Adam Tilgate: Okay, once again welcome to the Radio Chadderbox religion slot, and I am still under the watchful eye of one of our radio presenting professionals but using me for my theology and Church expertise, apparently.
Peter Levite: Try and say okay less often.
Adam Tilgate: Okay.
Peter Levite: Go on then: introduce the panel. Next to you is a smiling lady, more smiling than even Rachel Marsovenus today.
Adam Tilgate: Okay, oh sorry. Well okay. I think I get nervous. Well I do with my guest alongside me, Lesley Bloke here again.
Peter Levite: You seem to be here a lot, Lesley Bloke, yes or no?
Lesley Bloke: Yes, but I'd rather not say why at present.
Peter Levite: Well that's a bit cagey given your blog I was reading, which seems to spill everything out. Spill the beans.
Lesley Bloke: I thought Adam was doing this programme.
Peter Levite: Well I note that you refuse to answer my question. Back to Adam then. Go on, who else?
Adam Tilgate: You mentioned Rachel Marsovenus. Okay, then we have a special guest, who refused to go to Dublin and the Anglican Primates' meeting, Right Reverend Mountaineer Anus.
Mountaineer Anus: It is pronounced Annus, despite the spelling.
Adam Tilgate: Sorry, Bishop Anus.
Mountaineer Anus: That's better.
Adam Tilgate: Sat on the other side of Lesley Bloke is Harry Tickpaper, and he has brought along fellow Unitarians Benny Hundle and Melanie Pritstick, and Rachel is for balance the other way. Oh I see that the Archbishop of the North is just walking in.
Peter Levite: Get out of my studio! Make yourself useful and go and make some sandwiches for lunch.
John Sendmehome: Huh. The idea is to be on the radio.
Peter Levite: Well you're not. Out.
John Sendmehome: Oh, I'll be of service and go and prepare some chicken sandwiches. A man asked a cook how do you prepare chicken and he said we don't, we just tell it that it's going to die. I'm going, I'm going. See you all later.
Peter Levite: He was cooking our breakfast this morning. Lesley Bloke, answer me: why are you all glowing and happy? You've been like this from the first moment you came in and no doubt it did not start just then.
Harry Tickpaper: She is best advised not to discuss these more personal things in public.
Adam Tilgate: Okay I agree and think we ought to keep to general issues and so can I ask the Bishop not just about not being in Dublin now but the general stance he is taking.
Peter Levite: I don't seem to be getting far with my contribution, Lesley Bloke, either about why you are here a lot or your smiling exterior? Are they connected?
Lesley Bloke: No, as it happens. Adam, for goodness sake.
Peter Levite: I just note your comparative reticence on all counts. And I see Harry Tickpaper is grinning.
Lesley Bloke: For the duration I'll discuss what we are here for as befits an ordained Anglican curate. And aren't we allowed to smile and even glow?
Peter Levite: And I'll discuss what befits the region's leading investigative hard-hitting news reader.
Adam Tilgate: Quick. Stop. Okay. Mountaineer Anus, what is your main argument? Better cover this in some depth, please.
Peter Levite: Are you telling me to stop?
Mountaineer Anus: We must be in the business of recovering se Word of God for the Anglican Communion, you see. Anglicanism is fundamentally grounded in the Bible, as by the early reformers and resolutions.
Adam Tilgate: So obviously there is a problem.
Mountaineer Anus: Yes. We need to look at where we have failed and how we recover the importance of se Word of God.
Adam Tilgate: Well before we see where we have failed, according to your view, what would we be like if we had not failed.
Mountaineer Anus: Sass is a good starting point. If we follow se Bible then it is living, active, sharp, penetrates and judges. Thas's from Hebrews, yes? And so the Bible continues to speak to us, living in us and and transforming each and every one of us. It works in us and transforms us. That means God of course, through his word, his word that does not change and does not make lies.
Adam Tilgate: So it doesn't change and it penetrates.
Lesley Bloke: Of course it penetrates but is it unchanging?
Mountaineer Anus: I'll come to sat. See, as such, it - unchanging- lets us discern if se heart is godly. Plus se Bible shows Jesus and his plan for salvation. There is something else too. Se Book of Acts says whenever the word is preached the church grows, that see number of disciples increases rapidly.
Adam Tilgate: Okay but all that might be said to apply in general for Christians.
Mountaineer Anus: No no, see it is true and then become Christian.
