Whenever anyone says such-and-such a church/organisation/club/government of which they are a member “lacks leadership”, it’s almost certain that what they really mean is “the current leadership aren’t doing things my way. Similarly, whenever clergy say “this is like the Reformation” it’s a safe bet that what they’re actually saying “I want you to compare me to Martin Luther”. Not that there’s anything wrong per se with this, when it comes to generating a little self-publicity the truth is I’ve used this schtick myself to great effect on a number of occasions. It’s just that lately everyone’s been trying to use this act.
Back in the day the only person other than me working the reformation “back to the future” routine was Robert Schuller, although then he claimed God had inspired the design of his Crystal Cathedral, and everyone realized there’s no way the Holy Spirit’s spent that much time in Vegas.
Then Bishop Spong tried playing the act from the other side of the stage, but to make the “new reformation” number work successfully you can’t muck around with being warm and friendly. The people who get into all that 16th century machismo love a bully, and if you’re not threatening warfare and hellfire they just won’t start cheering. Meanwhile less testosterone-besotted members of the audience lose interest, and can’t understand why someone should think that Christianity’s golden age was a time in history when “quality family time” included taking the kiddies to see a public execution.
Now the latest clerical hoofer to try their luck at this old chestnut is little Bishop Nozey-Wally of Rochester. Since everyone knows the poor chap has never recovered from a serious bout of constipation which struck when he was passed over for the big pointy hat in Canterbury a few years back, it’s a wonder anyone takes him seriously at all. Still, played well the “next great reformation” has some life left, and since he’s working it for a crowd of evangelicals it’s not as if the audience is too discerning, as shown by a Telegraph article which the Reform faithful must be jostling to have autographed. Quite frankly, however I’m found the show disappointing. The only twist on the old script comes in a very funny one-liner: “No Church can be effective without discipline.” - a piece of impro I wouldn’t have thought old Nozey capable of.
Even funnier is the fact that none of his audience seemed to realize that anyone authoritarian enough to clamp down on ECUSA in the way that English conservative evangelicals would like would also come down on them like a ton of bricks for their own continued whining and lack of respect. And what that sort of tyrant would do to little Pete Jensen and his lay-presiding relatives doesn’t bear thinking about. At very least it would mean all the Reform evangelicals hoping it’ll soon be their turn for a nicely subsidized trip to Sydney (or maybe even a juicy post-graduate scholarship at little Pete’s famous Bible barn) could abandon that particular dream. And then where could they hope the next lot of manna might fall from – Our Lady of Walsingham, perhaps?
I'm Father Christian and I teach the Bible.