Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sydney, Ordinations, Lay Presidency Coup D'Etat

In his public lecture on Cranmer and his biographers yesterday at Oxford University the great Professor Diarmaid MacCullouch made some fascinating and extraordinary comments about the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.

He said that a Sydney Evangelical Anglican had cited Cranmer as a supporter of the idea that a lay person could ordain clergy. This is perfectly true, although it was pointed out by Diarmaid that Cranmer thought the only layman with the power of ordination was the king. Doesn't seem to help too much with a case for lay presidency, which to my mind is possible but misguided.

MacCulloch refered to an extremist Coup-detat by Sydney Evangelicals (such as the unnamed Archbishop and Dean Jensens) who have completely taken over the diocese and are agressively reforming it.

Mary Ann Seighart made similar comments in The Times not so long ago and mentioned Oak Hill College, where Rev'd Professor David Peterson (a Sydney-sider) is Principal as a dangerous fundamentalist Militant-tendency 5th-Columnn in the C of E, an export of Sydney. There are all sorts of fallacies in this.

I spoke to MacCullouch afterwards about all this. He thinks the conservative evangelicals would like to take over the C of E too, but he admitted that they don't seem to be doing a very good job. He conceded that the Evangelical ascendency in Sydney was achieved through the normal and thoroughly democratic structures of the diocese. It can hardly be called a Coup D'etat in any reasonable sense. MacCulloch admitted that Coup D'etat might have been a bit strong. But it was very deliberate and clever use of politics. Nothing wrong with that: as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.

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