Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Entryism: and how the 'Closeted' Depend on the 'Revisionists'

I have been criticised recently for being unfair. This is on the matter of entryism, because the claim is made that orthodox congregations broadly speaking will be supported by a new trust fund set up in the Southwark diocese. Being orthodox means, in this context, supporting the Jerusalem Statement that GAFCON produced a few years ago, and GAFCON sees this as a rather open, non-partisan, statement of affirmed orthodoxy.

Well, having a Jerusalem Statement is not itself entryism. You can have all sorts of statements you like and claim them as orthodox, super-orthodox, heterodox, and indeed you can campaign for them. The oft-claimed weakness of the Church of England is its party structure and thus different schools of understanding with a heavy pressure group follow-though. It even affects parishes, indeed it does. This is not entryist either.

What is entryist is the method. The Jerusalem Statement began, not as a series of workshops at the Jerusalem Gathering, of GAFCON 1 as it will become, but as a statement more or less made in a leadership session and approved by the gathering. The same leadership also created the Primates' Council of its own sympathisers, and its own Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

Here is the point. The Conservative Evangelical element of the Western Anglican Churches is really quite small. To make an impact they have to find those other evangelicals who are close and get them to join in with their strategy, but never to lose control of the strategy among the few. They then get to an edge where others also follow their strategic statements and methods, and siphon off those who don't in order to get at a defined enemy.

Some evangelicals take a view that the Church of England provides sufficient statements by which to be evangelical. So the strategy by the entryists against them is to accuse them of being 'institutional' and that institutional unity is being preferred to one based on belief. Clever, but it is unfair to those who say that there are already belief statements. That strategy marginalises, siphons off, other evangelicals. The real opposition are those who are called 'revisionist' - and let's see how many evangelicals are included as revisionist.

Take a liberal who subscribes to the creeds and thrust of historical formularies. What if such a liberal also says that he or she agrees with the Jerusalem Statement in the same manner? Do we think that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will say, 'That's all right then.'? Of course not: those in receipt of moneys are those who are of prior approval from the insider decision makers. It is a club mentality among the knowing.

What makes it all entryist is the use of money and institutional methodology. So you set up a fund that is under close control and it decides who gets support. Revisionsists, so identified, are excluded, and so will be many institutional unifiers with revisionists. Empty churches discovered are then fed with FCA money, approved ministers, and no doubt a laity plant from a congregation, to get them going again but under the approved doctrines. So monies that would have gone through the official channels now go through channels of a particular group. The group also has set up alternative episcopal oversight, so that places out of step with an 'institutional' or 'revisionist' diocesan bishop, other clergy and staff can have alternative oversight without official permission.

It is about the winkling into a host body the intents and purposes of a smaller body, one that gains financial support both internally and from outside backers. The entryist is thus parasitical on the larger body, from the perspective of the larger body.

Being entryist doesn't mean you are outsiders trying to come in, but that you are inside and trying via control systems to spread yourself further.

The alternative with your own funds and bishops etc. is to set up your own Church. Maybe this will be forced upon you, if the host body so ejects you. But the entryist doesn't, because it fancies the reach that the host body already possesses in terms of the society and culture at large. It wants to get hold of the existing plant and equipment. It's loyalty to the existing body is thus because it wants that for itself.

So let's be clear about that.

And then what about the oh so orthodox existing means and channels of authority that keeps its very heterodox behaviours hidden so that it retains approval of existing systems? I think we call that the closet. That is an affront to truth, because it is pure deception. Sometimes, in a changing situation towards openness, decpetion can be tolerated because it is temporary. But when that deception happens at a time of enforcement, when someone who is open and honest takes the consequences not of the behaviours (or potential behaviours) but of being honest, then the institution is becoming rotten.

However, don't think that the current entryists are tolerant of shop-window deception. Just as they 'know' who are the closet liberals, and will exclude them, so they will come for those of authority who are well within the closet. Those in the gay closet are only useful for a time in presenting a united heterosexual or nothing front, because eventually when one campaign against liberality is being made successful so they will come for those known to be in the closet. Entryists always need enemies. The enemy is route-progression for the entryist, burrowing its way through the host body and replacing with its own people.

Bizarrely, it is the 'revisionists' and the liberals who let the closeted get away with it. They create the degrees of tolerance, and not least the ethic of individualism, that allows the closeted in authority to get away with being hidden themselves and to present a contrary face. To some extent, liberal credalists and those in the closet are doing the same thing - presenting a front that isn't quite what they believe and do. That's why, should the revisionists be winkled out by entryists, the closeted will have nowhere to hide.

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