I Want to Go to Heaven, but I’m Not Going to Stay There

Last night I finished N. T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. When I was writing the blog entry Joe Klein, Rick Warren, and Heaven I came across a review of the book and it piqued my curiosity. Based on my reading of Wright, I realised that I had fallen into the same misconception as Joe Klein.

Both Klein and I were writing from the presumption that dying and going to heaven (or not) is for eternity. It’s not that the New Testament teaches this, but only that it has become presumed in much of Western Christianity, from which I built my theology and Klein has used as his straw man. Wright demonstrates that the New Testament is much more concerned with the Resurrection. He emphasises the centrality of Jesus’ Resurrection (having long been one of the most vocal scholars  in the battle against liberalism and the mythologising of Gospel)  and clarifies how death is simply the way station on the on the road to our own resurrections.

As an Orthodox Christian, I don’t entirely agree with Wright’s view of the saints in heaven, but it is closer than most Protestant perspectives. He is mostly concerned with distinguishing his view from the Roman Church. At times he refers to ideas that have been preserved in Orthodoxy and lost in the West.

In the last part of the book, Wright explains how he sees this theology of the Resurrection as it affects the role of the Church today. While Wright eschews the liberalism of the Social Gospel, as an American Christian, I have not had the same view as Wright regarding the role of the State, particularly in the welfare of the individual or in the intervention with business or the free market in effecting social justice. Unlike some Amazon (and other online retailer) reviewers, I don’t think that this makes Wright a neo-Marxist or neo-socialist. Rather, I think those reviews substantiate Wright’s view that conservative Christians in the US have tied conservative theology and conservative economics so closely together that to challenge any assumption of the latter is to lose any credentials as a proponent of the former.

I think it is good that Bishop of Durham and highest ranking evangelical in the Church of England has challenged some of the presumptions of evangelical American Christianity. Most Americans get very defensive about any challenge to anything American, especially by Europeans. This may be because most European challenges to most things American are based in nonsense rather than good theology. Tom Wright is not talking nonsense. This is not wishy-washy Emerging Church neo-liberal evangelicalism.

This is a book which focuses first on personal and cosmic eschatology. It is not a pop-theology revelation of The Revelation. It is a look at what the New Testament and the early Church viewed as the hope for the Christian, the essence of the Gospel. Wright’s view is that if we are hoping for life after death we are too short-sighted. We have to re-focus on life after life after death and this will change the way we look at ourselves and our place in the world.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Every chapter in it is almost worth the entire price. It is so good that I have ordered copies of it for a couple of friends. Even though I haven’t ordered a copy for you, you need to go out and get it anyway.

Debating Whether or Not to Share the Gospel

Now you would have thought the answer would have been in the long tradition of missionaries sent throughout the world. Or maybe they would have seen the Great Commission in Matthew 28.  But no.

The General Synod of the Church of England is going to debate whether the C of E bishops should report to the Synod on “their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in multi-faith Britain” and give examples of how the Gospel should be shared.  In other words, the issue is whether the church should try to convert non-believers in any religion and remarkably more controversially, adherents to non-Christian religions.

A lay member of the Synod put a motion forward for July’s meeting of the Synod, but it was not heard. It appears enough pressure was brought to have it put on the February agenda. Of course it could always be shelved at the last minute again.

In the Church of England they like to avoid controversial things like sharing the Gospel.  In February the Synod meeting will also debate whether clergy should be banned from being members of the British National Party. This is probably because there were C of E clergymen on the BNP membership list that was stolen and published on the Internet.

There will be a presentation on “the implications of the financial crisis and recession”. The Church is worried that the economic downturn could damage the its billion-pound investment in the stock market as well as takings in the collection plate.

This is all much easier to deal with than the claims of the Gospel. After all, if you go around saying Jesus is the only way to God, then you are likely to offend the Muslim community. If you dare to state the obvious that this means you should attempt to convert Muslims, then you stand in direct confrontation with the stated Muslim aims of convert Britain to Islam, and the C of E doesn’t like confrontation.

As the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith (wherever that diocese is) said earlier this year, “Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another’s paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities.”

