.  The assumption behind it is that an established church is unquestionably a good thing.  Nowhere is the downside mentioned which leaves the article lacking any kind of incisiveness or rigour.  One tiny detail that had me gasping:  his apparent belief that a Catholic bishop would not meet his Protestant counterparts unless an Anglican bishop was around to introduce him to them.  As they say in Private Eye:  Shurely shome mishtake.

August 30, 12:39 pm | [comment link]
5. Jill Woodliff wrote:

I have been closely following the Anglican debacle for eight years.  I have never been lied to so much in my life as I have been lied to by Anglican leaders.  What a nest of bald-faced-low-down-snake-in-the-grass liars. 
I published thousands of pages of prayers and organized several fasts.  Unfortunately, my “meekness” did nothing to overcome the influence of TEC’s money.
The body of Christ will survive, of that I have no doubt.  But the long-term viability of the established Church of England?  I have my doubts.

August 30, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
6. Jill Woodliff wrote:

I should add that I am not implying Bp Wright is one of the liars.  I’m just dumfounded by his failure to acknowledge the severity of the situation.  He is in academics, an ideal situation to challenge what is taking place.  To be silent, to fail to condemn sin, is this not what Bonhoeffer warned was cheap grace? 
I’m just a lay person in a small destitute town.  My voice carries little weight, but Wright is a renown theologian.  The Anglican Communion needs him and others like him to challenge the apostasy.

August 30, 10:02 pm | [comment link]
7. William S wrote:

I have been from time to time surprised by Tom Wright’s complacent (as it seems to me) analysis of the state of the CofE. Of course it has good things in it, but that’s not really the point at this juncture. His words contrast with those of a bishop from a former age, J.C.Ryle, in his piece entitled ‘Apostolic Fears’:

The nation that rests satisfied with its commercial prosperity, and neglects its national defenses, because they are troublesome or expensive, is likely to become a prey to the first Napoleon, who chooses to attack it. The Church which is “rich; and has acquired wealth,” may think it, “does not need a thing,” because of its antiquity, traditions, and endowments. It may cry “Peace, peace,” and flatter itself that it sees no evil. But if it is not careful about the maintenance of sound doctrine among its ministers and members, it may be surprised someday when its light is taken away.

August 31, 8:41 am | [comment link]
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