What is the Bishop of Oxford thinking?

Nov 4, 2022 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford, yesterday published a booklet Together in Love and Faith, in which he sets out his thinking about same-sex relationships, and proposes that the Church of England should provide public services for the blessing of same-sex civil partnerships and marriages, but allow a conscience clause for those who dissent, and eventually conduct same-sex marriages. This is a view he shares with the three suffragans in the diocese, which is telling; despite most of the large churches being evangelical, Steven did not appoint any bishops who agree with the Church’s current doctrine. Steven realises that this will be divisive, and so proposes a structure of differentiation—something that he says the other three do not agree with.

I have known and worked with Steven on and off over the years, on Synod and Archbishops’ Council, and particularly in relation to ordination training. Up until now, he has only offered hints about his thinking, and his change of direction on this issue, and so it is helpful to now know where his thinking has got to. This short piece cannot offer a full critique of his booklet, but there is a similar length commentary by Vaughan Roberts, who leads St Ebbe’s, one of the largest churches in the diocese, available for free download from the Latimer Trust. I simply offer here some observations about some of the language used here and some of the arguments made…

…The Church has long been facing a decline in attendance, which is rapidly coming to a crisis point in many dioceses. At the same time, these dioceses were also already facing acute financial pressures, which were then exacerbated by Covid… At the same time, on a wider scale, the Anglican Communion appears to be in its dying days as a meaningful fellowship.

Into this context, Steven now wants to bring division and disunity. This will have a direct impact on confidence, on mission and growth, and on finance. It feels as if the good ship Church of England is running on one engine, listing to port, holed at or below the waterline—and Captain Croft wants to grab the helm and steer her onto the rocks.

Lord have mercy.

Read here

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