At the same time, a church spokesperson explained, “We have a mission-focused Christian presence in every community, including those where there are a large number of Muslims. That engagement is based on the provisions of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” That’s right, the C of E’s engagement with missions is based on the ECHR, not the Bible or the Tradition of the Church.

The Swinging Vicar

I’m a bit surprised the Church of England has been so harsh on Teresa Davies.

Sure, there was the problem of showing up so drunk for services that she visibly swayed from side to side.

And then there were the swinging holidays in the south of France. She and her husband advertise on swinging websites. She admitted to the tribunal that she and her husband meet strangers for sex. She had previously denied she had sex outside of her marriage.

As a result a church tribunal has banned her from serving as a priestess for 12 years. I’m sure they will hear from the swinging lobby within the C of E on this one. After all there seem to be strong lobby groups for others who openly have sexual relationships outside of marriage. If anything, this seems to be a case of heterosexual discrimination. Maybe it will even go to an employment tribunal.

Within the team ministry in Daventry, she was given special responsibility for children’s work. She won’t have to give that up entirely. She’s now training to be a Religious Education teacher in schools. She can bring her values into that values vacuum that is British education.

If that doesn’t work out, after a few years she can always go back to being an Anglican priestess.

Open Font, Open Heresy

I went to a baptism today. Actually it was a triple baptism.

Being an Anglican rite, certain things are optional. For example, none of the parents were Anglican. I know that at least some of the godparents were not Anglican either. (My best guess is that none of them are.) I know that the parents of two of the children are not married. (My best guess is that the others weren’t either.)

Now here is what I don’t get. Even in the wishy-washy (or rather, the wishier-washier) alternative to the Common Worship text, the parents have to turn to Christ, repent of their sin, and renounce evil. If they are living in fornication when they walk into the Church and when they walk out, with no intention of changing that arrangement, how is it that the church allows them to go through the motions?

The church cannot know the secrets of the heart, but they can easily know the openness of cohabitation. The C of E substitutes social occasions for sacraments. Having the baby “done” is an excuse to have a party. Actually when I saw the godfather of one of the children with a diamond ear stud and his shirt undone to show off his bling, I knew this was going to be what could only  be called an ex-chav-aganza.

Is it any surprise that if the sacrament of baptism has lost its sacredness, the rest soon follow? You end up with things like women pretending to be priests (or even bishops) or the proported marriage of a man and a man.

Anglicans Promote Atheism

The Church of England is apologising to Charles Darwin. Given that Mr Darwin is dead, this seems rather pointless. But then the Anglicans have never been put off by pointlessness. It rather typifies much of the Church of England. According to The Daily Telegraph:

“The statement will read: Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practise the old virtues of ‘faith seeking understanding’ and hope that makes some amends.”

Not only are they apologising to him, they are trying to make it up to him. Part of the way they are doing that is by creating (if I can use that term) a section dedicated to him on their website. Or perhaps the website just evolved that way.

The Telegraph further notes, “The bold move is certain to dismay sections of the Church that believe in creationism and regard Darwin’s views as directly opposed to traditional Christian teaching.” I’m sure those sections of the Church of England that believe in creationism have already used up their dismay on the all of the other moves that have been directly opposed to traditional Christian teaching. They have approved bishopettes to go with their priestesses.  Abortion is a necessary bad but according to the General Synod there are “conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative.” So is it really that big a jump to promoting atheism?

I hope Mr Darwin, wherever he may be, feels vindicated.

Women Bishops May Be Beating Their Husbands

In an appropraite follow up to the previous blog post, the Ministry of Justice is reporting that the number of arrests for violence carried out by women has doubled since 2003. Violence now accounts for 35% of arrests and is the most common category of crime committed by women.

By these statistics, there are the equivalent of 240 violent attacks by women in the UK each day. But this really doesn’t tell the whole story, especially when it comes to domestic violence. According to a report prepared for GMTV,

British police attend 75,000 domestic violence cases a year where men are the victim although this could be at least half the real figure as surveys show 50% of men haven’t called the police when attacked, putting the figure to 150,000 a year or more.

Since there are no women bishops in the UK yet, we can’t ascribe any of these attacks to them.  After all, we are in a place where it is culturally acceptable for women to beat people.

