First the effrontery: today’s editorial, densely covered with the foam falling out of the mouth of its rabid author, is titled Mere Christianity.
This title is shamelessly stolen from the book by the great writer, and even greater Christian, C.S. Lewis. His Mere Christianity is one of the most cogent works of Christian apologetics, sitting side by side with Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. By a sleight of hand, The Times is now nudge-winking us into somehow believing that its effluvia on women bishops has something to do with the views of that most orthodox of Christians.
Here’s what he actually wrote – not about the consecration of women bishops but about the arguably lesser affront of female ordination:
‘I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priests’ Orders. I am, indeed, informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities. To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other Churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence. And the Church of England herself would be torn in shreds by the operation.’
The title of the emetic editorial thus represents cynical effrontery. But then one considers the source and realises that nothing else is to be expected.
Now the ignorance: ‘The Church of England has acted like a sect and perpetrated a disservice to the nation and other faiths.’ These hacks are either insufficiently rigorous in their thinking or too vicious in their atheism to understand that it’s their pet measure that’s bound to turn the Anglican Church not just into a sect, but a secular one at that.
Disservice to other faiths? The only faith ever so slightly set back by the Synod’s ruling is atheist progressivism. If the authors of this obscenity had ever attended an Anglican service they would know that Christians recite the Nicene Creed, asserting their faith in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Taking their lead from C.S. Lewis, they know that Anglicanism’s claim to being part of such a church is disputed by other, indisputably catholic and apostolic confessions: Roman and Greek. Their members claim that the severing of the English Church’s links with Rome in the sixteenth century broke the apostolic succession. Therefore, according to them, all Anglican priests, regardless of their sex, are improperly ordained. That’s why, for example, no Roman Catholic would go to communion in an Anglican church, whereas Anglicans have no such compunction in Catholic churches.
Anglicans, especially those of the Anglo-Catholic persuasion, argue against this exclusion, as they would. The theological arcana involved in their case are too recondite to ponder here in any detail. But the ecclesial argument is simple enough: the Anglican Church has retained the hierarchical structure of the other catholic confessions and has largely kept the catholic liturgy, mutatis mutandis.
The critical consideration that escapes the feeble grasp of The Times is that female consecration will mean that the Anglican argument, such as it is, will be instantly and irrevocably lost. The Church would have no right to claim that it is either one or catholic or apostolic. Consequently, before long it won’t even be able to claim it’s holy.
Like a thief who runs in front of a pursuing crowd yelling ‘Stop thief!’ louder than anyone else, The Times hacks are accusing true Christians of perpetrating exactly the crime they themselves commit in every venomous word. Should women be consecrated as bishops, the Anglo-Catholics will immediately go Roman or else take the Pope up on his generous offer of the ordinariate. Many evangelicals will likewise leave for various Protestant confessions. The Church will become not so much apostolic as apostatic.
What will be left of the Anglican Church is a cowed, browbeaten aggregate of apostates happy to break up with the past, with true Christianity and indeed with true Anglicanism. Instead they’ll be prepared to accept the diktats of the church-hating atheists who run our political parties.
‘Bishops are not always direct in their public comments,’ mouths off the editorial. ‘Like their chess counterparts, they have a tendency to move in zigzags.’ Chess bishops, chaps, don’t move in zigzags – they move in straight diagonal lines. It’s reassuring to see that these hacks’ ignorance extends even into such trivial areas.
I for one am sorry to see the paper that once was the envy of the world turning into its laughing stock. A sign of the times, I dare say.
P.S. Yesterday I predicted that within weeks the defeated proposal will be revived, like the phoenix of the Lisbon treaty rising from the ashes of the EU Constitution. I was wrong: it has taken not weeks or hours. ‘Bishop Welby,’ hectors the editorial, should press for the proposal… to be brought back quickly.’
Even more ominously, Frank Field, MP, wishes to introduce, and his fellow member of the Labour Party Dave Cameron supports, a bill obligating the Church to comply with the secular law against sex discrimination. If passed, such a law will open the door for the Church being forced to sanctify homomarriage, much to the delight of Matthew Parris in the same issue of The Times. Nothing divisive about that, of course, but I do wish Parris had the good taste to feign impartiality.