Scotland’s national church and England’s established church are in competition to see which can produce the most inane response to pressure from the world. Until this week the Church of Scotland had what many thought was an unassailable lead over the Church of England.
In response to pressure from those who believe in the inerrancy of Guardian editorials rather than the Bible, the General Assembly of 2013 produced the Bogle Bungle which allows the admission of practising homosexuals to the CofS ministry.
Following a motion proposed by ex-Moderator Albert Bogle, the General Assembly reached the position that whilst the church continued to affirm the traditional teaching contained in two millennia of Christian theology, they would now allow congregations to choose openly homosexual ministers if they wished.
John Chalmers, moderator of the GA, described the vote in favour of allowing homosexual ministers as ‘massive for the unity of the church’. The vote was followed by the demission of a number of the church’s most active ministers and members, further weakening an already faltering denomination. Meanwhile membership numbers in the CofS keep dropping like mercury in Antarctica.
Thus we have a supposedly serious Presbyterian church approving an Independency stance by saying: ‘We hold the traditional position with regard to homosexuality, but if congregations wish to go their own way they can elect practising homosexuals if they want to.’ The Boggle Bungle eventually became the legal position of the CofS in 2015.
Feeling safe in their lead in the ‘Most Ludicrous Church Stakes’, the CofS did not notice the CofE coming up on the inside with the Welby Wobble. ‘Anything those Presbyterians can do we Anglicans can do better’ seems to be the CofE mantra. On Monday evening the House of Bishops of the CofE General Synod encouraged its clergy to create baptism-style ceremonies for transgender people to welcome them into the Anglican faith.It is stressed that the new ‘Affirmation of Baptism’ stops short of actual baptism. That would be a step too far even for Anglicans, for the moment at least. We can, however, remember how homosexuals campaigned for civil partnerships giving constant assurances that they didn’t want marriage. How did that turn out? There are very short odds on pressure for re-baptism in Anglican churches being just around the corner.
The guidance on how to apply the Welby Wobble was issued on Tuesday morning. Everything was clearly prepared and ready to go. When it comes to self-harm, the CofE knows neither bounds nor hesitation.
The guidance details how elements including water and oil can be incorporated into the new service, called the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. As a central part, the minister lays his or her hands on the candidate or candidates, addresses them by their new name, and prays for them.
The guidance notes: ‘For a trans person to be addressed liturgically by the minister for the first time by their chosen name may be a powerful moment in the service.’ Clergy are also advised that they may present the new man or woman with gifts such as a Bible inscribed in their chosen name, or a certificate.
While the Church is clear that this does not constitute a second baptism, it explains that the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith enables people to ‘provides space for those who have undergone a major transition to re-dedicate their life to Jesus Christ’. Being ‘born again’ has clearly taken on a new meaning in the CofE.
The big worry for many of us, however, is how are the CofS going to respond if they are to retake their lead? Now that’s a thought to strike fear into any Christian’s heart.