In the US 3.2 million men each year are the victims of domestic violence. This sounds like it’s a place where it is culturally acceptable to beat your husband. Using the logic of Catherine Roskam, chances are there are some women bishops who beat their husbands.

Bishop, Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife?

A putative Episcopal bishopette has accused her some of her male colleagues at the Lambeth Conference of beating their wives. Catherine Roskam, suffrgan in the diocese of New York said,  “We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives… many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife.”

The comments were published in the gay Anglican newsletter Integrity. Having read the whole article, it is clear from the context that the remarks were aimed at those nefarious conservative African bishops. It was perfectly clear to Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who is not particularly conservative, but came to the UK from Uganda. He challenged Roskam to produce evidence,  which as far as I am aware she has been unable to demonstrate.

I can’t imagine that Roskam would be happy with her male colleagues stereotyping female bishops.

Fighting FOCA in Word and Deed, or Talbot, Tatchell and Tactlessness

In the wake of the the Jerusalem conference held by conservative Anglicans, British evangelical Anglican leaders met Tuesday at All Souls Church, Langham Place in London. This is the parish where John Stott was the rector for many years and for even longer has been the rector emeritus. The clergy and lay leaders were in London to establish the British arm of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FOCA).

So a gathering of evangelical leaders at a leading evangelical church shouldn’t be controversial, should it? It wouldn’t have been, except for Peter Tatchell. Tatchell is the gay equivalent of Fred Phelps. You know, someone who has no sense of propriety in getting across his message about homosexuality. But while Phelps and his crew stand at a short distance, holding signs and shouting, Tatchell likes to be a little more hands-on.

Tatchell, the self-styled human rights campaigner, is not a big fan of the right to peaceably assemble. He claims he was “violently ejected” from All Soul’s after what the left-wing Christian think-tank Ekklesia refers to as “seeking to mount a protest against a hardline Anglican group”. In other word, after invading the meeting and attempting to disrupt it, he was removed – by force, since he refused to leave otherwise. This was not a public service to which there was an open invitation – like the time he disrupted the Easter service at Canterbury Cathedral when then archbishop was delivering his Easter message – but rather a private gathering that happened to be using the facilities of All Souls. This was just blatant trespassing.

And if Peter Tatchell is ridiculous with the spoken word, David Talbot was just as much so with the written word, in his open letter to the Rector.

It is a shame that the Anglican Church and, on this occasion, All Souls in particular, continues to deny the God-given reality of homosexuality and [God’s] blessing that gay Christians know in their daily lives. I have looked at the list of speakers at the conference and see no hope of a contrasting Biblical view being put forward.

First of all, the Anglican Church affirms Talbot’s view, hence the whole FOCA thing. All Souls has always been an evangelical church, so it is hardly on this occasion alone that it has made its view of the Bible very clear. And as far as I can tell, no one at All Souls has denied the reality of homosexuality or that gay Christians can know blessing in their daily lives. The only things it denies are that homosexuality is normative and that God can bless any sexual union outside of the marriage of a man and a woman. I wonder why Mr Talbot didn’t put it in those terms.

Of course the silliest bit is the last. He looked at the list of speakers at a conference of leaders opposed to his view of homosexuality and homosexual behaviour, meeting together for the specific purpose of breaking with the Anglican communion over just that issue, and he is disappointed that there is no contrasting view (Biblical or otherwise) being put forward? If he were serious about his argument, I would say he was clearly off the planet. Of course he’s not serious. He’s just manipulating words. He’s just trying to look wounded and persecuted.

After all, he has the whole rest of the Anglican Communion to cuddle up to, with meaningful “I’m OK, You’re OK” sermons to salve his wounds.

Enough is Enough

So while the Catholics are baptising the children of unrepentant, flagrant fornicators, the Anglicans have a whole other thing going on. At least this is in the news.

The Anglican Communion has been split in two like the veil in front of the Holy of Holies. I can’t believe it has taken so long to happen. There have been ruptures and breakaway groups and flying bishops, both across diocesan lines in England and across intercontinental lines in America. Now we are talking about at least half of the Communion saying enough is enough.

They are finally having the testicular fortitude and intellectual honesty to start referring to a false gospel.

