Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Church of England Precariously Hangs On....

...to some resemblance to historic, orthodox Christianity, and rejects the ordination of female bishops.

It's the laity wot won it (or at least, stopped it), since the clergy were overwhelmingly in favour. (The general synod of the Church of England has a tricameral system, with one of the three houses being a House of Laity. I didn't know that until tonight.) Presumably this last-ditch stand against theological revisionism will gain only another five year's grace, when the issue will be put to another vote and pushed through.

Then, hopefully, those who have lost all faith in the Church of England will follow in the footsteps of Newman, Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Ann Widdecombe and so many others.

If I seem to strike a note of Schadenfreude, it's really not intended. I am both an Anglophile and, in many ways, an admirer of the Church of England-- the Church of John Betjeman, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and T.S. Eliot. Not to mention the millions of ordinary folk, down the centuries, who truly believed that they remained within the Church established by Christ.

I fall back on C.S. Lewis himself, who wrote an essay called Priestesses in the Church? in 1948.

"We begin to feel that what really divides us from our opponents is a difference between the meaning which they and we give to the word 'priest'. The more they speak (and speak truly) about the competence of women in administration, their tact and sympathy as advisers, their natural talent for 'visiting', the more we feel that the central thing is being forgotten....The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests. If it is true, then we would expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and believers will call suprarational...If we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion."

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