Adam Tilgate: You are clearly concerned with Anglicanism and so what did it get right, okay, before we ask what it got wrong?
Mountaineer Anus: Anglicans had a key role in making se Word of God available in the languages of the people.
Adam Tilgate: Is that it?
Mountaineer Anus: It is a great deal. Se Word of God was at se heart of se Reformation: and it was placed higher than any human authority. Take Cramner, Latimer, Ridley and Tyndale and the Reformers who would be burned at the stake. Cranmer's first and second Books of Common Prayer were both Bible centred. Hooker is often quoted: he confirmed that scripture contains everything necessary to salvation and Christ is there. Scripture first, reason second and tradition third.
Rachel Marsovenus: I couldn't agree more. It's really important to realise that the three legged stool has three legs of different lengths and each leg leads to the other. Ooh, I wonder if I left the cooker on?
Adam Tilgate: Okay. So what is wrong?
Rachel Marsovenus: I might have left the cooker on.
Adam Tilgate: No, Bishop Anus: what is wrong?
Mountaineer Anus: We need another reformation within the Anglican Communion. Anglican articles have said that if it is not in scripture then it is not required of anyone, and yet increasingly Anglican Churches demand submission to modern culture. But let us be clear: se Church has authority to shape faith but not when it is different from the Word of God. Now se whole Church is rightly guardian and interpreter of scripture in that it may teach nothing except what is concluded and proved by scripture. Lambeth Conferences of Anglican bishops once every ten years have successively stated resolutions to this effect. Yet there were no resolutions in 2008! Please don't laugh.
Adam Tilgate: Was there not a need to discuss? Indaba was a process of detailed discussion and listening from all sides.
Rachel Marsovenus: Definitely.
Mountaineer Anus: As an African I know what indaba means! It means you listen to both sides and make a decision: not just listen and listen and listen and listen. To conclude that scripture challenges and transforms us full of joy and that it can be unsettling did not have the force of a resolution. But we have had resolutions before: 1978 we said member churches are not advised to take action regarding issues of concern to others without consultation via the Lambeth Conference or the Primates Meeting. Primates initiated a study of authority. In 1998 we could see that some cases there could be intervention in an emergency when a Church was incapable of internal resolution based on the Bible finding limits of diversity.
Adam Tilgate: You are saying what?
Mountaineer Anus: That sis is already conciliar via the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting.
Lesley Bloke: Can we comment yet? These things are only advised; these provinces are autonomous.
Mountaineer Anus: Yes I admit that the resolutions are not binding and lack executive authority. But it still produces a very biblical communion which can interpret together to find the limits of Anglican diversity. And my point is that if we followed the resolutions made we would not be dysfunctional.
Adam Tilgate: Okay. I can see people itching to come in.
Peter Levite: Lesley Bloke, you are not glowing and smiling like you were before.
Adam Tilgate: But we need to know your view still on how to recover.
Mountaineer Anus: Correct. We first need to remember from where we have fallen, then we must repent, and finally we need to do again what we did at first. We fell when some Churches lost confidence in se Word of God and its authority. You see it's about neglecting study of the Bible and the teaching that leads to biblical literacy. So we end up with Churches and its ministers that do not believe in essentials like the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, crucifixion, resurrection, salvation by faith and eternal life as defined in the creeds.
Benny Hundle: Well we Unitarians don't believe in the creeds, and we don't demand beliefs like those just listed.
Melanie Pritstick: In fact we move on. At a recent Yorkshire Unitarian Union meeting we said both that we are relaxed about old issues of dogma and doctrine and they are irrelevant to most of us.
Mountaineer Anus: It's why you are tiny.
Melanie Pritstick: I'm not tiny!
Moutaineer Anus: Why your Church is tiny, if it is a Church.
Harry Tickpaper: Why churches are tiny or large are for sociological reasons. There is no simple magic bullet, and certainly no theological magic bullet. Some of the most successful Unitarian churches are the most urban, radical, with a social and political message: a clear identity perhaps, and then some do well because they are suburban, and some because they are communal within and even without.
Mountaineer Anus: Anyway. I don't care about you. I'm only concerned with Christians and the Anglican dispute, which we must get right.
Harry Tickpaper: Oh go ahead and we'll happily pick up the liberals.
Lesley Bloke: [Cough]
Adam Tilgate: Well, okay, but there are liberals across denominations. I'd point to we Affirming Liberals.
