Photo by Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Traditional teaching is now a safeguarding issue

Is there no place for me in the Church of England?

Artillery Row

I suggest that the Most Reverend Justin Welby seems more than a little confused. “I rejoice,” he says, in “the diversity of views in the Church of England on questions of sexuality, relationships and marriage.” He may have endorsed the woke shibboleth of diversity, but the low rumble he could feel as he penned those words in his cosy Lambeth Palace office was the spinning of his rather more illustrious predecessor on the throne of St Augustine, one Thomas Cranmer. It was not for nothing that Cranmer gave the English church the Book of Common Prayer. It was not for nothing that Cranmer went to the stake, to die for his beliefs. Then again I doubt if Mr Welby would go to the stake for anything. Common Prayer, your Grace, Common.

Gender identity ideology looks very much like Gnosticism

The news that the bishops of the Church of England have agreed to suggest that clergy up and down the land will be able publicly to bless same-sex marriages in their churches, but not to solemnise those marriages, is what prompted the Archbishop to rejoice in diversity. It is the classic Anglican fudge, but on this occasion not even “good in parts”, unlike the proverbial curate’s egg. The proposals will go too far for many, not least large swathes of the Anglican Communion beyond these shores and most of our ecumenical partners within them. They will not go nearly far enough for those clamouring for change. Nor will they bring a period of settled calm — both sides will keep fighting, one even more desperate than before, the other pressing on to total victory. This is not a diversity which can be sustained.

It is already the kind of diversity endorsed by the “LGBTQI+ people” who are to receive an apology from the Church. I’m not a great fan of corporate apologies, which reek of belief in “systemic this and “systemic that and the sins of the fathers having something to do with the children. If it were an apology to gay and lesbian people, I might be content enough. There have certainly been failings there, although Church of England bishops in the House of Lords and elsewhere were instrumental in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. 

The trouble is that both archbishops have accepted the idea that diversity precludes asking difficult theological questions. They evidently include T, Q, I and more. Yet both T and Q in that list include some beliefs which are very much at variance with classical Biblical and theological Christian understandings. Most (but not all) of T is involved in believing that there is such a thing as “gender identity” — a sort of gendered soul, which takes priority over the sex we each have. In its disregard for the body, gender identity ideology looks very much like Gnosticism, the most ancient of heresies. Of course, children’s bodies suffer most. Shades of Moloch worship, I fear. But diversity, see?

I wonder what Jesus ‘Be ye holy’ Christ would think

The Q reflects Queer Theory, a total rejection of all norms and standards, all boundaries, all notions of moral right or wrong, in sexual as in all other ethical fields. How very diverse. I wonder what Jesus “Be ye holy” Christ would think of it. Wheat and tares, Mr Welby? Sheep and goats?

One could go on — “I” for intersex applies to about one in 40,000 people, who generally despise their very real needs being subverted into the “sex is a spectrum” propaganda of the TQ. Will you apologise for joining in with that, Your Grace? The “+” apparently includes Asexuals — people who are just not interested in having sex at all. Doubtless someone will be able to explain how the Church has oppressed them down through the centuries. It would be exceedingly tedious to go through the whole list — which is why “+” is so handy.

In all this diversity, there is one group I particularly fear for — those who, like me, think that the Church’s long standing teaching is good and ought to be taught. That it is the source of wellbeing in this life and the next. Those who recognize how hard we can all find reconciling fallen human nature with our Lord’s teaching, but who nevertheless turn to Jesus, who has the words of eternal life (John 6.68). Are we welcome in your rejoicing over diversity, Your Grace?

It doesn’t feel like it. When the story became public that I had been reported to Prevent for preaching that my congregation could accept the Church’s own teaching on marriage, you hid behind “no comment”. For some three years, the Derby Diocesan Safeguarding Team has treated me as a threat, too dangerous to be allowed to preach in any church — simply because I accept the Church’s teaching. The Bishop of Derby did not support me — she endorsed its judgement. When you had the chance to intervene, you waved it away. Not a hint of, “Oh, come on, that’s just standard stuff.” No sign of rejoicing in my views, the Church’s views, the views you promised to protect at your consecration. 

This all happened before the Church of England’s teaching opened up to “diversity”. If I am a safeguarding risk under the current regime, what hope for anyone in the brave new Church of diversity? In the new age of celebrating and affirming same-sex relationships, what place for those who say, “I’ve read my Bible on this, and it’s pretty clear”? Or perhaps, “The Holy Spirit has guided the universal Church on this unequivocally for two thousand years, and the Spirit cannot lie.” I said that people may uphold the Church’s traditional teaching, and I have been cast out. What chance is there for someone who wants, from time to time, to say from the pulpit, “This is a salvation matter; it touches on everything it means to be male and female in the image and likeness of God; repent and believe the Good News.” What will you allow to be done to traditional believers? What cause will they have to rejoice? Those who just don’t fit anymore, who aren’t sufficiently “diverse”? 

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover