It’s easy to mock the communiqués that come out of the recent Primates’ meeting. There is a call for a ‘season of prayer of repentance and reconciliation’, and one might ask when is not a season of prayer of repentance and reconciliation?
There are bits that sound like a conflated discussion of security in Northern Ireland and Harvey Weinstein when it speaks ‘deliberate non-consensual cross-border activity’. Then there is the shocking news that actions (the Scots allowing same-sex marriage in church) have ‘consequences’, expect that these ‘consequences’ are imposed on the Scots (‘no more meetings for you, then’) and not just happy couples being married.
Not only did Britain vote to leave Europe: it seems we can’t even negotiate with it. We seem overconfident that we can push our weight around and get what we want, while unable to take other Europeans seriously.
Why? Do we really think the British are so superior to everyone else? Or is it just the English? Is England revealing its cultural failings?
In Alastair Campbell’s interview with him in GQ Magazine, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, admits ‘copping out’ on the question of whether gay sex is sinful – his Tim Farron moment.
Archbishop Justin also admitted that reconciling the views of those in liberal Anglican Churches with those of churches such as Uganda and other ‘GAFCON’ Churches for whom the issue of same-sex relationships is a ‘red line’ matter, is impossible: ‘It is irreconcilable’. When challenged by Campbell on whether his response to same-sex relationships (however faithful, stable and loving they are) was ‘morally a cop-out’, the Archbishop responded: ‘Yes. I am copping out because I am struggling with the issue’.
This is an edited version of the talk I gave at St Denys Bookshop in Manchester, on 30th September. It describes my new book Why Progressives Need God, and why I wrote it.
My background is in liberal theology. For quite a while I’ve been an active member of Modern Church, a liberal society in the Church of England. My main focus is philosophy and ethics, so I ask questions like: do we need to believe in God? Does it make any difference? I think it does.