A Conservative Evangelical puts his head above the parapet...

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Comments

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    Eirenist wrote: »
    I don't really want to keep jumping on bigjon. The underlying issue seems to be whether Christians are to regard the text the Bible as the beginning or the end of their journey with Christ.

    That's genetic. He can't help it. Can't be helped.
  • Marvin the MartianMarvin the Martian Admin Emeritus
    edited August 2019
    bigjon wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    bigjon wrote: »
    Have you been listening to anything the GAFCON bishops have been saying for the past ten years? The next Lambeth conference will be an irrelevant sideshow, because once the English Archbishops cease to uphold Anglican / Scriptural doctrine they lose all authority over the worldwide Anglican provinces.

    Just what authority does either Archbishop, or even the 2 of them together, have over any other Anglican province?

    The authority of God's word faithfully exhorted and applied, of they do it.

    But who gets to determine whether they are faithfully exhorting and applying Gods word, and therefore what authority they have?

    Are you basically saying that your leaders have authority over you only if they never disagree with your beliefs? And if so, who are you really saying has the authority in that relationship?
  • bigjonbigjon Shipmate
    bigjon wrote: »
    Purely practically, isn’t this also dangerous? Isn’t it this sort of exhortation to (for example) victims of DA to “prayerfully submit themselves” to the authority of the “Biblical teaching” of their vicar which could keep them in abusive relationships?

    I agree that it's real danger - all I can say is that my vicar has always taken extreme pains to counteract this by insisting on the right of private interpretation of the Bible - all the more so and more frequently in the light of recent abuse revelations.

    We are constantly being urged from the pulpit and in the parish newsletter to be like the Bereans, who were "every day examining the scriptures whether these things held so" (Acts 17:11)

    Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you’re responding to about 375 people here at the moment.

    I appreciate what it sounds as though your vicar is trying to do, but I don’t understand how one squares encouraging private interpretation with submitting to the teaching of the minister. All the private interpretation in all the world is of limited use to me if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar’s teaching. The prospect for abuse of power by the preacher / leader / vicar / whatever here is substantially increased, isn’t it?

    And can you expand on your last point about abuse revelations, please?
    I think the key phrase you use is "if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar's teaching". I think that's Roman Catholicism rather than Conservative Evangelicalism. We'd say that ultimately I have to submit to the Bible's teaching, and if the vicar isn't teaching the Bible faithfully I shouldn't submit to the vicar's teaching.

    So we have consecutive exposition of Bible books rather than follow a lectionary, consecutive study of whole Bible books in small groups, personal Bible study in "quiet time" using resources such as Explore Bible-reading notes is strongly encouraged, and we have regular question-time sessions where the vicar and regular preachers are asked about their sermons by the congregation, and so are held accountable by the laity - they are our leaders and so worthy of respect but they are our servant-leaders and lead us by teaching God's word faithfully. It's God as revealed by God's word to whom we ultimately submit, not the vicar.

    The abuse revelations I refer to are those discussed on the John Smyth / Iwerne / Jonathan Fletcher thread elsewhere on the ship. Our vicar is a Iwerne man through-and-through, of the same generation as the John Smyth victims, so he knows them well. He says that John Smyth was first exposed in ?1982 when a Cambridge student who was being abused by Smyth did an on-his-own Acts 17:11 Berean-style comparison of how Smyth was interpreting the Bible with what he understood from his own study, and so decided to report Smyth to his vicar (who was also a Iwerne man) Mark Ruston. So that's why he's been particularly hot on us all being Bereans recently as a protection against abuse.
  • @bigjon If you take the view that women shouldn't hold a position of authority in the church, how do you square your oft-given assertion that you are a valid member of the CofE with the position of HM The Queen as Supreme Governor?

    (BTW you still haven't got back to me about the form of service your place uses on 6th February and the provision of a Mikveh either.)
  • bigjon wrote: »
    bigjon wrote: »
    Purely practically, isn’t this also dangerous? Isn’t it this sort of exhortation to (for example) victims of DA to “prayerfully submit themselves” to the authority of the “Biblical teaching” of their vicar which could keep them in abusive relationships?

    I agree that it's real danger - all I can say is that my vicar has always taken extreme pains to counteract this by insisting on the right of private interpretation of the Bible - all the more so and more frequently in the light of recent abuse revelations.