Harry Tickpaper: Affirming what? Liberalism or minimal doctrines? It just reduces it to institutional politics.
Rachel Marsovenus: I don't understand why you can't find the Bible more exciting.
Adam Tilgate: Who?
Rachel Marsovenus: Any of you. It gives me a thrill.
Lesley Bloke: Whatever floats your boat.
Mountaineer Anus: For some the Bible is becoming an ancient book of wisdom, like other religious books, a heremeneutical supermarket where you pick what you like and leave what you don't.
Benny Hundle: Exactly right. Dead right. I won't beat about the bush. You have your shopping trolley.
Mountaineer Anus: Not se truth will make you free, because Jesus Christ becomes a truth among many truths not se Truth.
Lesley Bloke: But isn't that because Gandhi can inspire and Mohammad is a holy man?
Mountaineer Anus: I listen to you and it is all infested here, but revelation ends with a harsh judgment on those who take away from the Word of God.
Harry Tickpaper: It is one big fantasy. There is no harsh judgment. There is no plausibility structure for any of this now. You are just becoming sectarian.
Lesley Bloke: There is postmodern choice, though. If you think about it, society has so shifted. What Bishop Mountaineer says is true easily fitted the classical time of being mainly rural. Modernity was urban and now the distance between rural and urban has diminished. Christianity made so much sense when work was integrated with life and family, but again modernity came with the division of labour and specialisation, but now we have industrial decline, decentralised jobs and the unemployed. Hopefully we have gone from feudalism, to modernity's liberal capitalism to postmodern socialism.
Harry Tickpaper: What? Hardly Fukuyama's point. Have you ever tackled Slavoj Zisek for example?
Barry Hundle: Harry, you are showing off.
Lesley Bloke: I'm tackling the bishop here. The social field has gone from the personal and hierarchical via impersonal modernity to today's transience of relationships many of us do experience. Christians go on and on about an idealised family, but in modernity it was weakened through increasing regulations and now is redefined, diverse, and then if you move up to the community level you find that the one big Christian metanarrative in premodernity became marginalised in the modern nation state and now religion is fragmented, tolerant and really about personal choice.
Melanie Pritstick: You must be one of us. It becomes today about constructing your own stories, after careful and monitored engagement with individuals and their deepest selves. It's about spiritual transformation.
Lesley Bloke: If we once took morality from the absolute transcendent being, it became rational in modernity and now there are no absolutes with much inconsistency, with lots of subgroups. Knowledge was revelation based, very objective, and taught - just like the bishop teaches - but then in modernity it became reason-based by discovery, and now postmodernism allows the subjective, the intuitive, and validation by feelings. What was once supernatural became natural in modernity and now it is anti-realist. Bishop, you look backwards, but from going future orientated with modernity's discoveries we now look to the present. You assume original sin, as if subject to God’s will, Bishop, but modernity introduced autonomy and now there is social construction. Bishop, you are out of date.
Moutaineer Anus: And you are a clergywoman.
Harry Tickpaper: That's a load of cod sociology, Lesley. Even ideal types couldn't make such bold and sweeping statements and that is what they are designed for. First from an economic base you need to decide whether we have moved from one form of capitalism to another, and thus modernity to high modernity, and whether high modernism isn't somewhat continuous with modernism rather than discontinuous as postmodernism claims. And even so much postmodernism is continuous. I mean it doesn't do much for the Bishop's argument, but that's his lookout.
Barry Hundle: You've lost me. I thought the earth goes round the sun and that's it.
Rachel Marsovenus: But postmodernism leads to enhancing the Word because it allows us to be neo-orthodox, like along the lines of Hans Frei and the Church has a clear identity like with Lindbeck. We have the space to be and become Church.
Harry Tickpaper: Except it is without objective reference. It is like a fantasy, a drama, a play. Big deal. You may as well follow any vision you like - just like the Archbishop of Anglicanism implied in his New Year's message.
Adam Tilgate: Okay. Clearly a difference of opinion. I think Keith Realist isn't quite a postmodernist.
Peter Levite: Who?
Adam Tilgate: He is a broad theologian who takes full account of science in reconstructing theology. He fronts our small group of Affirming Liberals. Okay. What I was hoping to ask Lesley Bloke about was authority in the Church, but perhaps the bishop should underline his view on authority first.
