Anglican Samizdat

May 22, 2009

An agnostic bishop in the Anglican Church

Filed under: Anglican,bishops gone wild — David Jenkins @ 12:20 am
Tags: ,

Only one, I expect you are thinking; well, only one that has come out:

Richard Holloway says the worldwide Anglican Church has made room for “happy clapping” evangelicals, bells-and-smells Catholics, women priests and, in the United States, openly gay clergy and even practitioners of other faiths. So surely, he argues, it can find room for people like him – Christians who don’t believe in God.

Holloway, contrary to popular belief, has not left the Episcopal Church, as Scottish Anglicanism is known. He may have taken early retirement as Bishop of Edinburgh but the writer remains an ordained priest and consecrated bishop, who still preaches from the pulpit, performs baptisms and weddings and even presides at communion.

“I had a crisis in 1998 and I was in a kind of internal exile for a bit,” he told the Herald yesterday, while en route to Sydney, where he is a speaker at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

“I am in a slightly mellower place with the church right now. I’ve still got my pilot’s licence, so to speak. They didn’t take it away from me.”

But Holloway has abandoned his belief in – or at least certainty about – God and the afterlife, and is now known as a “Christian agnostic”.

“I am not trying to persuade people in the church to adopt my angle,” he insists. “I just want space enough to be honest about my own convictions. The congregation I belong to in Edinburgh knows my position and is hospitable enough to include me.”

And inclusion is what it’s all about, after all.

The resonance with prevailing cultural conceits is evident: Richard wants space to be honest, the honesty is simply an angle and he has no interest in proselytising his particular angle. There is, of course, plenty of space in the Anglican church – mainly because there are plenty of other places other than churches where agnostics can congregate on Sunday; the question is, why doesn’t the retired bishop join them?

I have to give the man full marks for honesty, though: he admits he doesn’t believe in God, an afterlife, Jesus’ divinity, thinks the Eucharist is art and the church a social club. The average Canadian bishop believes as much but doesn’t have the guts to openly admit it.


1 Comment

  1. an honest wolf then?

    Comment by Gawk — May 22, 2009 @ 9:05 am

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