    We are constantly being urged from the pulpit and in the parish newsletter to be like the Bereans, who were "every day examining the scriptures whether these things held so" (Acts 17:11)

    Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you’re responding to about 375 people here at the moment.

    I appreciate what it sounds as though your vicar is trying to do, but I don’t understand how one squares encouraging private interpretation with submitting to the teaching of the minister. All the private interpretation in all the world is of limited use to me if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar’s teaching. The prospect for abuse of power by the preacher / leader / vicar / whatever here is substantially increased, isn’t it?

    And can you expand on your last point about abuse revelations, please?
    I think the key phrase you use is "if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar's teaching". I think that's Roman Catholicism rather than Conservative Evangelicalism. We'd say that ultimately I have to submit to the Bible's teaching, and if the vicar isn't teaching the Bible faithfully I shouldn't submit to the vicar's teaching.

    Who determines what “the Bible’s teaching” actually is though? Whoever that is, that’s who has the authority.
  • Yes, and bigjon's take on that seems to be that it can be the individual who determines the "correct" interpretation ... just so long as they reach the right "correct" viewpoint; if they don't then the pastor's view (assuming he too is (a) male, and (b) "correct") trumps the individual.
  • Are you basically saying that your leaders have authority over you only if they never disagree with your beliefs? And if so, who are you really saying has the authority in that relationship?

    The problem I have with this assertion, and those like unto it, is the word I've bolded. Where is the evidence of authority being exercised over believers in the NT? (This might need a Kerygmania thread...).

  • This all turns the biblical texts and (for the Church of England) the 39 Articles into a set of contractual terms and conditions. This is not, for me, how it works. We are pilgrims into mystery, not adherents to a set of explicit, textually definable norms.

    Perhaps that's why I'm not a natural protestant, I don't know, but this is profoundly alien to me, and I reject it on that profound level. Nothing about it speaks to me of the Christian faith, at all. I don't care how many adherents it attracts; it drives away four or five potential fellow-pilgrims for every adherent it attracts. Therefore I abominate the terms and conditions approach utterly.
  • bigjon wrote: »
    We'd say that ultimately I have to submit to the Bible's teaching, and if the vicar isn't teaching the Bible faithfully I shouldn't submit to the vicar's teaching.

    So we have consecutive exposition of Bible books rather than follow a lectionary, consecutive study of whole Bible books in small groups, personal Bible study in "quiet time" using resources such as Explore Bible-reading notes is strongly encouraged, and we have regular question-time sessions where the vicar and regular preachers are asked about their sermons by the congregation, and so are held accountable by the laity - they are our leaders and so worthy of respect but they are our servant-leaders and lead us by teaching God's word faithfully. It's God as revealed by God's word to whom we ultimately submit, not the vicar.

    I fear that there are so many worms here that a can is no longer sufficient, and a barrel or something even larger is required.

    Let me take up just one: do you really study the whole Bible consecutively? What order does "consecutive" mean? Is equal time given to each book/chapter? Why? Why not? Who decides?
  • bigjon wrote: »
    bigjon wrote: »
    Purely practically, isn’t this also dangerous? Isn’t it this sort of exhortation to (for example) victims of DA to “prayerfully submit themselves” to the authority of the “Biblical teaching” of their vicar which could keep them in abusive relationships?

    I agree that it's real danger - all I can say is that my vicar has always taken extreme pains to counteract this by insisting on the right of private interpretation of the Bible - all the more so and more frequently in the light of recent abuse revelations.

    We are constantly being urged from the pulpit and in the parish newsletter to be like the Bereans, who were "every day examining the scriptures whether these things held so" (Acts 17:11)

    Thanks for the reply, I appreciate you’re responding to about 375 people here at the moment.

    I appreciate what it sounds as though your vicar is trying to do, but I don’t understand how one squares encouraging private interpretation with submitting to the teaching of the minister. All the private interpretation in all the world is of limited use to me if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar’s teaching. The prospect for abuse of power by the preacher / leader / vicar / whatever here is substantially increased, isn’t it?

    And can you expand on your last point about abuse revelations, please?
    I think the key phrase you use is "if ultimately I have to submit to the vicar's teaching". I think that's Roman Catholicism rather than Conservative Evangelicalism. We'd say that ultimately I have to submit to the Bible's teaching, and if the vicar isn't teaching the Bible faithfully I shouldn't submit to the vicar's teaching.

