The transcript for a debate which took place in the British parliament yesterday makes for sobering reading. The debate took place in the wake of the vote by the General Synod of the Church of England not to pass the measure which would have brought in women bishops.
One of the remarks made by Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner is particularly noteworthy. He said:
As a consequence of the decision by the General Synod, the Church of England no longer looks like a national Church; it simply looks like a sect, like any other sect. If it wishes to be a national Church that reflects the nation, it has to reflect the values of the nation.
Erastianism, anyone? John Keeble's sermon on National Apostasy? How about the Gorham decision multiplied by however many parishes the CofE has?
Leaving aside the question of what he means when he uses the word 'sect,' that statement is something that should give all sides in this debate pause for thought. Parliament feels the Church of England has to reflect the values of the nation. Not the values of the Gospel, the values of Christ, nor traditional Christian values. Whatever society at large thinks is good is to be accepted and affirmed as good by the CofE. And of course there was in the debate a lot of talk about what Parliament might do to make the CofE do its bidding.
Now, I think things are cooling down a bit & folk are backing down from some of the extreme things that were said earlier (if the links on Let Nothing You Dismay today are anything to go by). But what about next time the CofE votes and 'gets it wrong,' whether on this issue or some other? Worrying to think that the 'Mother Church' of the Anglican Communion can be called to heel by the British Parliament - that noted body of Theologians ... where one has to be neither an Anglican nor even a person of faith in order to have a say on what the doctrine of the CofE should be.
Big Brother is watching indeed.