Queen sends 'supportive' letters to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
At least to the extent to which she is able within the confines of her constitutional limitations. She sent a letter of support to the group, or at least a letter which the organisers were able to interpret as support, and that is sufficient. She told the group, which was formed in response to the ‘liberal’ direction of some sections of the Anglican Communion, that she ‘understood their concerns’.
It is comforting to be understood, especially by one’s monarch.
For some reason, The Daily Telegraph terms the FCA as a ‘controversial church movement’.
For defending orthodox Anglicanism? For maintaining the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? For being faithful to the teaching of Scripture and church tradition? For confronting sexual immorality? For refusing to bow to the idols of relativism, secularism and human rights?
It appears that to be a non-conformist is to be controversial; to confront the spirit of the age is unacceptable; to question the values of the world is insupportable.
For the Christian, thus it ever was.
The moment one chooses to put away the old man and clothe oneself in the new – the incomparable Jesus – there will be a new way of thinking, a new way of doing, a new way believing and renewing. And we were promised the world would not like it.
But what is this alliance between the Evangelical and the Anglo-Catholic?
It appears to be based upon two connected beliefs – that homosexuality is a sin of which one must repent, and that marriage is heterosexual.
Considering their far greater and infinitely more significant theological differences, it is a curiously insecure foundation. Indeed, one might even call it a 'trend'.
The Bishop of Rochester Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has said: “We want to hold on to the traditional teaching of the Church. We don’t want to be rolled over by culture and trends in the Church.”
While the Evangelicals may accord wholeheartedly with this, there will be one or two Anglo-Catholics who are aware that they are in a church which was forged by ‘rolling over to culture’; it had its genesis in a ‘trend’, and continues to be influenced by one or two.
Yet it is a moot question the extent to which one should be counter-cultural and discern which trends are to be rejected and which absorbed. If one gives way to feminism and ordains female priests, how can one sustain the injustice of an all-male episcopate? And if the church has ‘rolled over’ to this ‘trend’, why not do so for the homo-feminist movement? Laws on abortion, obscenity, blasphemy, marriage and divorce have all correlated with a set of cultural, political and social trends that have seen religion pushed from the public sphere to that of the private.
The ‘gay rights’ campaigner Peter Tatchell has again declaimed from the rooftops that the Church of England is discriminatory. He said: “Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society. I call on the Bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ’s gospel of love and compassion.”
One rather wishes someone would tell Peter Tatchell to walk into his local mosque and take his argument to some of those who might be as persuaded and as convicted of their views as he is of his. Or does he pick on the Church of England because of its accommodation?
And one also wishes, indeed prays for Anglicans to rediscover their foundations – which lie in the theology of Richard Hooker just as much as they do the works of His Grace. There is a reasonableness, tolerance and inclusivity in Hooker’s theology which mediated effectively between the Puritans and the High Church adherents in an age of intolerance and unreason. He stood on the shoulders of Aquinas when he wrote his Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, in which he argued that reason and tradition are important when interpreting Scripture, and that it is important to understand that the Bible is contextual – it was written in a particular historical context and in response to specific situations: ‘So our own words also when we extol the complete sufficiency of the whole entire body of the scripture, must in like sort be understood with this caution, that the benefit of nature's light be not thought excluded as unnecessary, because the necessity of a diviner light is magnified’ (Book I:14:4). And later: ‘Words must be taken according to the matter whereof they are uttered’ (Book IV.11.7).
He practised form criticism before the term was invented. He pointed the Church of England in its via media direction which became its foundation.
And if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?