This is topic Church of England may bring back heresy trials in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by digging_holes (Member # 6237) on :
From The Times :

CLERGY who deny the Virgin Birth or the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ will be tried as heretics under a new measure voted on yesterday at the General Synod of the Church of England.

The measure could also be used to try clergy who preach liberal doctrines on homosexuality from the pulpit.


Clergy suspected of error would be reported by parishioners to their bishops, who would investigate them and, if action was deemed necessary, would bring them to trial before a tribunal of bishops, theologians and laity, chaired by a legally qualified person.

Ultimately, a heretic clergyman or woman could be removed from office — in effect defrocked. But a bishop could also dismiss a complaint as malicious or frivolous.

The bishops are understood to be sympathetic to the call from the laity, and heresy trials are expected to come back before the synod in 2006.

I think this is a fabulous idea. People who want to preach things that are contrary to Christianity should not be doing so in Christian pulpits. It would seem the Anglican Church has finally realized this.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Posted by digging_holes (Member # 6237) on :
I'm pretty confident that burnings at the stake will not be involved.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
Now that just takes all the fun out of heresy trials.
Posted by bunbun (Member # 6814) on :
Get the comfy chair!
Posted by Bob_Scopatz (Member # 1227) on :
I think this is a fabulous idea. People who want to preach things that are contrary to Christianity should not be doing so in Christian pulpits. It would seem the Anglican Church has finally realized this.
Well...really it's people who are representing this particular denomination being in trouble for preaching a message that is not sanctioned by the denomination.

And what would happen to them is being barred from preaching to other Anglicans.

Seems like a recipe for more schism, not less. But then, I'm pretty sure that a really determined heretic is probably just what Christianity needs every few centuries.
Posted by Kwea (Member # 2199) on :
It is a joke, and not a funny one. It is obviously intended to try to reign in the American Crergy, particulaily the ones who marry gays.

Makes me sad that I converted to it, and I doubt it will do anything other than further divide people.

Posted by digging_holes (Member # 6237) on :
But then, I'm pretty sure that a really determined heretic is probably just what Christianity needs every few centuries.
Actually, I agree with you, because denouncing a heresy helps to solidify and strengthen the church. All the more reason to have heresy trials.

And by the way, the virgin birth and bodily ressurrection of Jesus Christ are most definitely not doctrines confined to this denomination. They (especially the second one) are absolutely fundamental to Christian belief.
Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
NH actually has a lot of problems with the appointed Episcopalian bishop being openly gay. Problems in terms of churches closing or leaving the church. Very unpleasant.
Posted by Bob_Scopatz (Member # 1227) on :
DH...yes, but the Anglicans aren't talking about anything but what their own ministers can and can't do.

There are no punishments outside of the confines of that denomination that will fall to those they label as heretics.

Whether something is a central tenet of all Christianity or not is irrelevant to the trials that will take place regarding heretics in the Anglican church. It's all about whether or not one teaches what the church says you should teach.

And...what determined whether some idea (like doubting Jesus' resurrection) is heresy has changed over the years. There were some early on who said that Jesus was devine up to just before the moment of his death, at which point the divine inhabitant of his mortal body left. Then, what was left cried out "my God, my God, why have You forsaken me.."

The reason this is heresy is because a group of people got together and decided that it was. God didn't scrawl a burning message into the side of a nearby granite outcropping to get the point across. People who didn't like the idea outnumbered those who did like it. And so, it's a heresy.

A few hundred years later, the Protestant reformers selected some doctrines that defined their nascent denominations. The Anglican, being mainly the British inheritor or all things Catholic, minus the papacy, weren't very much into rejecting many of the mother church's doctrines at the beginning. They've had their revisions over time, but the conservative movement within that denomination is fighting back from what they see as the brink of becoming an "anything goes" kind of denomination.

Nothing wrong with stating their principles.

Nothing wrong with insisting that those who draw a paycheck from them and preach in their churches adhere to the stated doctrine.

But anyone who is not Anglican but believes that a person is a heretic because the Anglican church says they are is missing the fact that denominations differ and that the only central tenet of Christianity is that Jesus is Christ, the Lord, our God.

Believe're Christian. Don't believe're not.
Posted by digging_holes (Member # 6237) on :
Bob, you're being quite picky for nothing. Of course the Anglican Church will not say anything to those outside the Anglican Church, nor should it, nor does it want to. It has no authority outside of itself, and I'm not suggesting that it should have. But this stems from a very real concern about clergy who have been openly denying the most fundamental teachings of the Anglican Church specifically, and Christianity as a whole. It's good to see them finally taking a stand.

And Bob...

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."

-- 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

This is an issue that was addressed right at the beginning of the church. It doesn't matter what the time period is, denying the bodily ressurrection of Jesus is heresy and contrary to biblical doctrine. You can believe it if you want, but if you do, you should not be any kind of clergy in any Christian denomination.

[ February 15, 2005, 07:52 PM: Message edited by: digging_holes ]
Posted by Teshi (Member # 5024) on :
It just means more splintering, that's all. The One Holy Apostolic and Catholic church is still searching for which "one" is the right "one".

Posted by mackillian (Member # 586) on :
The one Truth in the many truths?
Posted by dkw (Member # 3264) on :
It is a joke, and not a funny one. It is obviously intended to try to reign in the American Clergy, particulaily the ones who marry gays.
I doubt it, since according to the quote anyway, it applies only to the Church of England, not the entire Anglican Communion.
Posted by Teshi (Member # 5024) on :
The one Truth in the many truths?