    So we have consecutive exposition of Bible books rather than follow a lectionary, consecutive study of whole Bible books in small groups, personal Bible study in "quiet time" using resources such as Explore Bible-reading notes is strongly encouraged, and we have regular question-time sessions where the vicar and regular preachers are asked about their sermons by the congregation, and so are held accountable by the laity - they are our leaders and so worthy of respect but they are our servant-leaders and lead us by teaching God's word faithfully. It's God as revealed by God's word to whom we ultimately submit, not the vicar.

    The abuse revelations I refer to are those discussed on the John Smyth / Iwerne / Jonathan Fletcher thread elsewhere on the ship. Our vicar is a Iwerne man through-and-through, of the same generation as the John Smyth victims, so he knows them well. He says that John Smyth was first exposed in ?1982 when a Cambridge student who was being abused by Smyth did an on-his-own Acts 17:11 Berean-style comparison of how Smyth was interpreting the Bible with what he understood from his own study, and so decided to report Smyth to his vicar (who was also a Iwerne man) Mark Ruston. So that's why he's been particularly hot on us all being Bereans recently as a protection against abuse.

    Yes he reported an Iwerne man to an Iwerne man leading an Iwerne dominated church. Are we surprised that nothing really happened except that Smyth was supported financially and went to Africa? Looks like a bung... smells' like a bung … is a bung. The question is moving outwards to this - what did the Trustees of the mission in Africa know and were they involved in a plan to cover up Smyth's misdeeds?

    As for saying it was all ok then to do that kind of thing - let me tell please, it wasn't. I know of people reported to the authorities -- and action taken - for far far less. It's just that here, as ever, there are influential friends in high places. I think today we'd be asking rather more questions of Ruston.
  • What is this thing 'the Bible's teaching'?
  • bigjonbigjon Shipmate
    bigjon wrote: »
    bigjon wrote: »
    [I'd be surprised if HTB were confirming to the Sheffield quota of clergy numbers which was In think in operation at the time they were launching the Alpha Course.
    Eh?

    Sorry - "I'd be surprised if HTB were conforming to the Sheffield quota of clergy numbers which was I think in operation at the time they were launching the Alpha Course."

    I understood the sentence; but what on earth is/was the Sheffield quota and how did HTB vary from it?

    Sorry, I thought you were just protesting at my auto-correct mangling.

    I'm hazy on the details as they were really before my time, so this is more of a 1066-and-all-that-style account.

    In the 80s the C of E bureaucracy had the bright idea (based on a report that had something to do with the diocese of Sheffield) that they should centralise the allocation of clergy by diocese across the country, because parishes who were growing and generating income sufficient to pay for extra clergy to pastor the new congregants were attracting an 'unfair' share of clergy to their dioceses.

    So the diocese of Nossex would receive an allocation of say 100 clergy for 100 parishes, and would allocate 1 clergy to all the parishes which had shrunk and could no longer pay for their minister, and then say to the parish with a usual Sunday attendance of 1,000 - that leaves one clergy for you, actually that seems unreasonable, we'll amalgamate two parishes with a usual Sunday attendance of 100 between them and then you can have a vicar and a curate.

    So the large evangelical parishes in the 80s and 90s if they hadn't already created ministry trusts and funded the extra pastoral staff (often ordained in the C of E) they needed directly from the trusts. But this was - gasp of horror - irregular :-0 (a far worse crime than heresy in the eyes of the bishops and synods), and so the evangelical parishes were cast into the outer darkness of receiving a motion of censure from the Deanery Synod.

    I haven't researched how many (ordained Anglican) pastoral staff were at Holy Trinity Brompton while they were launching the Alpha Course, but I'd be gobsmacked if they were conforming to the Sheffield quota.
  • Thank you, that's helpful. I could comment on it, but will refrain for now.
  • Wonders if her question will get answered.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    bigjon wrote: »
    So the large evangelical parishes in the 80s and 90s if they hadn't already created ministry trusts and funded the extra pastoral staff (often ordained in the C of E) they needed directly from the trusts.
    Right, I'm going to make my comments now.

