Future Church of England: Philip North and Conservative Evangelical Horror

Well here we are again. Philip North has been put forward as the new bishop of Sheffield and forced to stand down. Conservatives of all stripes, including Conservative Evangelicals, have taken to social media to express their horror. In particular, there is horror that the settlement over women's bishops and the "5 guiding principles" have not been respected.

It seems to me we are naive if we're surprised, even if we are angry. From the process that forced women's bishops on us and those five guiding principles, it was clear that our "flourishing" was a sop that had already been undermined. The five guiding principles were always a dog's dinner. When you have to preface something with "they need to be read one with the other and held together in tension, rather than being applied selectively," you know that they are incoherent, which indeed they are.

Despite valiant attempts by some conservative evangelicals with respect to the principles, they are and were always incoherent nonsense, as were all our nonsense attempts at trying to rationalise what we did with women bishops. We've been sold down the river. Please let's admit it. Please, please let's stop putting false hope in what is hopeless. The last few days have only shown in practice what was clear in principle already.

We can't move forward if we're in denial. Can this be the wake up call to take us out of denial? Or will we always be too little too late?


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