(1) Nostalgia for a different era of Anglican evangelicalism: Quite often I find myself thinking thoughts which are less than well formed and then - courtesy of the breadth and variety of the internet - discover someone has written them up for me better than I could do.
In this case my half-formed thoughts have been about what has changed for Anglican evangelicalism from former to present days (at least in the English stream enjoyed by Australia and New Zealand as well as England). Once upon a time, evangelicals were a minority within the church, sometimes a somewhat maligned and marginalised group. On the minority aspect (but not the maligned or marginalised aspect), when I was a child my father was the vicar of the only evangelical parish in one of our dioceses. That others around us did not share our views, including the bishop, and so forth, seemed not to matter much: it just meant we needed to work on our mission as we understood and hope one day others might want to join us. It did not mean departure.
Thus it was good to read recently something written by Charles Read, a priest in the Diocese of Norwich, who offers some autobiographical reflections here and includes this:
"I hope you might see the fact that evangelicals like us were happy to be who we were in a church where we were a minority, and where we did not expect to find bishops, archdeacons or diocesan staff who shared our theological views. We just got along with such people, and in the parish we got on with preaching a message of God’s love and salvation open to all, if they would simply turn to God and accept Jesus as their saviour."
But here, for example, is a very recent statement of the opposite, of the unhappiness of an English evangelical Anglican parish which feels out of step with their bishop(s):
"St Ebbe’s clergy have already declared that we are in impaired communion with the bishops in our diocese, which means that we will not welcome them to preach, confirm, ordain or conduct our ministerial reviews, and we will not take communion with them. The PCC has also taken action to ensure that any money we pay within the diocese is distributed via the Oxford Good Stewards Trust and is only used for faithful gospel ministry and essential administrative costs. We will be working closely with others, especially within the Church of England Evangelical Council, to discuss what other actions we can take, either individually as churches or together, both to distance ourselves from false teaching and to promote the cause of the gospel. As a larger church, we are especially conscious of our responsibility to help and support smaller evangelical churches, as well as faithful clergy and laity who are in the especially vulnerable situation of serving in churches where their congregations are divided or against them on these issues.
The debate within Synod, and the decision it made, bear witness to a division which goes far deeper than that over the particular presenting issue. There are now two distinct groups within the Church of England. One has chosen the way of compromise with the world and disobedience to God’s word; the other is determined to stay faithful to Christ, whatever the cost. It has been very encouraging to see deepening bonds growing between orthodox Anglicans, from different evangelical and other orthodox ‘tribes’. In the months, and no doubt years, ahead we will be seeking to build new structures that will, God willing, enable us to maintain distance from those who have gone down the wrong path, while working together with orthodox Anglicans in the cause of the gospel."
Given that, once upon a time, at least in my memory, Anglican evangelicals felt no particular need to leave their English/Australian/New Zealand churches, even though we worried about the lack of understanding of the gospel by diocesan leaders and other parish clerics. It was asserted that they were preaching "churchianity" rather than Christianity. From some preachers there were jibes against other parts of the church such as the (not particularly empathetic) quip (against Anglo-Catholics): "we are saved by grace, not by grease". Then, when it came to which Anglican missions were to be supported or not, we distinguished between those missions we understood to preach the gospel from those who didn't.
We didn't leave over these differences.
Try as I might, I cannot see wherein "That Topic" we have some new "gospel" grounds to justify setting up some kind of new Anglican church or network of churches or (as a recent commenter here proposes) a "realignment" of the Anglican Communion.
(2) Nostalgic for a different era re money and preaching?
Very occasionally, when moving outside my normal preaching "zone" (i.e. working in the Diocese which provides me with a stipend), I receive a small honorarium. Very tiny relative to figures cited below.
If I were smarter, I would change my name to "TD Jakes" or "Brian Houston" ... as The Other Cheek points out in an expose of eye watering, I could buy a house with that kind of honorarium honoraria over the Ditch.
"In his speech, Wilkie details payments made by Hillsong to guest speakers. “For example, US pastor Joyce Meyer enjoyed honorariums of $160,000, $133,000, $100,000 and $32,000, and US pastor TD Jakes received $71,000 and $120,000, with a staggering $77,000 worth of airfares to and from Australia thrown in. In return, Mr Houston goes to America and receives—you guessed it—his own eye-watering honorariums.”
This system of payments – part of a round-robin of speakers visiting each other’s mega-church or conference – was overdue for exposure.
Several of the Hillsong music leaders are shown as having huge US-based incomes. According to the Wilkie documents, three had an income of $1.3m. (Is this annual income, as the Wilkie documents suggest, or an aggregate figure? This requires investigation, so The Other Cheek is not featuring their names.)"
We live in expensive times. The same article goes on to report on a number of redundancies at Hillsong.
I love (and will continue to love) a number of songs which originate in Hillsong worship. But what has been happening behind the scenes is a long way from the early days of Pentecostalism Down Under.
[Update] (3) Also Nostalgic for Rowan Williams and his intelligence brought to bear on seemingly intractable problems, for instance, as reflected on here.