    First, many smaller churches (and this isn't true just within the CofE but those in my own and other denominations as well) look with envy and even anger at the large churches which seem to be able to multiply paid staff like rabbits, and say, "We have less than half a Vicar to serve us: what a difference even one of those people could make to our life and mission".

    Second, you are part of a denomination which shares resources. That's even true of us although we are congregational in structure. Both the denominational ethos and a true sense of Christian generosity should lead to the richer subsidizing the poorer in their task rather than using it for themselves. We see that even in the NT where the Jerusalem church had to be helped from others.

    Third, a large congregation should not, in my view, require a proportionately larger paid staff. What it needs to work out is how to mobilise its members to do much of the work. My suspicion, although I can't prove it, is that the percentage of "committed and active" members in small congregations may be much higher than in larger ones. A respected Baptist colleague suggested years ago that, if a larger church was thinking of employing a second Pastor, they should ask themselves if that was really necessary and, if not, pay for a second staff member in a small inner-city parish where the members were flogging themselves to death trying to keep things going and were desperate to reach out. (Needless to say, his words went unheeded).

    The net effect of all this is twofold. First it reinforces the notion of "success", meaning that more and more Christians flock to the Big Churches (with all their thrilling activities and high-quality worship) while passing many other congregations in perhaps less congenial areas where their presence and service would be greatly valued - for instance, many churches don't even have one decent musician, let alone a worship band. Second it deprives many needy areas and parishes of the resources which could be used to do mission and serve their communities, meaning that ultimately those churches will fail and the Christian witnesses in those places disappear.

    Sorry to be so blunt. I'm not saying that all larger churches are like that, and I'm certainly not claiming that all smaller churches are desperate to reach out. But I've been in and around smaller churches for over 30 years and I have become greatly disturbed by the inequalities between congregations which I feel will have a disastrous effect in the longer term.

  • While we're at it you can take your over-resourced, fawned upon Mitre Benefice and insert it, point first, in the orifice of your choice.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    The ‘Sheffield Report’ was produced in 1974 by a commission chaired by the then Bishop of Sheffield. Its aim was to address the problem that London and the South East we’re taking a disproportionate share of available clergy to the disadvantage of dioceses in rural and/or less affluent areas, and to some extent generally in the northern province. It provided a formula based on population numbers, number of churches, electoral roll numbers, and geographical area which attempted to ensure a fair share of clergy across the country. This meant, at least in principle, that there would be sufficient clergy to minister to the populations of Sunderland, Salford, or rural Norfolk as well as to the more comfortable areas of Surrey, Hertfordshire, or central London.

    There was also a national agreement about stipends which sought to prevent dioceses in wealthy areas, or with larger historic resources from getting more clergy by simply paying higher stipends. The agreement sought to weight stipends on a regional basis to reflect differences in the cost of living.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    I wonder what God thinks of high-quality worship?
  • bigjon wrote: »
    So the large evangelical parishes in the 80s and 90s if they hadn't already created ministry trusts and funded the extra pastoral staff (often ordained in the C of E) they needed directly from the trusts.
    Right, I'm going to make my comments now.

    First, many smaller churches (and this isn't true just within the CofE but those in my own and other denominations as well) look with envy and even anger at the large churches which seem to be able to multiply paid staff like rabbits, and say, "We have less than half a Vicar to serve us: what a difference even one of those people could make to our life and mission".

    Second, you are part of a denomination which shares resources. That's even true of us although we are congregational in structure. Both the denominational ethos and a true sense of Christian generosity should lead to the richer subsidizing the poorer in their task rather than using it for themselves. We see that even in the NT where the Jerusalem church had to be helped from others.

    Third, a large congregation should not, in my view, require a proportionately larger paid staff. What it needs to work out is how to mobilise its members to do much of the work. My suspicion, although I can't prove it, is that the percentage of "committed and active" members in small congregations may be much higher than in larger ones. A respected Baptist colleague suggested years ago that, if a larger church was thinking of employing a second Pastor, they should ask themselves if that was really necessary and, if not, pay for a second staff member in a small inner-city parish where the members were flogging themselves to death trying to keep things going and were desperate to reach out. (Needless to say, his words went unheeded).

