Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

(Guardian Editorial): The New Archbishop of Canterbury


Archbishop of Canterbury: good and God

Last week, we had a new popeand, this week, a new archbishop of Canterbury. What makes this more than an unprecedented coincidence is that, so far, they appear to be echoing one another
Last week, we had a new pope and, this week, a new archbishop of Canterbury. What makes this more than an unprecedented coincidence is that, so far, they appear to be echoing one another. Their message may be doctrinally conservative but it has the potential to be socially radical: both of the new leaders of the two biggest Christian communities in the world are deeply preoccupied with poverty and injustice. And although neither of them would allow that the secular world has the answer, their moral presence has the power to influence those of us who believe it should.

At first sight, the old-Etonian primate of England's state religion shares little beyond his Christian faith with the Argentinian son of working-class Italian emigrants who now leads the Catholic church. But both the archbishop and Pope Francis inherit organisations struggling with the decline of faith, dwindling congregations and contentious issues of gender and sexuality. Both have to find a way to bridge the gap between the authority of the scriptures that they honour and the lives that ordinary Christians live, and to accommodate the sometimes divergent concerns of Christians in Europe and America and those in Africa and Asia. Neither could possibly be described as either weak or unprincipled, yet each is committed to a reconciliation that many conservatives (and liberals) would reject for the concessions necessarily entailed.

Justin Welby's return-of-post response to Peter Tatchell's "thoughtful" and "powerful" open letter challenging Anglicanism's homophobia, with its swift invitation to a meeting, is a welcome departure. But it is not a sudden conversion to the right to same-sex marriage nor an end to the Anglican rejection of gay priests. This is an archbishop with a background in the evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton movement, Anglicanism's Notting Hill set: good on social action, unflinching in belief and – to its critics – questionable in its methods. Think Nixon in China, not Chamberlain in Munich. But it may work. With a woman archdeacon at his side during his installation, opponents of women bishops can expect to be loved into acquiescence before the key meeting next December; gay campaigners will be less reassured by his conflicted recognition of both the strength of same-sex relationships and a narrow Christian definition of marriage.

In his first sermon, the archbishop left the impression of a cold-shower man rather than a warm-bath one. His is a muscular, unapologetic faith, but he has a long record of going to difficult places to bring people together. And you can disagree profoundly with his argument that it is impossible to live a good life without God, while hoping that his concern for a public ethic and individual morality will be a powerful influence on secular society.

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