Principles of flourishing?
Posted by Revd Dr Lee Gatiss, 2 Apr 2015
Lee Gatiss looks at the 'Five Guiding Principles' now being used to filter all appointments and training for ministry in the Church.
Our bishops have recently decided to add to The Thirty-nine Articles. Well, not in so many words. What they have done (without much in the way of due legal process, unfortunately) is to add to the number of official documents to which ordinands and ministers are required to give assent. From now on, it will be necessary for everyone entering ministry, or moving church jobs, to give their assent to the bishops’ ‘Five Guiding Principles’.
This is a controversial step. It has been hotly debated within theological colleges, not least amongst those who are about to be ordained. It has come as something of a surprise to learn about another hurdle they must clear. And so it should.
Five guiding principles
The Bishops’ Five Principles spring from the recent compromise on the women bishops issue. They appeared as part of the renewed negotiations after the clear ‘No’ vote in November 2012. Though they were never formally agreed to by participants in those discussions, they were described by Archbishop Justin as an ‘electrified ringfence’ around the issue. They have now become an electrified hoop through which every prospective minister needs to jump.
The spring edition of Crossway
Posted by Lee Gatiss, 31 Mar 2015
As the General Election campaign finally begins in earnest, the Spring edition of Crossway has just been published, leading with an article on “British values."
Immigration may well be a big issue during this election, and so we also explore some of the opportunities that has brought us for spreading the gospel. Rather than the kind of syncretism that has been observed recently in parts of Southwark diocese, Stephen Watkinson, who ministers in a predominantly Muslim area of Northern England, has some pointers to help us think about building bridges and building churches which honour our great God and saviour, Jesus Christ.
As more and more women bishops are announced, Lee Gatiss looks at the House of Bishops’ “Five Guiding Principles” on the issue, which are being used to filter all appointments. Can ordinands assent to them with a clear conscience?
Speak (not) of the Devil
Posted by Revd Rachel Marszalek, 17 Feb 2015
In this article from Crossway, Spring 2014, Rachel Marszalek argues that the new baptismal liturgy, now being trialled in churches, edits out key Christian doctrines.
The church is experimenting with its baptism liturgy. Edward Malnick, writing in the Telegraph, reported the news as follows: ‘In the current version… vicars ask parents and godparents if they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God” and if they “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour”. However, the new text asks them instead to “reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises”, with no explicit mention of the devil or sin.’
Reading this, I remembered a paper by Mike Ovey, The Grace of God or the World of the West? from GAFCON 2. In it, he said, ‘My first really significant encounter with worldwide Anglicanism came at theological college. It was 1990 and an east African priest was on secondment with us. He preached in the college chapel. He posed a question. Which gospel do you westerners want us to believe? The one you came with or the one you preach now?’
Ordination Training and the Church of England
Posted by Revd Dr Simon Vibert, 16 Feb 2015
Simon Vibert from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford briefs us on recent changes in Church of England Ordination training so that we can pray for Ordinands and tutors, and for what lies ahead.
First some assumptions: I take it that we believe that well-trained clergy are essential. Clergy need to be schooled in traditional disciplines such as biblical studies (so they have confidence to proclaim the gospel), biblical languages (in order to study the text in detail), Church History, Ethics, and Doctrine (to learn the lessons of the past and refute error). Alongside these subjects are the practical areas of Preaching, Leadership, Church Growth, and Apologetics, all of which are best learned from practitioners and by having the opportunity to hone skills and grow in godliness during the training experience. Academic Learning; Practical Training; Personal and Spiritual Formation can only be truly attained when sustained attention is given to the training experience of an Ordinand.
J. C. Ryle, one of the founders of Wycliffe Hall (opened in 1877), wrote the following in an essay entitled ‘The Importance of Dogma’:
‘The consequences of this widespread dislike of dogma are very serious in the present day. … It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin a phrase, a jellyfish Christianity…: that is, Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.
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