    The net effect of all this is twofold. First it reinforces the notion of "success", meaning that more and more Christians flock to the Big Churches (with all their thrilling activities and high-quality worship) while passing many other congregations in perhaps less congenial areas where their presence and service would be greatly valued - for instance, many churches don't even have one decent musician, let alone a worship band. Second it deprives many needy areas and parishes of the resources which could be used to do mission and serve their communities, meaning that ultimately those churches will fail and the Christian witnesses in those places disappear.

    Sorry to be so blunt. I'm not saying that all larger churches are like that, and I'm certainly not claiming that all smaller churches are desperate to reach out. But I've been in and around smaller churches for over 30 years and I have become greatly disturbed by the inequalities between congregations which I feel will have a disastrous effect in the longer term.

    Well said, Pastor!

    @Baptist Trainfan, you may not be C of E, but you speak for many C of E parishes - mine own, for one.
    While we're at it you can take your over-resourced, fawned upon Mitre Benefice and insert it, point first, in the orifice of your choice.

    This.

  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    (Replying to Boogie:) Which, to be fair, needn't just mean a good worship band, excellent video graphics and slick stage-management, but also the best of the organ/choral tradition.
  • I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.
  • bigjon wrote: »


    That is one reason why it is right and justified for ConEvo parishes who are already (faithfully) part of the Church Of England denomination to remain there, for /*puts on fatuous smug patronising expression*/
    it is the best boat to fish from

    The belief that something is good because it is popular has led many people astray. In reality, the human weakness for junk in all varieties suggests popularity is rarely a useful measure of good.
  • Well, quite - but Con-Evos do seem to think (and I guess they're not alone in this) that 'big is beautiful'.

    Yes, a church may have a membership of 1000 today, but how many of them will still be there in a year or two's time? Revolving doors, and all that...
    I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.

    Maybe not, but he started this thread! And, in all fairness, he's fighting his corner quite well...sort of...
    :wink:

  • I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.

    Bigjon's thread title was an invitation to take aim.
  • Well, quite - but Con-Evos do seem to think (and I guess they're not alone in this) that 'big is beautiful'.

    Yes, a church may have a membership of 1000 today, but how many of them will still be there in a year or two's time? Revolving doors, and all that...
    I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.

    Maybe not, but he started this thread! And, in all fairness, he's fighting his corner quite well...sort of...
    :wink:

    It's certainly illuminating, if not remotely surprising, as to how con-evos think.
  • Well, quite - but Con-Evos do seem to think (and I guess they're not alone in this) that 'big is beautiful'.

    Yes, a church may have a membership of 1000 today, but how many of them will still be there in a year or two's time? Revolving doors, and all that...

    I was thinking more that the kind of faith being offered is not necessarily helpful to the congregant or to society as a whole so perhaps finding the revolving door quicker rather than sooner would be best for them. Hopefully they will then find a door leading somewhere of greater benefit.

    I can't help feeling that all the fuss over whether a bishop is male or female hides a whole lot of other issues some of which are not wholesome.
  • Well, quite - but Con-Evos do seem to think (and I guess they're not alone in this) that 'big is beautiful'.

    Yes, a church may have a membership of 1000 today, but how many of them will still be there in a year or two's time? Revolving doors, and all that...

    I was thinking more that the kind of faith being offered is not necessarily helpful to the congregant or to society as a whole so perhaps finding the revolving door quicker rather than sooner would be best for them. Hopefully they will then find a door leading somewhere of greater benefit.

    I can't help feeling that all the fuss over whether a bishop is male or female hides a whole lot of other issues some of which are not wholesome.

    Quite a perspicacious comment, @Colin Smith, if I may say so.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that the revolving-door syndrome applies to other varieties of evangelical church, not just those within the C of E!

    BTW, I agree that the fuss about the gender of a bishop (or a priest) is possibly a symptom of deeper illnesses, but that's perhaps best aired elsewhere, as the pong of rotting horseflesh is putting me off my lunch...

  • I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.

    Bigjon's thread title was an invitation to take aim.

    Or possibly a tentative way of introducing what he wanted to discuss after making an initial exploration of the Ship and concluding that many of us would not necessarily share his opinions?
  • MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Or possibly a tentative way of introducing what he wanted to discuss after making an initial exploration of the Ship and concluding that many of us would not necessarily share his opinions?

    There are ways of doing that which don't invite a comparison with trench warfare.
  • Quite a perspicacious comment, @Colin Smith, if I may say so.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that the revolving-door syndrome applies to other varieties of evangelical church, not just those within the C of E!

