17.11.08

Turn 'bull' ish

I remember first watching Turnbull speak at the Derbyshire Reform Conference where he described the theological colleges in terms of the 2 + 4. St John's was one of those of which he disapproved and so, of course, I listened attentively. I became aware of his associations with Reform and then followed the resignations from Wycliffe. We now hear from Stephen Kuhrt how, 'Several senior evangelical clergy who had desperately wanted to make charitable assumptions about the problems at the Wycliffe were left speechless by the process they witnessed [at NEAC] which seemed to have finally opened their eyes to the reality of the situation there.'

I find Turnbull very puzzling.

More than that, I am puzzled as to why he bothers me so much.

Madeline on the fulcrum threads explains how: 'Turnbull not only got away with his actions at Wycliffe, but he was strengthened on the wider stage. Now, the moderate evangelicals are stuck with him expanding his power base and taking over even more areas of church life. His ability to ignore the decision of the meeting which did not want to motion put, and to take it to CEEC anyway is an indication of why people at Wycliffe found him impossible to work with.'

Ian Paul makes a very interesting contribution with:
the question was put very clearly on Saturday afternoon: 'Does it matter to you that many people here feel excluded and that CEEC does not speak for them. Are you worried about this and do you plan to do anything about it?' Richard gave a resounding 'NO' to both halves of the question.

What further worried me was the lack of any kind of theological reflection behind his comments. Is the question of the authority of the Bible an issue? Yes indeed--but at least as big an issue is the question of the *understanding* of the Bible, and yet this did not get a mention. To suggest that what the Bible says is clear as day to all concerned (both within and outside the church), and that the *only* question that matters is, are we going to do what it evidently says, is to fly in the face of pastoral experience, to ignore the pressing apologetic agenda of the contemporary scene, and to turn back 30 years of evangelical reflection on questions of interpretation.

The irony of all this is, given that the majority would likely have happily signed up to a less political but equally clear statement of support for evangelicals overseas, CEEC now looks like CECEC. Non-conservatives will turn elsewhere for a voice, and Richard by his action will have strengthened the sense of three streams which he detests so much.

It reminds me of the Reform agenda - to be a 'grass roots 'movement and slowly infiltrate organisations and Synod 2010 so that their agenda can be pursued. I remember speaking to my husband about it, about a year ago and he would reassure me that they are such a small influence that they are bound not to have the influence that they presume but it would seem that they are growing stronger.


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