Mountaineer Anus: Well we have had it laid in front of us here today. Se individualist and hedonistic spirit of our world today has penetrated our Communion and so it does not listen or consult Church to Church within the Communion. The Lambeth Conference of 2008 almost completely lost that conciliarity that had been developed over decades. Go down this road heard today and our Communion becomes the light of the culture and not scripture. Contemporary culture is being given more authority than scripture. Some is lack of confidence and some wilful neglect, and oh if only Africa had Western resources we would not have heretical sects and prosperity theology along with all se praise we give.
Harry Tickpaper: Unitarians are growing well in Africa, some in urban centres and very alternative, and some odd rural places with the Internet important where pastors say, "I like that," and set it up.
Adam Tilgate: So you were saying Bishop that after repentance we would need to get back to where it started.
Mountaineer Anus: The need for repentance is absolutely crucial. I will personally offer healing to you people in this studio. To get trust back among Anglicans at least we must be open to se Holy Spirit that inspired se people of God to write scripture in the first place. We must develop Sunday schools for biblical literacy.
Harry Tickpaper: The Sunday School movement is finished. Anyway, it was mainly to allow parents to have sex without kids coming into the bedroom.
Lesley Bloke: I'd like to develop Sunday School with my ministry, hands off and lay led of course.
Rachel Marsovenus: Lots and lots and lots and lots of children.
Lesley Bloke: We are not Roman Catholics.
Rachel Marsovenus: I'm talking about Sunday School.
Mountaineer Anus: Surely they use the Internet and so we must teach se Word of God in a way interesting to them. We can use drama where computers are not available or literacy is a problem. Singapore started a very ambitious lay people programme to teach the Bible. We need biblically sound theological schools to equip orthodox biblical teachers.
Adam Tilgate: Theological colleges aren't like that. Well, except about two. Crumbs there are some two hundred and fifty years of doing critical theology.
Mountaineer Anus: And let's not forget that se Anglican Communion needs to give the Lambeth Conference and Primates the conciliar role it was developing including the interpretation of scriptures. We must follow the Windsor Report here and call to the whole Communion a re-evaluation of the ways that we read, hear, study and digest scripture. No longer can we drop random texts into arguments, as if we can sweep away sections of the New Testament as irrelevant in today's world, as if this solves the problem.
Lesley Bloke: I thought it was the fundies who dropped random texts into arguments.
Mountaineer Anus: No no. We need mature, wise study and prayerful discussion; that is, a joint commitment to obeying God as he speaks, discovering Jesus Christ who is of all authority, and be open to the fresh wind of the Spirit and who inspired scripture in first place. The fact is that provinces moving from norm of Anglican tradition and the Global South and orthodox begin today in the effort to rescue and revive our beloved community. We guard the deposit entrusted with help of Holy Spirit.
Rachel Marsovenus: Fantastic.
Adam Tilgate: So what's wrong with that, Lesley Bloke?
Lesley Bloke: Mountaineer Anus didn't mention the elephant in the room.
Peter Levite: We haven't got much time left. What's an elephant got to do with this discussion?
Lesley Bloke: It's homophobia, because scripture forbids usury (that is lending money with interest) and the Church hasn't threatened to split over this. It's sex and gender, isn't it? Like that Reform clergyman Julian Womann says, your non-negotiable can be no women in charge of men.
Rachel Marsovenus: It's the issue of the moment. I want to negotiate.
Lesley Bloke: I don't want to negotiate with that. You won't tackle homosexual sex, but you have to tackle women in positions of leadership. The rapid shift in society towards accepting homosexuality has caused a very strong reaction from those who will not accept it, and far from Lambeth 1.10 1998 being a resolution to bind together it is what actually drives the Communion apart. It sure has no executive authority. And in Anglicanism bishops don't decide stuff, but all decide: bishops, priests and laity. The Reformation was against such papal-like authority. Bishops alone have no authority. Yet it's as if this authoritarianism is becoming the means of being an Anglican and also Some Issues in Human Sexuality is something Anglican clergy are forced to follow and I had to say yes to that to be accepted, but I don't say yes to it or Lambeth 1998. Forget about 1.10 from then and scrap Some Issues in Human Sexuality as well as the Anglican Covenant we haven't even mentioned yet. Each Church can address homosexuality itself.
Rachel Marsovenus: At least keep talking, surely. Indaba does do important things.
