Last year Cost of Conscience, the traditionalist think-tank, commissioned the leading religious research body, Christian Research, to conduct a wide-ranging survey of the Church of England. That survey, `The Mind of Anglicans’, independently conducted and reported, received such an astonishingly high response across-the-board, clergy/laity, urban/rural, male/female, liberal/evangelical/catholic, that it was rapidly acknowledged as an extraordinarily accurate representative picture of the Church of England. Its findings on the beliefs, or lack of them, among the clergy ensured a series of features, articles, TV and radio debates and phone-ins over five weeks last summer.
Among the many things the survey revealed was the existence of two utterly distinct churches both operating under the franchise of the Church of England. While Evangelicals and traditionalist Catholics were rock solid on doctrine and ethics, liberals and modernizers of every hue could rarely muster a majority of their members with confidence in any orthodox Christian teaching or credal affirmation. Though this would have come as little surprise to regular readers of New Directions, the survey has shown itself to be both accurate and prophetic. For it is along these massive fault lines, exposed by the survey, that the recent seismic upheavals within the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican family have shaken and stretched to breaking point the bonds of the Communion.
Over the last few months many of our readers have asked if it is possible to have a handy summary of the key findings of this ground-breaking report. Thanks to the generosity of Cost of Conscience and the hard work of the staff at Christian Research, New Directions is delighted to be able to place just such a guide in the hands of its readers.
Believe it or not! reveals not only the nature of the crisis, but also starkly exposes the interlocking nature of the liberal agenda. Traditionalists who are tired of being caricatured as backward looking misogynists should carry their copy around with them. It will quickly illustrate to any doubters that this has always been a battle for orthodoxy and that while orthodoxy is a seamless garment, heterodoxy has its own consistent and destructive logic.
NEW DIRECTIONS is 10 years old. Earlier this year we passed the exact anniversary and this magazine sees us reach our 100th edition in the present format. We are especially delighted to welcome as a guest writer this month the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although the orthodox constituency and Dr Williams continue to have areas of profound disagreement, there has always been a strong mutual respect and an undoubted fund of personal goodwill towards the Archbishop. The Editor has invited Dr Williams to take this opportunity to speak to our people, through these columns, and he has graciously consented. The central issue confronting our people continues to be what future, if any, orthodox believers have in the Church of England. The Archbishop was asked to address this issue frankly.
How will unity survive the consecration of women bishops and, more pressing now, the events in New Hampshire? Is a new province a possible solution? We understand that Archbishop Rowan cannot be prescriptive but appreciate his time and thoughtfulness in addressing our concerns and questions. We hope that this will be the beginning of a fruitful dialogue that will lead to a speedy settlement to the lasting benefit of the Gospel and the re-conversion of England.
Impending schism and the threat of schism are the stock in trade of press reports about the Anglican Communion in the Western media. The time has come to call a halt. The Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the Primates of the Communion to London in an attempt to resolve the latest crisis over the election and confirmation of Gene Robinson. But what can the Primates do? No rational person could for a moment suppose that the liberal agenda in North America has yet run its course, or that those advancing it would for a moment heed the pleas of the Primates to desist.
The time has come for radical action which will frankly acknowledge the damage already effected by the unilateral actions of liberals, and create a firewall between them and their opponents. Only a free and independent province of the Communion can provide the dignity, security and continuity which classical Anglicans need and deserve. To the creation of such a polity the Primates must now turn their minds.
Such a province, using for the defence of orthodoxy the very independence in doctrine and morals arrogated to themselves by the revisionist liberals, is the only way to test the tolerance and good will of those who proclaim their intention to be `inclusive’. If the liberals now resist such a move, their motives will be clear to all. It will be seen that they are not committed to a theology of `inclusion’, but to a fight to the death over real estate.
An orthodox bishop appointed to an orthodox diocese. What may once have been the norm is now newsworthy; and it was news greeted with enormous relief from parishes across the country. Our warmest congratulations to Nicholas Reade, and our best wishes and prayers to him and his wife Christine, as they prepare for their new life in B Blackburn Diocese. Each orthodox bishop is a most necessary shepherd, when wolves prowl around the flock. Appointed in the midst of the Robinson crisis, he will be consecrated in time for the Nazir-Ali Report: the future Bishop Reade will need great strength and courage and our continuing prayers.
The appointment of the Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings to a diocesan post, without having to jump a first hurdle as a suffragan, is especially good news. For those who make such appointments, it is a lesson worth learning: if you can get it right once, you can get it right again.