Radical inclusion played out in Derby Cathedral
As Marie Antoinette will always be remembered for her phrase “Let them eat cake” Archbishop Justin Welby may be remembered for his call to transform the Church of England by ‘radical inclusion.”
It is embarrassing to question the motives of an archbishop, but under the spotlight his rallying call seems to have been motivated by either disingenuousness or what one might charitably try to call ‘lack of thought.’
Welby is the same generation as I am, and we were both well educated. Most boys of our generation were brought up reading Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Huxley’s Brave New World. We knew about ‘Newspeak.’ We were well aware of the dangers of a culture, or a highly politicised society to use one word for public consumption that actually meant another.
So Welby would have known (if he were honest) or should have known (if he had thought) that ‘inclusion’ for some means exclusion for others. In circumstances where an ethical issue is contested that must inevitably be the case.
Did Welby know that the proposed changes that his regime has been pushing were unacceptable to the whole of the rest of the body of Christ that kept faith with the straightforward reading and interpretation of the Bible? Of course he did. He is involved in a campaign to make sure that no one who disagrees with is progressive agenda is appointed to a senior position in the organisation.
He and others are committed to what in an anodyne phrase has been called ‘mutual flourishing’. But this is another example of ‘newspeak’. It is neither meant nor is it true. The test of both was the proposed appointment of one (only one) traditionalist bishop – Philip North- to a diocese. He was bullied out of it.
Equally no orthodox Christian can wish for heterodoxy to flourish and for a variety of psychological and spiritual motives, the progressives despise the orthodox and want them out of ‘their’ church. ( I know, I was an ethical progressive for a while.) The days of the Church of England being a carefully balanced mixture of spiritualities and theologies are long gone. The progressives believe in power, and with considerable political expertise (that goes with territory of those who believe in power) they have exercised it.
POWER, MONEY AND SEX AND DERBY CATHEDRAL
The three great challenges or temptations for Christians are often seen as being money, power and sex and all three are involved in the recent case of Derby cathedral ‘banning’ the Rev’d Melvin Tinker from preaching at a Carol Service organised by the local university Christian Union.
THE ABUSE OF POWER.
After the C.U invited Mr Tinker a formidable, entertaining and captivating preacher, and he had accepted, the Dean dis-invited him. Discovering that this dis-invitation had been made public and that he had become accountable for his act of censorship, the Dean took, rather ineptly it must be said, to the internet: ‘the Dean denies banning Mr Tinker.’
Hiding behind the fig leaf of administrative process he wrote:
“The Dean invites all guest preachers for services to be held at the Cathedral. This remains the Dean’s responsibility even when the service is organised jointly with another organisation……It is entirely wrong to claim that anyone has been ‘banned’ simply because the Dean has not chosen to invite them on this occasion.”
Of course this is simply disingenuous. Dr Stephen Hance is taking rather nervous behind a form of words. The Christian Union asked if they could have Mr Tinker, and Dr Hance refused. This is a ‘ban’.
SEX & THE NEWSPEAK OF INCLUSION.
There might be any number of things that belong in a cathedral. Arguable sex and horror are not among them.
In one of his weekly columns in the Spectator, Rod Liddle (29.11.18) commented on the full range of what the Dean was to include (and then what he might exclude with his usual mixture of pungency and scorn for hypocrisy:
“Nic Roeg’s art-house thriller from 1973 Don’t Look Now was most famous, or infamous, for its lengthy and explicit sex scene. I think it’s fair to say that the lugubrious (and in 1973 near ubiquitous) Donald Sutherland gave Julie Christie a very thorough seeing-to, involving the first act of cunnilingus in a mainstream movie.
Even after being trimmed a little it still received an X rating, but did well enough at the box office. It was shown again quite recently — in Derby Cathedral, for reasons which quite elude me. In its unedited form. The dean of the cathedral, Stephen Hance, observed that the film would not be showing God ‘anything that He had not seen before’, thus perhaps implying that He had caught the film first time around, on its double-bill release with The Wicker Man — which was also shown in the cathedral.
