As that great adman Bill Bernbach once said, “a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you something.” If this is an ironclad definition, then Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, satisfies it in spades.
His staunch adherence to principles has indeed cost him something: the Church of England is no longer recognised as the mother church of the Anglican communion. A statement to this effect was released by the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans (GFSA), an organisation representing some 75 per cent of the world’s 120 million Anglicans.
The problem is that the principles to which His Grace adheres staunchly have nothing to do with Christianity. Quite the opposite, they make mockery of Christian doctrine.
Under his tutelage, the old definition of the C of E should be revised from “the Tory Party at prayer” to “The Guardian editorial board cum social services, and never mind the prayer”.
His Grace, along with most other bishops, has never seen a secular woke fad he couldn’t love, nay worship. The one especially dear to his heart is the agony of homosexual couples who can’t have their marriage officiated in an Anglican church.
Not on my watch, declared His Grace, that ecclesiastical answer to Dave Cameron. He then tried to build a consensus to push homomarriage through the Synod, but fell just short.
However, his ally Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London [!] brought a modified motion that passed. If the church still can’t officiate homomarriages, at least it can now bless them.
The logic of it escapes me, or rather it would if I still thought the C of E hierarchy had any interest in Christian doctrine. Since it manifestly doesn’t, it chooses to ignore the fact that said doctrine unequivocally regards homosexuality as a sin – not the worst one, but a sin nonetheless.
And, as a matter of general principle, a church shouldn’t be in the business of blessing sin. Its core remit is to damn or perhaps propitiate sins, not bless them.
So no matter how painfully His Grace’s loins ache for woke rectitude, the motion – and notion – that he championed shouldn’t even have crossed his mind. If it did, he isn’t fit for the job. And if the C of E insists he is, then it’s not fit to lead the Anglican communion.
That irrefutable chain of thought came naturally to GFSA (and other orthodox) bishops, who mostly represent Anglicans in the low-rent parts of the world. Those unsophisticated people still take Christianity and its doctrine seriously, for old times’ sake.
They, along with Pascal, believe in “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars…” – and certainly not of the louche denizens of Notting Hill, Hampstead and Islington, Welby’s real parish.
On Monday, these Christian throwbacks accused the Church of England of “taking the path of false teaching” and going against “the historical biblical faith”. “This breaks our hearts,” they added.
I’m sure it breaks Welby’s heart too, but only because he can see a redundancy notice flashing before his mind’s eye. That would be richly deserved: his ideological wokery has succeeded in the unlikely feat of creating a major schism in the world’s third largest Christian communion – the first ever such cataclysm within it.
Formed in 1867, the Anglican communion was a vital extension of England’s cultural proselytism in the Empire. You know, that awful setup that, if you believe popular mythology, did nothing but exploit and abuse British colonies and dependencies.
If you believe historical facts, however, then you’ll know that whatever exploitation existed was offset by the spread of civilised institutions: political, legal, administrative, medical, educational — and religious. Modelled on their English antecedents, those institutions survived the fall of the British Empire and are still shaping life in most of its fragments.
Britishness has proved to be more resilient than the British Empire, and it remains the glue holding the Commonwealth together, quite apart from the more fragile political ties. Hence Welby’s doctrinal subversion can have far-reaching ramifications that go even beyond matters ecclesiastical.
Even in its native habitat, the C of E is haemorrhaging communicants, all in the name of inclusion. I have news for its hierarchs: the Guardian types aren’t going to flock to the altar no matter what, however egregiously the church perverts doctrine. But real Christians will be leaving even faster. Inclusion is the new exclusion.
I don’t know how Anglicans manage to contain the emetic impulse when watching all those freshly minted female bishops in action. Ever since they were first consecrated in 2015, in direct contravention of church tradition and theology, those ladies have been mostly devoting their boundless energy to debates about the personal pronouns befitting God.
Since ‘He’ is clearly out for being symbolic of male oppression, the options under review must include ‘she’, ‘it’, ‘they’ and possibly ‘ze’. As the temperature of that debate rises, I am amazed it has taken real believers among the Anglicans so long to disavow the Church of England and Welby personally.
Theirs aren’t the splinter churches – they didn’t split away from anything. It’s the C of E that has split away from them, and the rift is growing wider by the minute. Is the Archbishop actually Christian? I rather doubt that.