Robert Pigott, religion correspondent for the BBC, gets it. The rift is not about homosexuality.

In reality, the dispute centres on how strictly Anglicans should interpret the Bible, and whether, for example, it should be read as ruling out active homosexuality as a sin.

Homosexuality is simply the presenting issue – the human behaviour that exposes radically different approaches to the Bible, and helps to make this such a fundamental dispute.

It is not coincidental that the same bishops who are promoting the normalisation of gay “marriage” are also the ones who don’t believe in the Resurrection or the exclusive claims of the Gospel. After all, the Presiding Bishopette of the Episcopal Church doesn’t believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. She’s echoed by Bishop Marc Andrus of California, who told the BBC,

The only need is that which St Paul expressed, that each of us should be ready to give witness to the faith that is within us. St Paul saw no need to seek to convert, but simply to make clear the origins and the dimensions of one’s own faith. God leads each of us in the spiritual path that leads to communion with the Divine.

So Jesus, whoever he might be to you, is a way, a truth, and a life, but everyone comes to the Father (or Mother, or whatever God or Goddess is to you) using the path of their own choosing. The Bible does talk about taking a path of our own choosing.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Women in Pointy Hats

The principal beneficiary will be the Roman Catholic Church, but Orthodoxy in Britian may also benefit from the decision made by the Church of England House of Bishops. The bishops have decided that it is time for the purported consecration of women to join their number. At the same time, they have left opponents out in the cold.

Heretofore, those in the C of E who have faithfully received the sacraments from men of God were cared for under the shepherding guidance of “flying bishops” – officially known as episcopal visitors – authorised to cross diocesan boundaries to care for parishes objecting to women priests. If the General Synod approves the legislation, flying bishops will be no more and all of the Church of England will be ruled by women. For many Anglicans, any pretense of valid orders and valid sacraments will be gone.

As far as I’m concerned the C of E can do what it wants to do. I’m not opposed to women priestesses or bishopettes. As far as I’m concerned, just like any other Protestants they don’t have valid sacraments, so it doesn’t matter what they do. Since this new development will push more people out of the C of E, perhaps I should even view it as a positive development.

Being rather ecumenical as I am toward Rome, I’m not bothered that most of them will swim the Tiber. I know that most western Christians find Orthodoxy a difficult fit – something that I think is probably as much to do with the non-essential cultural and liturgical aspects of Orthodoxy as anything – but Rome has valid sacraments despite some theological deficiencies. Some, due in part to lingering anti-papal attitudes, will cross the Bosphorus instead.

The huge number of clergy threatening to defect to Rome will boost the declining numbers in vocations there. Perhaps this will enlighten the Holy Father to the possibility of extending the Eastern Catholic practice of married priests to the West as a normality rather than a concession to certain converted clergy. Thus, if played right, the knock-on effect of the Anglican decision could be quite significant. I’d still call it a long shot, though.

Even if they are only Protestant clergy, I still can’t get over the cringe factor of seeing a woman pose as a priest in a black shirt and white collar. No doubt I will double cringe at a woman in a cope and mitre.

The Scandal of No Scandal

Peter Phillips is 11th in the line of succession to the British throne. He was on the verge of losing his place in less than three weeks. He was planning to marry a Roman Catholic. He could marry a Buddhist or a Muslim or even a Baptist and keep his place. It’s only Catholics that pose a problem.

He will now remain in the succession. He’s still getting married to the same person. His intended, Autumn Kelly, has conveniently converted to Anglicanism. She has been receiving instruction from the Dean of Windsor and was confirmed in the C of E. None of the news articles indicate which bishop confirmed her.

This has raised hackles on various sides of the argument. Reading the comments on the various online newspaper articles, some people are outraged that she would have to leave her faith for him to keep his place. Others ostracise her for giving in. Some think he is being selfish for making her leave the Catholic Church rather than giving up his place.

I really don’t see what all the kerfuffle is about. News articles all say they don’t know whether she was a practicing Catholic. If they would read their own articles they would realise that she wasn’t. She has been living with Peter for a long time without the benefit of marriage. They have a flat in London and a cottage in Gloucestershire.  They live in open fornication.