Hance did not comment on the possibility that God may have seen more than enough of Donald Sutherland in the 1970s, regardless of what the actor might have been munching at the time. He did, however, add that the cathedral was for everyone and it needed to serve a wide range of people — including those who aren’t religious. Well indeed, how very true that is, Rev.
You might be wondering, then, if there is anything at all Dean Hance would shirk from displaying in his cathedral, and luckily I have the answer for you. This week he has banned the University of Derby Christian Union from having a preacher at its carol concert for students. The union had hoped to hear the Reverend Melvin Tinker, from the evangelical Anglican parish of St John Newland, Hull, address the throng.
Not a chance, said the cathedral bosses. Neither would they accept any other preacher from St John Newland because, according to the sub-dean: ‘What is preached in the cathedral will be taken as being preached by the cathedral.’ Hmm. You mean stuff like the Holy Bible?”
So the Dean of Derby’s understanding of ‘radical inclusion’ includes sex and horror. But he doesn’t stand alone. Dr Jules Gomes lists the outcome of radical inclusion in other cathedrals in Welby’s C of E:
“In the last couple of years, Church of England cathedrals have shocked Christians and the secular world by hosting events that are in conflict with scripture and church tradition.
- Earlier this month, Blackburn Cathedral hosted a Muslim call to prayer.
- In August 2018, Portsmouth Cathedral withdrew nude paintings from a cathedral art showafter churchgoers complained.
- Gloucester Cathedral held an interfaith event, which included the Muslim call to prayer in 2017.
- St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow invited a Muslim to read passages from the Koranthat explicitly denied the divinity of Christ at an Epiphany Eucharistic service in 2017.
- Ely Cathedral was criticised for flying the Rainbow Flagduring the Gay Pride month in 2018.
- Gay Pride in York for the past few years has begun its parade from outside the West End of York Minster with the full support of Dean Vivienne Faull, who is now Bishop of Bristol. The Canon Pastor of York Minster has blessed and offered a prayer for the pride march.
- Southwark Cathedral has participated in the Gay Pride march in 2018 with the Cathedral banner, following the “success of our participation in last year’s London Pride Parade”.
- The Isle of Man Cathedral draped the high altar and an icon of Jesus with the Rainbow Flagat special service in memory of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016.
- LGBT Eucharistic services in cathedralsare becoming increasingly common as seen from recent services in Wells Cathedral and Reading Minster.”
So now we know what Derby cathedral will include, and that brings us to the limits of their radical inclusion. What will they exclude and why. Well we know already that they will exclude an orthodox preacher and theologian from a Carol Service.
Premier Radio asked Melvin Tinker for his account of the ban:
“When asked what the cathedral might have taken issue with, Mr Tinker told Premier: “To be honest it’s very difficult not to cause upset in the Church of England now if one holds an orthodox line, just on the basic beliefs and basic Christian behaviour and discipleship.”
“It seems that basically the progressive agenda is one that is being bought into, and if you don’t buy into that, then by default you are excluded….I’m saddened and not surprised, because this is part of a bigger trend.
“With all the talk of radical inclusion in the Church of England by two Archbishops, it seems increasingly the only people not being included are orthodox or particularly evangelicals.”
Mr Tinker went on to say that the cathedral’s decision might put off students: “What message is being sent by the cathedral to them? With no legitimate reason given that I would say something that would be un-Christian or political or anything like that, it seems rather high handed of them.”
Tinker suggested no one from his church would be welcome to preach at the cathedral.
He said: “The explanation given to me by a member of the Christian Union executive was that no one, not just myself, from St Johns Newland could speak at the cathedral because of ‘our relations with York diocese’ and that was it. So no other reason was given.”
Melvin Tinker has previously publicly criticised senior leaders in the Diocese of York over purported support of LGBT groups.”