    BTW, I agree that the fuss about the gender of a bishop (or a priest) is possibly a symptom of deeper illnesses, but that's perhaps best aired elsewhere, as the pong of rotting horseflesh is putting me off my lunch...

    Thank you. I do my best to keep up.
  • MrsBeaky wrote: »
    Or possibly a tentative way of introducing what he wanted to discuss after making an initial exploration of the Ship and concluding that many of us would not necessarily share his opinions?

    There are ways of doing that which don't invite a comparison with trench warfare.

    True. But I would still maintain that some of his comments rather than the thread title clearly illustrate your point!
  • Perhaps the title does result in an unfortunate image, but, FWIW, @bigjon is defending his trench personfully!
    :sweat_smile:
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that the revolving-door syndrome applies to other varieties of evangelical church, not just those within the C of E!

    I did mention upthread about the enormous amount of churn I discovered while trying to update the church address list. I would put the yearly turnover as approaching 25%, and it wasn't a rotating 25% of less committed members, either. People who had been there for 5, 10, 15 (20 in my case) years would leave.

    And regarding music - it's very difficult to keep it going, but it depends how low your standards are. I taught myself bass guitar (I can hold a rhythm, but don't expect anything fancy) to fill a gap, and young Master Tor is now on drums, despite not ever having had a drum kit and the first time he ever sat down in front of a set was for a Christingle service. (And to be fair to the lad, he absolutely knocked it out the park.) There is no truth in the rumour I joined the worship band to avoid saying the Peace.

    We also have our first curate in living memory. He's from That London. We promise we'll be gentle with him, but hopefully it'll make a considerable difference to our small congregation.
  • I think that, in recent years, our annual turnover has been a bit less than 25%, but the demographics of the parish (which people move into, and out of, at frequent intervals!) are bound to lead to a degree of coming-and-going.

    Those who stay with us - until work, or lack of work, or family circumstances impel them to move on - do so mostly because they chime in with what we are, what we do, and how we worship.
  • Sorry to be so blunt. I'm not saying that all larger churches are like that, and I'm certainly not claiming that all smaller churches are desperate to reach out. But I've been in and around smaller churches for over 30 years and I have become greatly disturbed by the inequalities between congregations which I feel will have a disastrous effect in the longer term.

    IME a large majority of small congregations just want things to go on in the way they always have, and complaints about money are about the lack of the means to that end.

    There's plenty to complain about with the larger congregations too, but people don't become any less selfish when they congregate in smaller numbers.
  • True enough - we have one or two peeps who find it very hard to think about 'doing things differently', or *gasp* 'not at all'!
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host, Epiphanies Host
    Briefly, probably best to keep Iwerne references on this thread.

    Barnabas62
    Purgatory Host
  • IME a large majority of small congregations just want things to go on in the way they always have, and complaints about money are about the lack of the means to that end.

    There's plenty to complain about with the larger congregations too, but people don't become any less selfish when they congregate in smaller numbers.
    That's clearly true; but there are also small congregations who'd love to "do differently" but lack the resources to do so.

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Although my theological conclusions are often Reformed and Evangelical in nature, I don't know whether modern Evangelical would call me Evangelical in my theological method or not. I do believe in the Sufficiency of Scripture, and to a large degree in its inerrancy, when establishing essential doctrine, but I am wary of what is popularly thought of as Biblical fundamentalism. Whilst I firmly believe that Scripture only is sufficient to establish the key doctrines of Christianity, I blanch at the idea of it being used alone without the Early Fathers and Councils of the first five or six hundred years of Christian history to provide a guide to interpretation. That isn't to say that the Fathers and Councils should be used independently of Scripture to define doctrine, but if you have two possible interpretations of a passage of Scripture, and one is fairly consistently followed by the Fathers, and the other one isn't, then you are considerably better off going with the former.

    Given the amount of space given in the magisterial Reformers to quotations from the Early Fathers, I would assert that their approach was that Scripture alone was authoritative, but that did not mean Scripture only. Supporting evidence was allowed. I would say the modern version of "private judgement" can, and often has, drifted well away from its roots. Of course, if you are simply using private judgement as a sniff test - that interpretation seems wonky, heretical, exploitative, whatever - and then going away and studying the Scriptures in their context in order to see that it is, then that is legitimate. What I object to in the strongest terms is every man acting as his own guru (or Pope) and interpreting Scripture in self-serving ways, or deliberately rejecting Patristic witness in favour of their own will.