The question I have is why she was confimed in the Church of England in the midst of what should be scandal. Sadly, this says a lot about the C of E.

Happiest of Feasts

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
But when she saw
him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Today is one of the greatest Feasts of the Church. So great, in fact, that I don’t understand why Lent isn’t completely suspended for a day. This is the feast of the Incarnation. Sure it comes to fruition in the Nativity, but this is the day we celebrate that God came to Earth. Today we grapple with the mystery of kenosis. Today the very God of very God, the eternal and incomprehensible chooses the Virgin’s womb for a Temple wherein to dwell.

The incorporeal become corporeal. The Word becomes flesh to dwell among us.

In the midst of all the Easter TV programmes challenging all of the orthodoxies of the Faith, cries of critics and doubters, it is a good thing to rejoice. I also feel sad, because they cannot share the joy. They spend their time trying to dig up ways to prove that Jesus wasn’t really the Jesus of the Gospels. He must be anyone other than who He was, His life told to us by eyewitnesses and faithful transmitted to us by the Holy Evangelists and from them by our Holy Fathers who have gone before us. There must be conspiracies and power plays, intrigue and underhanded dealings. And all of it must be because they knew the story wasn’t true. It was made up much later. Tiresome and sad.

So let us rejoice in the love of God shown to us in the Incarnation. Let us rejoice in so great a salvation.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy
is His name.
And His mercy
is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered
the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from
their thrones,
And exalted
the lowly.
He has filled
the hungry with good things,
And
the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of
His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.

Terrorism in the East End

I may get regular verbal abuse and heckling in my own classroom for being a Christian, but at least I’m not a vicar getting attacked on the grounds of my own church. There is a constant campaign of vandalism against St George-in-the-East in Wapping. The attitude is typified by shouts of “This should not be a church, this should be a mosque.”

In addition to being yet another example of teen yobbish behaviour – an epidemic throughout this country – it is also a low-grade example of Islamic terrorism. Besides being just downright nasty, these pustules of society are using their faith as an excuse for causing harm and destruction. They have also been fed on a diet of ideas (whether a home or at the mosque or both) that they should be able to settle in an area and Islamify it, driving out the Church.

Limp BBC Jesus

The BBC has re-written the Gospel for a four-part miniseries called “The Passion”. It is to be shown in western Holy Week.

The Jesus of the BBC is so squishy and limp that even the liberal philosopher/theologian/columnist/Anglican vicar Giles Fraser thinks He’s nice but dull. “Following his BBC makeover Jesus is transformed into a sympathetic male nurse preaching the gospel of equal opportunities.”

No, there’s nothing there to offend anyone. This is the Jesus of Religious Education classes in most schools. He’s has lots of nice platitudes, but there’s no “Take up your cross and follow Me.” There’s no “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There’s no “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no part in Me.”

Judas in no longer a bad guy. Neither is Caiaphas. According to the series producer, “By such accounts as there are from the time, Caiaphas was reckoned to be a fair man and a good high priest. [He was] a man doing a very difficult job and doing it well.” So why would such a fair man plot to put such an inoffensive man to death?

Anglicans (and the Government) Want Sharia For Britain

The Archbishop of Canterbury believes that Islamic Sharia is not only more appropriate in some areas of the law, but that it is inevitable that it will be incorporated into British law. Rowan Williams says the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams said the idea that “there’s one law for everybody”under a single sovereign was “a bit of a danger”. A danger to whom? To those who opposed Sharia? He says that officially incorporating Sharia law would improve community relations. Now there’s accommodation.

But wait a minute. Dr Williams is a little behind the times. As I mentioned last week, ministers (without the consent of Parliament) have already legalised polygamy. This has been done specifically to accomodate Islamic law, which allows for up to four wives. So if they are going to allow for Sharia marriage, why not Sharia divorce?

Thus, Gordon Brown’s response to Dr Williams that he “believes that British laws should be based on British values” is not paticularly credible. Rather he’s saying what non-Muslim voters want to hear, while doing what Muslims want him to do.