If there is one.

Back to the drawing board...
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
I don't see a problem with this. The way I look at it, clergy are at least partly salesmen -- and if my Pepsi salespeople are telling everyone that Coke tastes better, I should be within my rights to fire 'em.

The reason people get uneasy about this is two-fold:

1) Historically, we did more than fire turncoat Pepsi salespeople. We tortured and killed them. You may recall the Cola Wars.

2) Clergy, unlike salespeople, also function as truth-tellers and councilors and the like. In many cases, adherence to a given religion's doctrine may appear to both clergyman and parishoners to make the other jobs of a clergyman -- comfort, council, etc. -- more difficult and/or a harder sell. While you can argue that they should then leave for another church that lacks these problems, there are economic and spiritual inefficiencies in the system that often prevent this. To continue the analogy, it would be like if, in addition to selling Pepsi, Pepsi salespeople were also doctors. They may find that their diabetic and obese patients would be better served drinking something else, but Pepsi would still have the right to fire them if they recommended Dasani. (Note, however, that in the real world Pepsi gets around this problem by marketing its OWN brand of expensive tap water; I strongly suspect that the first church that manages to be everything to everyone while maintaining its branding will do very well.)
Posted by Mabus (Member # 6320) on :
Kwea, since you brought it up...why do so many people think religious division is, always and in every case, a bad thing?

Don't get me wrong--I would much rather Christianity were whole, undivided, and pure. But I have always believed that religious truth is not fundamentally different from other kinds of truth. If two models of, say, quantum mechanics appear to be equally good (or bad) descriptions of reality, no one loses sleep that some scientists support one and some the other. Conversely, if some scientists support a third model that seems to be inconsistent with the data, no one sweats over the condescension or annoyance other scientists might show them.

So it is with religion. We, too, seek truth. If there is room for legitimate difference of opinion, what is the harm in disagreement? And if there is not, why should it disturb us to exclude people who hold to error?
Posted by Bob_Scopatz (Member # 1227) on :
Tom, I've not heard the denominations described in just that way before. [ROFL]

digging...I see your point, but you seem to be cheering them on like this somehow strikes a blow for Christianity in general, which it most certainly does not. It's an internal thing for the CofE and they are welcome to it. I think it's just possible that their denomination will grow as a result of deciding to punish people over matters of doctrine. When parishioners lose a favored preacher because that person doesn't line up well enough with the overall church, there will be a definite movement in the opposite direction away from this "trial for heresy" business.

Many protestant denominations are far less rigid in their overall doctrinal statements and they manage just fine. Others are far more strict and they too seem to manage.

Where there are problems is when change needs to be managed. And that, to me, is what really separates the different brands of Christianity. Some have major meetings of clergy and lay persons to hash out all sorts of issues (internal as well as how the church relates to the larger society). Others have no mechanism for change and tend to break apart from their own centrifugal force.

Either way, this will not be about CHRISTIANITY, writ large. It'll be about the Church of England figuring out whether to change and if so, how much.
Posted by mothertree (Member # 4999) on :
I'm still not following whether the initial quote was a joke or not.

So there haven't been any heresy trials since when? Has there really been no discipline on heresy in the last 50 years or 100 years or whatever?
Posted by ghost of dkw (Member # 4046) on :
The last formal heresy trial in the Church of England was in 1847.

That does not mean there was no discipline on heresy, just that it was handled without going to a full scale trial.
Posted by digging_holes (Member # 6237) on :
digging...I see your point, but you seem to be cheering them on like this somehow strikes a blow for Christianity in general, which it most certainly does not.
You seem determined to misunderstand me, Bob.

I am cheering this on because it is great news from within the Anglican church. I am cheering this on because it is getting its act together. When you have clergy who don't even believe in God in a supposedly Christian denomination, you have a problem. They are fixing very big booboos in their church, and I am happy for them. This is a victory for Anglicans. As a fellow Christian (not, however, Anglican,) I am very happy to see this.
Posted by Scott R (Member # 567) on :
I've resisted one whole day.

I cannot resist longer.


Ximinez: Now, old woman -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action -- *four* counts. Do you confess?
Wilde: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Biggles! Fetch...THE CUSHIONS!


[Biggles holds out two ordinary modern household cushions]

Biggles: Here they are, lord.
Ximinez: Now, old lady -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly -- *two* last chances. And you shall be free -- *three* last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Wilde: I don't know what you're talking about.
Ximinez: Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!

[Biggles carries out this rather pathetic torture]

Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: It doesn't seem to be hurting her, lord.
Ximinez: Have you got all the stuffing up one end?
Biggles: Yes, lord.
Ximinez [angrily hurling away the cushions]: Hm! She is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fang! Fetch...THE COMFY CHAIR!

[Big Grin]
Posted by Shan (Member # 4550) on :
*is laughing a lot*

*believes this is good as she overslept and was groggy and can now perhaps function better*

*thinks TomD and BobS have wonderfully funny things to say about religion in general and heresy in particular - decides to drink Pepsi today*

[Big Grin]
Posted by dh (Member # 6929) on :
*is a Pepsi apostate, recently converted to Dr. Pepper*

*is currently drinking Pepsi, as there was no more Dr. Pepper left at the corner store*

*feels no guilt*

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