New Archbishop of York

I was recently in York, beholding that vast edifice which is the minster. It was last month announced that the 98th Archbishop of that province has been selected and will be enthroned there in June 2020. I have such low opinions and expectations of senior Anglican clerics, that he is unlikely to disappoint me. Their weather-vane religion, directed from whichever direction the prevailing wind blows, is so often at odds with the God whose ‘truth endureth to all generations.’

Speaking to the BBC, the Archbishop-elect said his priorities were:

‘Help[ing to make] the church more joyful and more effective in sharing the Gospel and bringing hope and unity to our nation’

‘Restoring faith in the Church in the wake of historic child abuse allegations’

‘being a voice for the North’

‘helping to address the discrepancies of wealth and opportunity that too often favour the South.’

Greater evangelism is a laudable goal, though inequalities of wealth within a rich nation is yet another episcopal foray into politics for which he has little popular mandate. Still, there are many Christians who might support this objective, and the others sound desirable too.

The Christian Institute reports more. Like most of the cardboard cut-outs from the bench of bishops, he tries to accommodate the culture’s fixation with sexuality by reinterpreting the Biblical material:

“But what we can do is recognise that what we know now about human development and human sexuality requires us to look again at those texts to see what they are actually saying to our situation, for what we know now is not what was known then.”

He goes on:

“I am not sure the church has ever before had to face the challenge of being seen as immoral by the culture in which it is set.”

Perhaps a further reading of history might refresh the good prelate’s memory. The early church was accused of treason for failing to offer sacrifice to the god-emperor of its day; the Lollards were considered a threat to social order; Bishops Hooper, Latimer and Ridley were executed by the state for their dangerous Protestant teaching; early Methodists were tarred as Jacobites and revolutionaries: need I continue?

Christianity’s harmony with the prevailing culture is an historic rarity, seldom encountered. A few times in our past, under Oliver Cromwell and Victoria Regina, one might say this occurred. But the generality of history sees the two at odds. This will be the case until Christ returns, when righteousness and government will once more unite on His shoulders.

I repeat, Bishop Cottrell does not disappoint me, he just confirms the stereotype of world-embracing social activists who, with a dose of sincere spirituality, wear with pride the bishop’s mitre. Still, I wish him well. Perhaps he will achieve some good.