    Like I say, I don't know whether on that basis modern evangelicals would call me Evangelical, but I seem to line up with the older traditions within the movement.
  • ExclamationMarkExclamationMark Shipmate
    edited August 2019
    bigjon wrote: »
    I'm certainly not claiming that all smaller churches are desperate to reach out. But I've been in and around smaller churches for over 30 years and I have become greatly disturbed by the inequalities between congregations which I feel will have a disastrous effect in the longer term.
    Right, I'm going to make my comments now.

    First, many smaller churches (and this isn't true just within the CofE but those in my own and other denominations as well) look with envy and even anger at the large churches which seem to be able to multiply paid staff like rabbits, and say, "We have less than half a Vicar to serve us: what a difference even one of those people could make to our life and mission".

    Second, you are part of a denomination which shares resources. That's even true of us although we are congregational in structure. Both the denominational ethos and a true sense of Christian generosity should lead to the richer subsidizing the poorer in their task rather than using it for themselves. We see that even in the NT where the Jerusalem church had to be helped from others.

    Third, a large congregation should not, in my view, require a proportionately larger paid staff. What it needs to work out is how to mobilise its members to do much of the work. My suspicion, although I can't prove it, is that the percentage of "committed and active" members in small congregations may be much higher than in larger ones. A respected Baptist colleague suggested years ago that, if a larger church was thinking of employing a second Pastor, they should ask themselves if that was really necessary and, if not, pay for a second staff member in a small inner-city parish where the members were flogging themselves to death trying to keep things going and were desperate to reach out. (Needless to say, his words went unheeded).

    The net effect of all this is twofold. First it reinforces the notion of "success", meaning that more and more Christians flock to the Big Churches (with all their thrilling activities and high-quality worship) while passing many other congregations in perhaps less congenial areas where their presence and service would be greatly valued - for instance, many churches don't even have one decent musician, let alone a worship band. Second it deprives many needy areas and parishes of the resources which could be used to do mission and serve their communities, meaning that ultimately those churches will fail and the Christian witnesses in those places disappear.

    Sorry to be so blunt. I'm not saying that all larger churches are like that, and I'm certainly not claiming that all smaller churches are desperate to reach out. But I've been in and around smaller churches for over 30 years and I have become greatly disturbed by the inequalities between congregations which I feel will have a disastrous effect in the longer term.

    There's a lot of sense in your comments BT but it's not 100% of the truth IME. Sometimes small churches want to be small and don't exactly welcome outsiders who are either different or likely to shake them up. Sometimes they say they want to grow and when the resources are provided - well, it's not that kind of growth they want. I accept the view that in a small church more people are likely to be engaged -- but engaged on what? In a small community you have an increased tendency towards control and following a strong character's or one family's party line.

    Sometimes larger churches can resource others through employing a second minister who is given a wider brief than just his/her own back yard.

    We both come from the same denomination but I am increasingly of the opinion that we need to work at our interdependence by some kind of loose federation where groups of churches support a team. Large and small alike have access to missional resources but will also need to recognise their responsibility too and not just sit there and be complacent or critical but be missional.

    Adjusted quoting code for clarity - I hope. BroJames Purgatory Host
  • Well, quite - but Con-Evos do seem to think (and I guess they're not alone in this) that 'big is beautiful'.

    Yes, a church may have a membership of 1000 today, but how many of them will still be there in a year or two's time? Revolving doors, and all that...
    I don't think we're making bigjon feel very welcome.

    Maybe not, but he started this thread! And, in all fairness, he's fighting his corner quite well...sort of...
    :wink:

    It's certainly illuminating, if not remotely surprising, as to how con-evos think.

    Well it's the same in reverse too! How on earth this will ever be resolved without schism I don't know
  • Well it's the same in reverse too! How on earth this will ever be resolved without schism I don't know

    It takes forbearance from both sides. I'm not going to say 'compromise' because I've seen how that works (not) first hand. Ever since Keele, there has been a tension: ConEvos (cf Open Evos) have not committed to the CofE, always holding the threat of leaving over the church's head if they didn't get their own way. On the other side, there is suspicion and sometimes open hostility from the other parts of the church.

