Monday, 6 December 2010

The Tactical Abstainer

So now we know. The Covenant vote abstainer among the bishops was not John Saxbee, but that liberalising open evangelical James Jones. Let me offer a cynical explanation, which may be utterly wrong.

When the Covenant policy and all that fails, for one reason or another, the current Archbishop of Canterbury will fall on his sword. The weightings of the various Church of England parties are that the liberals will be on the naughty step (I may as well employ the concept again), and the sort of Anglo-Catholicism behind the Covenant concept will have weakened with its demise. This leaves the Open Evangelicals, but many of them are unacceptable to a number of others and they have doted over this Archbishop.

However, step forward James Jones from that camp, who has yet shown recent plasticity in his thinking (more gay friendly, or at least prepared to listen) and no longer so firmly in the Open Evangelical party, and now by his abstention has put a little distance between him and the rest.

I remember James Jones as the suffragan Bishop of Hull, a sort of first step but backwater from which to get out as rapidly as possible. People agreed chatting that here was a person of ambition, and indeed Liverpool has been a place to make a splash. So watch out for James Jones, middling evangelical, fresh face and potentially different policies (after a lot of stagnation), for the top job.

1 comment:

Suem said...

I would have thought it more likely he's burned his boats here. If someone like Jones were now mooted for ABC, I think there would be such an almighty backlash from conservatives. There is going to be an almighty fight anyhow when Rowan steps down.

We don't know how things will pan out over the next few years, of course, but I think Jones would be taking one hell of a gamble if he saw this as a promotion opportunity.