"They are creating a nasty, divided, prejudiced church which looks totally un-Christian to those on the outside (and to many of us within the church).
The Church of England knows it has a crisis on its hands. It thinks the crisis might be solved by gently persuading enough conservatives to overcome their convictions and vote yes for women bishops. I am convinced the problem is far deeper than that. I think we hold dramatically different understandings about the nature of God and they are irreconcilable. I believe in a God of love. They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays. Until they overcome their prejudice, they will continue to drive the church towards a precipice."
John Richardson at The Ugley Vicar draws attention to the article from which this citation comes. These words are written by Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes as he reflects on the course of the recent C of E General Synod. Of course the 'they' here are people who could be labelled 'conservative' though I suggest a more accurate label would be 'Anglicans who disagree with Colin Coward.' Where, however, there could be a point of agreement with Colin is here,
"I am convinced the problem is far deeper than that. I think we hold dramatically different understandings about the nature of God and they are irreconcilable."
If this is true for sufficient numbers then I think the C of E and consequentially the Anglican Communion should split or, if you like, continue its splitting.
But is this true for sufficient numbers? If Colin Coward's god and the god believed by the rest of the church are dramatically different then that is not quite grounds for splitting the church. I think we could forbear for Colin to remain in the church.
But the whole of Colin's article effectively claims that he speaks for the majority of the church. That is, there are sufficient numbers supporting his understanding of god for a split to be considered because it is mighty hard to maintain two dramatically different understandings of god inside one religious entity which claims itself to be a church of the one God.
I myself, however, am slightly less than convinced by the line Colin takes. My own experience of being an Anglican is that there is a diverse range of views among us including our understanding of God. But the key word is 'range'. I do not see that we fall into neatly divided camps: you lot with your understanding of god pitch your tent over there, my lot will pitch our tents over here. Sure, I can think of fellow Anglicans who when they speak of God speak of a god I do not feel I know (and presumably vice versa) but I cannot count those Anglicans up to be a sufficient number to warrant splitting away from them.
But Colin says some things which are perfectly dreadful inasmuch as they represent a view of fellow Christians which is as nasty as the allegations he makes. To say of people who disagree with him, "They believe in a nasty, rule-bound, vindictive God who despite everything they say, hates gays" is extraordinary in its understanding of fellow believers. Extraordinary because it is not true. People who believe in such a god just don't get elected to Synod! Or selected for ordination :)
However a point lurks uneasily in these words. If one part of an Anglican church or of the Communion is running round thinking another part is 'nasty' and links that to believing in a 'vindictive God' and not believing in a God of love, then there is little hope of reconciliation, of truly partaking of communion together in which one bread is broken as the body of the one Christ. Even fellowship over a cup of tea is going to be difficult.