letters to the editor
The real leadership
From the Revd Dr Edward Baty
The article by the Bishop of Bolton [ND December] and the responses in the January issue reflect what appears to be a curious omission in Anglican thinking about Holy Orders and their purpose.
The bishop - according to my reckoning - did not mention the sacraments at all. The same is true of the responses. All is concentrated on 'leadership' as if the only kind of leadership in the Church was that of bishops and priests - the thinking behind the proponents of women in the priesthood and episcopate.
As I reflect on the leadership in the parishes where I have ministered over the last forty and more years I beg to differ. There the lasting leadership has been almost entirely lay! Clergy come and go, and the ongoing leadership remaining in the parish carries on their 'common priesthood' effectively, honestly and devotedly. This seems the overall pattern I see all around me still.
We are, surely, slipping into a dangerous equation of leadership with authority, of sacramental authority with leadership rather than ministry, and most dangerously of all of church government with leadership. Both priesthood and episcopacy are sacramental ministries enabling the real and enduring leadership of the church, the unordained faithful leadership in every congregation.
e.b aty@ntlworld. com
Mary in her place
From Mr Clive Scowen
Whatever accord there maybe between Conservative Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics on issues such as women in the episcopate, it does not extend to the matter of the Marian dogmas! It comes as no surprise that there are Anglican Papal-ists' who believe in such notions (which enjoy no support whatever in the New Testament), nor that they also believe in Marian apparitions, but please will they not try to suggest that all Anglicans are now required to accept them.
The ARCIC document Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ enjoys no authority in the Church of England. General Synod has never endorsed ARCIC's view that the dogmas are 'consonant with the scriptures and the ancient common traditions' and is not likely to.
Let us unite around what we can agree about: that the New Testament witness presents the Virgin Mary to us as an obedient, holy servant of the Lord whose submissive and cooperative role in enabling God's purposes in the Incarnation to be put into effect is without equal. All generations rightly call this highly favoured lady blessed. It is fair to say that evangelicals have not always accorded to Mary the honour which is her due, and in that they have been less than biblical, but we do not need to gild the lily by adding to the already glorious biblical witness about her. If try to do that we end up dishonouring her by turning her into a sort of demigod instead of a Spirit-filled woman to whose humble, holy example we can all aspire in the power of the Holy Spirit.
69 Brooke Avenue, Harrow HA2 OND
Don't bash gays
From Ms Armstead
I have some sympathy with Andrea Williams [ND January] in regard to the non-employment part of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, if only because this government is bent on regulating to death all aspects of our lives. What was wrong with the good old British laissez-faire approach? In the real world, people, apart from a brutish minority, are pretty relaxed about homosexuality and do not discriminate.
Christians do, in fact, contrary to Andrea Williams' assertion, 'discriminate out of bigotry or prejudice'. Be that as it may, if allowed to regulate themselves, how many gay couples would choose to stay in a Christian B&B? Similarly, how many homosexual groups would choose to meet in a church hall when there is an abundance of much more exciting gay meeting places?
As a Christian whose hero is Jesus, I find nothing in the Gospels that leads me to believe that he condemns homosexuality - nothing in my heart either. The attitude expressed in Ms Williams' article can only serve to isolate us from the mainstream of society even more than we are already.
From George O. Hillard III
I can't say I enjoyed Geoffrey Kirk's article about Katherine Jefferts Schori [ND January - the way we live now], but I did read it and found it to be accurate and comprehensive. The final words 'carefully knitted euphemisms' were apt.
Euphemisms are used deliberately when an organization wishes to cloud meaning, and sometimes to keep the troops from knowing exactly what it is doing. The Episcopal Church has been doing this for years. Reading Frank Griswold, or worse, hearing him speak, one tends to believe that he actually thinks in euphemisms.
Best regards for 2007: it will be a historic year, I think, and a most important one for many of us in the Anglican Communion.
7 Wisteria Way, Whispering Pines,
from George Sinclair
It was with something approaching amazement that I thumbed the pages of the January edition of New Directions in search of any reference to the Bishop of Southwark and his nocturnal ramblings.
Whilst a serious journal such as yours should not in any way gloat on the misfortunes of anyone, least of all a successor of the Apostles, your readership expects comment on aspects of Church life which have featured so prominently in the media.
Tom Butler's visit to the Irish Embassy resulted in far more column inches and air time than the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to the Pope. That, if nothing else about those extraordinary events, merits consideration.
3 Rue du Bac, 34120 Pezenas
Reply from the editor
The respect we accord to our bishops is tempered by a willingness to point out their failings and laugh at their mistakes. A fine cartoon was drawn for January's issue, but was withdrawn. It was possible that the Bishop might have apologized, and we did not wish to appear merciless.
As the cartoon is almost affectionate in its gentle mockery, do turn to r 11.
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