Bishop of Oxford and the relational dilemma for Reformed Anglicans

“On Palm Sunday in St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, their new diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, made a statement that epitomises the relational dilemma facing Reformed Anglicans in the Church of England.

Introducing his excellent sermon on our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as recorded in Matthew 21, Dr Croft said:

‘It’s my hope to come as a servant to this very large Diocese, to respect and honour all traditions within it and cherish the life of the Church in its many different forms and do my best to lead us in God’s mission.’ …

His sermon was most edifying, biblically faithful and Christ-honouring. Lord willing, he will do a lot of good in Oxford Diocese.

But the difficulty for a Reformed Anglican church such as St Ebbe’s surely comes in their Bishop’s apparently intentional commitment to theological diversity within the Church of England. …”

The Rev Julian Mann wonders what reformed Anglicans should do when their bishop endorses ‘theological diversity’.

Photo of Bishop Croft: Diocese of Oxford.

Easter meaning. C of E training. The faithful are deciding.

“… after the joy of the Easter service and the thrilling reminders of the Gospel truth, Chris found himself feeling very despondent three weeks later, sitting in his study with his two trainee lay readers. They were all having a debrief of the Lent and Easter season, and Karen and Michael were reflecting on their latest seminar with the Diocesan lay ministry training programme.

‘We heard, er, shall we say a very different take on the Road to Emmaus story, from the Dean, Reverend Doctor whatever his name is’, said Karen. ‘Yes – a good job you warned us beforehand’, continued Michael. …”

– At Anglican Mainstream, Andrew Symes illustrates the all-too-familiar story of liberalism in the Church of England. Tragically, similar stories could be told across Australia, as many of our readers could attest.

On Leaving the Church of England — Gavin Ashenden

The Rev. Gavin Ashenden gives his reasons for leaving the Church of England in this video released overnight.

While our readers might hold to a somewhat different theological perspective (Gavin speaks from an Anglo-Catholic position), he raises concerns which many would share. The video runs for 27 minutes.


Princeton Seminary cancels award to Tim Keller after LGBT complaint – Christian Post.

Princeton Seminary reforms its views on honoring Tim Keller – Christianity Today.

Church Society pays tribute to former Director

“Members of Church Society will be saddened to hear of the recent death of the Revd David Streater who was Director of the Society 1991 – 1998.”

– Michael Walters pays tribute at the Church Society blog.

(On this anniversary of the death of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, it might be appropriate to read this article by David Streater on another Anglican Reformer who died for the gospel, Bishop Hugh Latimer. – PDF.)

Former Queen’s Chaplain ‘resigning’ from Church of England

“A former Queen’s chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.

Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry. … 

An ardent conservative on both sexuality and women priests, Rev Ashenden confirmed to Christian Today he had signed the ‘deed of relinquishment’ under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870. This starts a six-month interim period before he officially leaves the Church.

He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.”

– Report from Christian Today. Photo from

Philip North crisis: ‘Good Disagreement’ has become ‘bad bullying’

“When the house that has been painstakingly constructed on the sand falls flat, there is nothing to rejoice over. Discernment works better when unclouded by the sin of taking and giving offence.

Bishop Philip North’s election to the Diocese of Sheffield was a litmus test. … a serious test for the much vaunted ‘Good Disagreement’ that Archbishop Justin Welby has staked his archiepiscopal strategy on.

It has all gone badly wrong.

– Dr Gavin Ashenden guest posts at Archbishop Cranmer.

Those who attacked Philip North have made same-sex blessing compromise impossible

“Remember that ‘radical new Christian inclusion’ Justin Welby spoke of in the wake of Synod’s decision not to ‘take note’ of the Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relations? Well, you can forget it. …”

‘Archbishop Cranmer’ argues the hounding of Philip North demonstrates that ‘radical inclusion’ is not possible in today’s Church of England.

(Photo of Bp North courtesy Diocese of Blackburn.)

Exacerbating the credibility crisis

“It is with regret that we have today heard that Philip North, suffragan Bishop of Burnley, has chosen not to accept his nomination as diocesan Bishop of Sheffield.

The circumstances surrounding his withdrawal exacerbate the already acute credibility crisis for the Church of England, especially in its treatment of those with traditional Christian views. What now does ‘flourishing’ mean?…”

– Church Society Director Lee Gatiss responds to the news that Philip North has been forced to withdraw his nomination as Bishop of Sheffield.

Statement on the Rt Rev’d Philip North’s withdrawal from nomination as the next Bishop of Sheffield

Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, has released this statement on the withdrawal of Bishop Philip North for consideration as the next Bishop of Sheffield.

I am deeply saddened that Philip North has felt forced to withdraw from his nomination as the next Bishop of Sheffield. It will be a huge loss to Sheffield and is a body blow to the concept of ‘mutual flourishing’ which lay at the heart of the agreement to introduce women bishops in the Church of England.

Philip has huge gifts to offer the Church, and his leadership in Sheffield would have given a great boost to mission.

However, the damage to the principles on which the House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests is based, is profound. If all orders of ministry and all appointments are equally open to men and women, then the same has to apply to those who hold that the ministries of men and women are distinctively different. If it does not, if there is, in effect, a glass ceiling that prevents those of traditional churchmanships ministering at all levels of the Church, then the Declaration and the provisions that came with it lose all credibility.

I know that both Archbishops were personally wholly committed to the concept of mutual flourishing and it was warmly supported by the General Synod. If it is to survive as our governing motif, then urgent action will be needed to demonstrate its effectiveness. In the absence of such action, we will simply have given in to those who hounded Philip North out of office.

– So much for ‘radical inclusion’ in the Church of England. Emphasis added.

And from Bishop North’s statement:

“There is clearly much to be done on what it means to disagree well and to live with theological difference in the Church of England. The highly individualised nature of the attacks upon me have been extremely hard to bear. If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love, how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the name of Christ?”

A Call to Evangelicals to Stand Firm — Bp. Rod Thomas

“Since the widely publicised General Synod debate about the House of Bishops’ Report on marriage and same-sex relationships, there has been speculation about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ and a number of bishops have called for the Church of England to be more affirming of same-sex relationships. The latter see the Church as being on a trajectory towards change. One bishop, John Wraw, has explicitly said he hopes that in time there will be full acceptance of same-sex marriages in the Church of England.

Evangelicals in the Church of England are on a different trajectory. We hope we are not insensitive to the value of intimate relationships or the needs we all feel for intimacy and life sharing. But it is both our conviction and our experience that, as people who find their identity in Christ, there is great joy, fulfilment and blessing in obedience to the Word of God. …”

– Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, calls evangelical Christians in the Church of England back to the saving gospel, and away from false teaching.

Curtains and convictions: how not to get preferment

“Harry had felt a bit out of place ever since he arrived at the budget hotel for the ‘Pipeline’ conference. The other participants (he couldn’t help calling them ‘contestants’ to himself) all seemed terribly nice, but there was a slight aura of unreality about the earnest attentiveness in each conversation.

“Well I suppose we’re all pretending a bit”, he said to himself. He didn’t want to go, but his wife had persuaded him. After all, now that there was an evangelical ‘talent pipeline’ for appointment to senior posts, it would be wise to make use of it. Perhaps he could get on the inside track, and influence the organisation from within? …”

– Here’s a short story by Andrew Symes at Anglican Mainstream.

Slightly related: Yes, Prime Minister.

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