So what really does lie behind the ban? Is if just that the Dean doesn’t like orthodox evangelical preachers? Since the Dean replaced Mr Tinker with someone more acceptable to him, it must be more than that.
Melvin Tinker’s toxicity in the eyes of the Dean appears to be that he runs one of the largest and most flourishing churches in the diocese. His parish Church in Hull have withheld parish share from the diocese in response to its support for the sexualisation of Christian identity and its promotion of LGBT culture which is inimical to the New Testament and the universal Christian living out of that Gospel (Tradition.)
So at first sight whilst this appeared to be about a disinclination to allow orthodox preachers into the cathedral, it is actually about the terror that Mr Tinker inspires in the heart of the Anglican establishment.
The day to day running of most dioceses and their solvency depend upon the contributions of the larger evangelical churches in the diocese. If ever they turned, and with the courage of their convictions withheld the diocesan contributions they make as a sign that they refused to bankroll the heterodox sub-Christian programme of so called radical inclusion, the Church of England, or at least many of its dioceses, would suddenly be in serious difficulty.
Stephen Kneale is a pastor at Oldham Bethel Church and has been commenting recently about his surprise at how supine the Anglican orthodox appear to be in the face of their liberal overseers.
“I have met the Bishop of Manchester a couple of times (though he would have no reason to remember me). At the time – given I am a nobody who doesn’t belong to his diocese or denomination and share none of his theology – there was no reason for him to want to impress me. But I did note the Evangelicals in his communion who were very quick to bow and scrape to a man they denounce as a liberal who believes a diametrically opposing gospel. I also noted the evident contempt with which he held those who do share my theological views in the few things he said. It did seem as though he had rather more time for the Muslims we were meeting than he did for those of us who follow the same Lord he claims as his own.
Given all of that, what does it say about those to whom this money has been given that such a man was happy to give it to them? If this bishop barely makes any effort to his contempt for Evangelicals, what does it mean that he is happy to give to this kind of Evangelical? Are these acceptable Evangelicals to those who propound liberal theology? What does that mean for their particular brand of Evangelicalism?
At the same time, if people are labelled ‘too toxic’ to work with because of their stand against such liberals, what does this say about the intent of those looking to plant these churches? Are they being driven by gospel concerns and a desire to see people won for Christ or are they being driven by a pragmatism that is far more toxic than any stand against liberal authorities could possibly be? Something is seriously awry when Evangelicals would prefer the money of their liberal paymasters than to be linked with those who apparently share the same gospel.”
Returning to the Dean of Derby and Melvin Tinker, Mr Tinker is one of the few clergy courageous enough to withhold diocesan contributions on a matter of principle and ecclesial integrity.
I know from my own experience how deeply this enrages the hierarchy. After the Bishop of Winchester broke a series of undertakings to the Island of Jersey and supressed a safeguarding report which would have exposed his misdemeanours, my parish withheld the central diocesan ‘share’. At a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace the suffragen bishop of Southampton spluttered palace cake all down my chest as he exploded in rage that our action was going to bankrupt poorer parishes in Southampton. This was as untrue as it was incontinent.
But the hierarchy are very anxious indeed about the example that Melvin Tinker has set. If they can’t get evangelical money, they can’t continue to promote a deviant unstable sexual culture or the aberrant heterodox mis-presentation of a Christianity that is defined by a person’s sexual appetites instead of their identity within the love and charity of Christ and his invitation to penitence and holiness.
About a third of the Church of England’s cathedrals are in a financially perilous position, which is presumably one of the things that lie behind the Dean of Derby’s erotic film club. Another third are managing, but only just; and a further third are insulated by wealthy historic endowments.
It is to be hoped, that having seen how deeply committed the Welby’s C of E is to the kind of radical inclusion that denies and defies the practice of authentic Christianity as it has always been understood, orthodox Christians within the C of E will realise that the political battles they have been fitfully fighting are lost, and like the honourable Melvin Tinker will either refuse to fund the project any further, or leave; or both.