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CHARLESTON, SC: No Doomsday Scenario for Church of England over Women Bishops

CHARLESTON, SC: No Doomsday Scenario for Church of England over Women Bishops, Homosexuality
Church of England is not a state church, says Bishop Chartres

By David W. Virtue in Charleston
January 21, 2012

There are no Doomsday scenarios that will split the Church of England if women bishops or homosexual unions are recognized by the church, Bishop of London Richard Chartres told members of Mere Anglicanism, a conference on the Once and Future Church.

"I hope we shall resist these things. There are large numbers of people who see that attempts to enforce a common line on these issues as unproductive. This is not the proper expression of a society where there is genuine freedom of religion."

Questioned by Virtueonline if he thought that the courts would ultimately force the appointment of gay bishops in the Church of England and how long he thought it would be before same sex marriages are legally taking place in the Church of England, Chartres replied, "There is a danger that the state turns into a church...an old fashioned kind a church which is immensely proscriptive and is a pre-modern version of the church. There is a secular relationship enforced by law. There is the temptation to constantly present a new kind of religion by law."

The Anglo-Catholic bishop said there is a very healthy stream in English political life. "Politicians don't do God. We need to help them to remain true to that tradition. Attempts to impose on a community ideals that run contrary to its title deeds and to the whole will fail."


"Some think the Church of England was disestablished in 1821 with the abolition of the Test and Crops Acts. The House of Commons and people of England and others and said there was no one faith England and so it became a free place in the religious market of ideas. The Church of England was recognized but not as a state church. The Church of England is the most comprehensive church in England with virtually no financial support from the state. The Church is a voluntary association. Its health and vigor depends on the fact that it owns the title deeds. It must resist any attempt to transform the state into a kind of secular church. France has gone down that road."

Chartres indicated this had not happened in the UK because of the established position of the Church of England. "The public square is an open space. Muslims in UK can enter that public space. We have presented our arguments in support of the way in which we have been organizers of faith and can have a place in the public square not to be defensive."

Charters continued, the state must not turn into the Church; this is a pre modern notion. The State must not impose something on the church

"The unity of the Anglican world is a unity based on a share value of liturgies. It is a shared liturgical inheritance passed in the night. One of the needs of the moment for an institution in evolution is to be more seriously international. I emphasize in that in the present circumstances and the development of institutions is to be liturgical, to shore up the radical importance of doctrine and to recognize non-biblical notions and to listen to one another.

"The speed of communications is not necessarily good for profound communion. There is a lack of time to digest and listen carefully to one another. Rites have changed without mutuality and have become one of the most divisive moves in the fragmentation of the [Anglican] Communion."


Chartres took a swipe at Evangelicals claiming they do not engage fully in Scripture as a whole symphony. "The Psalter goes through Scripture each year. If you have your truth and I have my truth you end in chaos. Truth as my possession is a route to idolatry. There is a confidence to engage with other people with other people if we engage all of Scripture."

Chartres opined that to gravitate to those portions of Scripture, the capacity of Scripture is greatly diminished. Use of lectionary, he cried. "Avoid tyrannizing over the text of scripture and analyzing the text. We need to put ourselves under the judgment of Scripture. We must not be selective in tyrannizing over the text with our eyes. What is appealing today may not be food we need later in life."


Chartres praised ALPHA, but cautioned Evangelicals for engaging in one or two aspects of doctrine and focusing on a few Scriptures; not on the whole of Scripture.

Chartres said there was a danger of the Prayer Book becoming a museum piece. He thinks it is important for Anglicans to tell the story with a new confidence that they can translate into reformed lives. "We have become a culture of instant fulfillment and instant gratification. The Prayer Book is not a flashy way of transformation."


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