UPDATE: A lady in the Question Time audience raised the same point about the legalised polygamy, and the Cabinet Minister on the panel was unaware of this and had not even read newspaper reports. It was the Opposition shadow minister who was aware that this additional benefits arrangement for husbands with more than one wife was a coordinated effort between four Government departments – departments represented at the Cabinet table.

Missing the Point of Lent

I sat down to write something else, but I checked my email and an saw one of the most ridiculous things in the history of Christianity. I say that realising that there have been some pretty ridiculous things.

The Anglican bishops of Liverpool and London have decided that it is not enough to give up chocolate for Lent. That Anglicans give up chocolate for Lent should tell you something about how far they’ve drifted from Holy Tradition, but I suppose they’re a step better than those who have given up Lent altogether. So maybe you are thinking the good bishops are moving in a positive direction. Wrong.

The Rt Revs James Jones and Richard Chartres want us to give up carbon. Not all carbon, mind you, given that we are carbon-based life-forms. And not actually the eating of carbon – or anything else for that matter. No, it’s much more convoluted than that. They want us to give up a light bulb. Here’s how it works: Light bulbs require electricty; electricity has to be produced; producing eletricity result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; Al Gore says that’s bad.

Put differently, the Bishop of Liverpool’s logic is this, “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.” The poor are suffering the effect of climate change? Seems to me the warmer weather makes it easier to sleep rough. People in substandard housing with poor insulation are paying less for heating. How are the poor suffering?

I’m not particular good at doing Lent (which for Orthodox Christians doesn’t start until March 10), but I won’t be using it for making a political statement based upon specious science. I hope you won’t either.

The Mark of the Motion

I haven’t been looking around the blogosphere, so everyone may be talking about it. The wife sent this news article to me, which I’ve included in full. Does this mean the Church of England is the Antichrist, or rather that Parliament (or those proposing the motion) are?

Since the Antichrist or the Beast is supposed to deceive the whole world, I’m not putting my money on either one. After, very few people are likely follow the C of E anywhere, since even most Anglicans world-wide don’t. And given the rise of the executive power of the Government in this country, combined with the supremacy of European law, the sovereignty of Parliament means less and less.

AFP – Thursday, January 10 12:57 pm

LONDON (AFP) – Eyebrows were raised in the House of Commons on Thursday when a motion calling for the Church of England to be disestablished was listed with the number 666, symbol of the AntiChrist.”This number is supposed to be the mark of the Devil. It looks as though God or the Devil have been moving in mysterious ways,” said Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat MP among those proposing the motion for debate.”What is even stranger is that this motion was tabled last night when MPs were debating blasphemy,” he added.

The motion calls for an end to the formal link between Church and State in England — embodied in the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is both head of state and head of the Church of England.

The number 666 is referred to in the Book of Revelations in the Bible: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred, three score and six.””It is is incredible that a motion like this should have, by chance, acquired this significant number,” said Russell.

Under the rules of the House of Commons the motion by backbenchers has little chance of actually being debated in parliament.

Alternative Profession of Faith

It started with the Archbishop of Canterbury dismissing the story of the Wise Men as legend. Fortunately, upon closer inspection he agrees with Matthew’s Gospel that “they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that’s all we’re really told.” It the bits about there being three of them or being kings that he says are legend. Actually, I don’t even think those things rate as legend.

But as Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times,

Although he believed in it himself, he advised that new Christians need not fear that they had to leap over the “hurdle” of belief in the Virgin Birth before they could be “signed up”.

So we know where Rowan Williams stands on the essentials of the faith.

Since baptism is how you get “signed up”, I thought Williams couldn’t be correct, as I recalled you have to profess the Apostle’s Creed during the baptismal liturgy in the C of E. Not any more. There’s a “Alternative Profession of Faith”. I’m sure it’s been there for quite some time. When it comes to Jesus, all you do is listen to the question, ” Do you believe and trust in God the Son, who took our human nature, died for us and rose again?” then answer “I believe and trust in him.” No need to believe in His Lordship, His conception by the Holy Spirit, His virgin birth, his suffering, His Ascension, His present mediation at the right hand of thr Father, His Second Coming, or Final Judgment.

This raises one tiny question. Is the Church of England a Christian church?  I’m not saying it isn’t – just asking the question. Can it make certain fundamentals of the faith optional?