Lesley Bloke: We are not just talking; this bishop is instructing.
Mountaineer Anus: I am not instructing; the Bible is instructing me. You are saying society this and society sat and then you might produce some loose concept of Christ. But we have it written down so very clearly.
Lesley Bloke: And you are wrong on Hooker. Hooker says scripture is primary where there isn't reason and where matters can only be known through revelation, such as Christ as Son of God. Natural reason can be prior to revelation. Reason isn't just secondary but assists what scripture reveals. And where scripture is no longer applicable reason comes in. Plus it was Puritans who said only Scripture provides an explicit norm.
Rachel Marsovenus: Hooker said there are various God given laws, and one of them is the one God supernaturally reveals. Scripture leaves some things to be ordered by the Church and that means flexibility in organising, but Puritans said the Church organisation should be via Scripture alone and thus a stress on Presbyters. Like Scripture had to direct everything. Yeah but with Hooker although reason is not a supplement to scripture, it is to complement scripture and scripture contains its own divine reasoning. It is not individual reasoning that decides upon scripture, but nor is reasoning debased by sin.
Peter Levite: I bet this Hooker didn't hang about on street corners.
Harry Tickpaper: It is a Protestant version of Thomism: Aquinas absorbed Aristotle and the Islamic yes to reasoning. Reason wasn't going to operate alone or in competition either for Aquinas or Hooker. But Hooker downplays tradition, and that's the difference from Aquinas, and says tradition can change if not prevented by scripture. But for those who didn't believe in original sin at all, like the Socinians, they used what they called 'ordinary comprehension' - but that was in central Europe. Unitarians come from Puritans and Puritans had specific anti Socinian thoughts, including in Trust Deeds.
Benny Hundle: Strange world. Don't you Anglicans ever evolve?
Lesley Bloke: Well, await developments.
Adam Tilgate: Huh.
Rachel Marsovenus: But Hooker also said that the Church cannot go against scripture as that would be against union with God. So you cannot stretch it Lesley and whilst we might not agree with Julian Womann we might well conclude with the Open Evangelical position and I am one. The authoritative beauty of Scripture is our salvation. And he does write to state scripture first, then force of reason, then the voice of the Church. Scripture when plain is given first. Changes to tradition must be tested against scripture so that they are proved to be of God.
Moutaineer Anus: Hooray for scriptural literacy.
John Sendmehome: [Coming into the studio] Hooray for sandwiches. A chap says to the waiter, "Chicken sandwiches twice," and the waiter says, "I heard you the first time." Anyway, these are chicken and these are Quorn like chicken cubes.
Peter Levite: Where's that smile and glow gone now Lesley Bloke?
Lesley Bloke: Await developments. All I'll say is I want a job, not to be single, and lots of friends and I've already lots of friends online.
Peter Levite: Do you know what? I haven't had a clue what you have all been going on about.
Benny Hundle: Harry, can you do me a 250 word summary of this for the church magazine?
Harry Tickpaper: Are you serious?
Peter Levite: I'm dropping bits out of my sandwiches.
John Sendmehome: A man said to the manager, "Your restaurant is filthy," and the manager said, "You could eat your dinner off our floor," and he said, "It looks like they already have."
Peter Levite: Rachel, you're getting lipstick on your bread. Adam, ask for the weather.
Adam Tilgate: Where are you George Hudson?
George Hudson: Selby. Peter, I've just received an email. This woman saw you having lunch yesterday in that Russian shop having sandwiches then. You were then all glowing and smiling; that wasn't Carol Countdown again was it?
Peter Levite: If I was allowed to I'd swear. Why don't you stick to the weather? Oh, and trains.
George Hudson: Cold innit.
John Sendmehome: Why do New Age women fail to get pregnant? Because their men have crystal balls.
Mountaineer Anus: I never fail to be amazed.
Peter Levite: Do you ever give couples actual advice, Archbishop?
John Sendmehome: Oh yes. I tell them not to worry. It isn't premarital sex if they have no intention of getting married.
Peter Levite: Here on Radio Chadderbox from Wykkyfish it's time for my Music and Texts programme, where your texts fill out the gaps between my choice of CDs. Thanks to the panel and our interviewer Adam until the next time.
Brilliant. A masterly illustration of how to say absolutely nothing in several million words.
I always try to be masterly in everything I do.
Someone understands it!
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