Future Church of England: Philip North and Non-Conservative Horror

I wrote briefly about the response of conservative evangelicals to the debacle with Philip North stepping back from being Bishop of Sheffield. However, I have seen another response which I find intriguing if a little frustrating.

It's the response the non-conservative evangelical who is horrified at how North has been treated. They are shocked that the 5 guiding principles have not been abided by. They are appalled to see that conservatives don't actually flourish in the church.

I wonder if you can guess why I find that a little frustrating. When they were involved in pushing through the legislation and the principles with respect to women bishops, I wonder what they thought would happen.

Let me make a few of observations to those non-conservative evangelicals who are now expressing such horror.

1. You broke the promise of 2 integrities. Well just as that promise was broken, it turns out this one can be.

2. You created an incoherent and impossible situation. The 5 guiding principles are incoherent and unstable. Unstable systems break down, usually pretty quickly and usually towards giving power to the more powerful. The inevitable has just happened.

3. You sided with the liberal revisionists. They're not Christians. They don't believe the same gospel. Whether you realised it or not you decided you would rather be in a denomination with them than with conservatives. That's just happening now.

4. You chose not to listen (or perhaps not to care) when conservatives told you that what happened to Philip North has been happening in less public ways for years. Conservatives excluded from posts for being, well, conservative. Even before the women bishops legislation was passed, I didn't get through a single application process for an incumbency without being quizzed on my attitude to women's ministry (i.e. the ones that bothered to quiz me about anything before rejecting me). Relatively speaking I had it easy. What has happened with Philip North has just made it a bit more public, but we did tell you.

I have to admit that to this conservative evangelical, the pious-sounding horror at broken promises and bullying sounds a little like sanctimonious hand-wringing, but perhaps I'm too harsh...


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