    Having been privy to the ConEvo arguments, I would say that the fault is mainly theirs, and that the reaction from the CofE has been unfortunate but understandable - it's been a story of containment and isolation for most decades since 1967.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    Eirenist wrote: »
    I don't really want to keep jumping on bigjon. The underlying issue seems to be whether Christians are to regard the text the Bible as the beginning or the end of their journey with Christ.

    That's genetic. He can't help it. Can't be helped.

    What do you mean by that?
    (Also, I for one am not proposing to “help” bigjon, and I’m not sure anyone else is either.)
  • bigjon wrote: »
    The Church of England is structured in a way that led
    Not so, I think. The alternative to a magisterium is for individuals to prayerfully submit themselves to the biblical teaching they receive. As bishops and presbyters prayerfully exercise themselves in the scriptures and teach them faithfully, this in itself banishes strange and erroneous doctrine and is the true source of their authority.


    Thanks for expanding on the point about abuse revelations. That makes more sense now. I note the hostly advice to keep discussions of Iwerne and all that to the other thread. With that in mind, and thinking about abuse more generally, it’s clearly good news indeed that someone can come to the decision that abuse is bad from Bible study, and decided to act on that advice, against the teaching of those in authority, who I’m going to assume, pronounced their own teaching to be Biblical. (There’s a whole separate issue here about how people who don’t have access to such study might determine they are being abused, and what hope they might have, especially given what we are coming to understand about trauma, and the kind of teaching often given in conservative evangelical situations about the body, and feelings, but that’s an enormous tangent to be perused another day).

    With all this in mind, I’m still struggling to reconcile your earlier post, quoted above, with your more recent reply to me, which owing to a massive edit fail I have now lost. A decision is made that it’s “God as God’s word” to which we must submit. Unless it’s not being faithfully preached. Though the preacher will say that it is. Though I might discern through my own study that it isn’t.

    If it can be discerned through scripture that abuse is wrong (and thank God that it can, and is), then my discernment through scripture and discussion that women hold equal authority with men, and that equal marriage should be institutionalised in church should be ok too, yes?
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    I think if you even think about going to Scripture, or anything else for that matter, to confirm that abuse is wrong it's time to check you're not actually a psychopath.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    I think if you even think about going to Scripture, or anything else for that matter, to confirm that abuse is wrong it's time to check you're not actually a psychopath.

    It's more about deciding what constitutes abuse, surely? Even in my father's lifetime hitting kids has gone from normal parental behaviour to being considered abusive. It's not the mark of a psychopath to not realise something is abusive when it is widespread in society - it is the mark of a saint to realise that it is.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    I think if you even think about going to Scripture, or anything else for that matter, to confirm that abuse is wrong it's time to check you're not actually a psychopath.

    From the position of the abuser, absolutely. It's more complicated when you are the abused and your world is sufficiently distorted, by whatever means, that the abuse appears to be part of your normal experience.

    That distortion can happen for many reasons but one possible reason for in-church abuse is that the abused person has been taught to disregard what the 'world' regards as okay in favour of a strictly in-church view of morality. It's the flip-side of the "real world says homosexuality okay but we know God rejects it" argument.
  • Cheers, @KarlLB that’s a more pithy and succinct version of what I was thinking.
    bigjon wrote: »
    It’s God as revealed by God's word to whom we ultimately submit, not the vicar.

    This is the bit I meant, btw.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    I think if you even think about going to Scripture, or anything else for that matter, to confirm that abuse is wrong it's time to check you're not actually a psychopath.

    It's more about deciding what constitutes abuse, surely? Even in my father's lifetime hitting kids has gone from normal parental behaviour to being considered abusive. It's not the mark of a psychopath to not realise something is abusive when it is widespread in society - it is the mark of a saint to realise that it is.

    What's alleged in these camps with this Smyth character goes well beyond anything considered acceptable or widespread even Back In The Day.
  • I am increasingly of the opinion that we need to work at our interdependence by some kind of loose federation where groups of churches support a team. Large and small alike have access to missional resources but will also need to recognise their responsibility too and not just sit there and be complacent or critical but be missional.
    That seems to make a lot of sense, yes.

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