Bishops should be apt to teach

The British press is reporting that the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said in an interview that the nativity story is just a a legend.

What he really said is that the Wise Men weren’t kings, that they didn’t show up with the shepherds, and that there probably wasn’t snow, since we don’t know that Jesus was really born on December 25. He was casting doubt on the conventional Christmas card scene, which is nothing new or faith-threatening to well-instructed Christians. Unfortunately, today’s Brits are not, on the whole, so well-instructed. (The Archbishop did say that there is “no evidence” the Magi existed, taking the usual Higher Critical approach to Scripture. Normally, if a written document attested to something, that WOULD be considered evidence, but the Bible, for some reason, is not allowed to count.)

But here is my real problem with the Archbishop:

Later on in the show, the Archbishop was challenged by fellow guest Ricky Gervais, the comedian, about the credibility of the Christmas story.

Gervais told Dr Williams he was concerned about “brainwashing” of children who are sent to faith schools at an early age, comparing teaching that God exists to belief in Father Christmas.

Dr Williams said faith schools expose children to the full range of human experience and values and he did not believe they indoctrinated people.

This doctor of theology, this head of the state church addressing his national flock, went along even with a comedian who equated belief in God with a belief in Santa Claus. The Archbishop had an opportunity and a forum to witness to the Christian faith, a chance to explain the doctrine of the Incarnation–which I suspect many Brits have never heard of–but he totally wimped out.

Anglicans of the world: Your problem is not that you have homosexual bishops. It is that you have bishops who deny the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and even sometimes the existence of God. You have bishops who are Druids and syncretists. You have bishops who want to conform to the world rather than teaching God’s Word. (I’m not saying the Archbishop of Canterbury is completely this way, though he is a Druid and is way too concerned about being accepted by Ricky Gervais.) It isn’t so much that Anglicans need heterosexual bishops; first of all, they need Christian bishops.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • FW

    a mark of the true decline of the anglican church is that often the homosexual and female clergy affirm core christian truths more clearly than the ones who see them as the root of the problem.

    I am in NO WAY saying by this that this “balaam´s ass” of a situation is a good one. It merely underscores the depth of the problem.

    I pray that we do not likewise become distracted by the Evil One.

  • FW

    a mark of the true decline of the anglican church is that often the homosexual and female clergy affirm core christian truths more clearly than the ones who see them as the root of the problem.

    I am in NO WAY saying by this that this “balaam´s ass” of a situation is a good one. It merely underscores the depth of the problem.

    I pray that we do not likewise become distracted by the Evil One.

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  • http://faithandgender.wordpress.com Fr. Bill

    “What’s Wrong With Anglicans?” gets a lot of discussion these days, particularly among those Anglicans who could make a credible case for their own “mere Christianity.” Dr. Veith suggests the communion needs Christian bishops.

    But, they have them! Whether Rowan Williams is among them makes an interesting discussion (I vote “no”). Though the number of bishops who are demonstrably orthodox within The Episcopal Church (TEC) is rapidly diminishing and has been a minority for at least a generation, a few are still to be found.

    So, here’s an alternative answer to “what went wrong?”

    The fault does not lie with unorthodox bishops, or with any of their crack-pot, apostate, or heretical points of view. The fault lies squarely with those who make a claim to orthodoxy, because they have consistently, unswervingly, stubbornly refused to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

    To put the matter bluntly, Anglicans of all stripes are loathe to discipline the errant within their own ranks. I speak as a recently ordained Anglican priest who has watched the dissolution of TEC from the inside (as a layman) for the past 20 years. In that time we’ve seen the fruits of a deeply rooted aversion to discipline that goes back at least 50 years in the American church.

    Some make a good argument that this aversion to discipline is constitutional — that the English Reformation from its beginning was crippled by this flaw. Whether this idea is true or not, it is certainly true that this flaw must be corrected if the English Reformation is to recover from its current chaos.

    It would be comical, were it not so tragic, to watch those among the orthodox Anglicans who formerly lacked the cojones to discipline their own ranks to begin to grow them. They resemble roosters who discover that they does not know how to crow, who utter impotent and silly squeaks instead.

    Though a cradle anabaptist, I am now an Anglican for good and compelling reasons. But, if the English Reformation is to have a renaissance in the next generation or so, it will be because it developes the willingness to discipline the hererodox within its own ranks. And, even that development will arise from among those who come into Anglcian Christianity from the outside, and not otherwise.

  • http://faithandgender.wordpress.com Fr. Bill

    “What’s Wrong With Anglicans?” gets a lot of discussion these days, particularly among those Anglicans who could make a credible case for their own “mere Christianity.” Dr. Veith suggests the communion needs Christian bishops.

