Monday, 7 March 2011

Shifting Churches

A week ago I was at Great Hucklow discussing the condition of Scottish Christianity with Rev. Bob of Dundee. He was saying about the collapse in Roman Catholic observance and the decine in the Church of Scotland. I mentioned the URC going into Scotland and taking over small denominations as a means of self-preservation, and it includes Congregationalists of which Rev. Bob was once a part.

Now we hear that whether it does or does not accept gay ministers, the Church of Scotland could be heading for a minor schism.

Basically, if it does accept them, nearly one in five Kirk Session members (ministers, elders, deacons and important parishioners) could walk out, whereas if it is not to accept them some one in ten of the Kirk could leave.

Also one in ten agreed that homosexual orientation is a disorder, behaviour sinful and as well as avoiding relationships gay people ideally ought to seek to be rid of homosexual desires. But then one in five thought gay folk should be considered for leadership roles just like anyone else (which sounds better until you think, 'What, just one in five?')

There was a ballot related to a secetive 50-page Special Commission on Same Sex Relationships has set the Church on a collision course for the greatest schism in the 451 years since the Reformation.

There is this chap in Aberdeen who is gay, Rev. Scott Rennie. He is the Kirk's first minister in a same-sex relationship but he could be left isolated. He's safe, whatever happens, because he won't be removed even if others cannot join him.

There is a Kirk General Assembly in May and even if gay relationship people are ordained then they'll still pause for two years for another report for 2013, this to consider whether others can opt out of ordaining these folk.

It doesn't help being divided when you are declining anyway. Now the Roman Catholics have tackled decline not by acquisition but by poaching...

A Roman Catholic bishop Auxilliary Bishop Peter Elliott of Melbourne has declared that classical Anglo-Catholicism is dead, writing in The Record: the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth (February 26). All such Anglo-Catholics should cross over to Rome (like he did) and join the ordinariate. To do anything else is a waste of time and spiritual energy and leads nowhere, he reckons.

He stated that the 'Vicar of Christ' has made his apostolic offer and that it was without ulterior motives and of no deception.

So there you go. No ulterior motives, as well. What is truer, perhaps, is that Anglo-Catholicism has had its back broken by the Pope's action, but there are still forms of it existing, most notably the Affirming Catholic position which some think is a front for liberalism with the added insurance of dressing up and ritual play. It is just a bit too risky being an Affirming Liberal, which does not affirm liberalism as such but residual doctrines and ends up being a bit thin and naked.

There are other Catholics too, like the Puseyites of old who rather would not go Roman, but then they rather hobnobbed with the Romanesque. They rather have nowhere to go now and are a rump of Catholic Traditionalism inside Anglicanism, mainly in the Church of England.

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