    But, they have them! Whether Rowan Williams is among them makes an interesting discussion (I vote “no”). Though the number of bishops who are demonstrably orthodox within The Episcopal Church (TEC) is rapidly diminishing and has been a minority for at least a generation, a few are still to be found.

    So, here’s an alternative answer to “what went wrong?”

    The fault does not lie with unorthodox bishops, or with any of their crack-pot, apostate, or heretical points of view. The fault lies squarely with those who make a claim to orthodoxy, because they have consistently, unswervingly, stubbornly refused to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

    To put the matter bluntly, Anglicans of all stripes are loathe to discipline the errant within their own ranks. I speak as a recently ordained Anglican priest who has watched the dissolution of TEC from the inside (as a layman) for the past 20 years. In that time we’ve seen the fruits of a deeply rooted aversion to discipline that goes back at least 50 years in the American church.

    Some make a good argument that this aversion to discipline is constitutional — that the English Reformation from its beginning was crippled by this flaw. Whether this idea is true or not, it is certainly true that this flaw must be corrected if the English Reformation is to recover from its current chaos.

    It would be comical, were it not so tragic, to watch those among the orthodox Anglicans who formerly lacked the cojones to discipline their own ranks to begin to grow them. They resemble roosters who discover that they does not know how to crow, who utter impotent and silly squeaks instead.

    Though a cradle anabaptist, I am now an Anglican for good and compelling reasons. But, if the English Reformation is to have a renaissance in the next generation or so, it will be because it developes the willingness to discipline the hererodox within its own ranks. And, even that development will arise from among those who come into Anglcian Christianity from the outside, and not otherwise.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Dr. Veith,

    Please elaborate on the comment that the archbishop is a Druid.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Dr. Veith,

    Please elaborate on the comment that the archbishop is a Druid.

  • FW

    my point was this

    “It is that you have bishops who deny the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and even sometimes the existence of God. You have bishops who are Druids and syncretists. You have bishops who want to conform to the world rather than teaching God’s Word. ” The most prominent priest in orange county who wants to seceed has a wife who is an anglican priest…”

    so what it took to finally stir things up….the thing that could not be tolerated like all of these other things HAVE been tolerated for years….

    the issue of homosexuality…..

    what is wrong with this picture?

    I am not yet convinced because of all this that the anglican conservative movement is conservative theogically or culturally at its root. ….. it matters. Let´s not rush to decide that this cause within Anglicanism is at one with our own in every respect.

  • FW

    my point was this

    “It is that you have bishops who deny the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and even sometimes the existence of God. You have bishops who are Druids and syncretists. You have bishops who want to conform to the world rather than teaching God’s Word. ” The most prominent priest in orange county who wants to seceed has a wife who is an anglican priest…”

    so what it took to finally stir things up….the thing that could not be tolerated like all of these other things HAVE been tolerated for years….

    the issue of homosexuality…..

    what is wrong with this picture?

    I am not yet convinced because of all this that the anglican conservative movement is conservative theogically or culturally at its root. ….. it matters. Let´s not rush to decide that this cause within Anglicanism is at one with our own in every respect.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Patrick (@4), yeah, I had to look that one up, too. Here’s a BBC article on the matter.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s a capital-D Druid, really. The best explanation might be to say that he was inducted into a Welsh cultural group with odd ceremonies that might be perceived as Druidic. I don’t think it’s too much to say that a person in his position might wisely have avoided the confusion of this ceremony.

    Read the Wikipedia article on “Gorsedd” for more information, particularly the sections on “History”, “Ranks”, and “Admission”.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Patrick (@4), yeah, I had to look that one up, too. Here’s a BBC article on the matter.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s a capital-D Druid, really. The best explanation might be to say that he was inducted into a Welsh cultural group with odd ceremonies that might be perceived as Druidic. I don’t think it’s too much to say that a person in his position might wisely have avoided the confusion of this ceremony.

    Read the Wikipedia article on “Gorsedd” for more information, particularly the sections on “History”, “Ranks”, and “Admission”.

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  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    I know this isn’t the point you’re dwelling on, but I’m a little ticked that the headline for this story was so deceiving. It read that the Nativity (meaning the birth of Christ, to most people) is considered a fraud by leaders of the Church.

    Then, I read that it’s the whole Nativity scene – the Christmas card we’re so used to seeing. Well, duh! That’s not exactly what was implied by the headline, though.

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    I know this isn’t the point you’re dwelling on, but I’m a little ticked that the headline for this story was so deceiving. It read that the Nativity (meaning the birth of Christ, to most people) is considered a fraud by leaders of the Church.

    Then, I read that it’s the whole Nativity scene – the Christmas card we’re so used to seeing. Well, duh! That’s not exactly what was implied by the headline, though.


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