response to Colin Buchanan from Timothy Yates
I am grateful
to Bishop Buchanan and the editor of Anvil for sending me this article in
advance of publication for comment. There is clearly a great danger and temptation
in such circumstances to seek the last word! In general I want to steadfastly
resist this kind of response and ask readers to weigh the two cases by, if
necessary, returning to my earlier piece after reading this one. At one point
only I want to correct what I believe to be a misrepresentation.
Buchanan is correct that Adrian Hastings' Prideaux lectures were against 'monism'
and in favour of 'dualism'. This, however, did not make him an opponent of
establishment as we have it in England. For him, there had been a crucial
shift in the 1960s and 1970s during Michael Ramsey's period as archbishop,
indeed '"revolution" is not too exaggerated a word', not least in the winning
from Parliament of the church's right to order its own worship but in the
gains from the Chadwick Report of 1970 (as he saw it) and over the appointment
of bishops. To Hastings, this had inaugurated an era of what he calls 'a healthy
dualism' which was not 'in principle Erastian'. He remained uneasy about the
Prime Minister's place in the appointment of bishops, despite the gains of
the 1970s, but was in favour of a constitution which included bishops in the
House of Lords, and was firmly against disestablishment as a dangerous break
with the religious history of the nation and a serious psychological shift
for both clergy and laity in terms of a sense of national responsibility.
This form of what he also called a 'weak establishment' meant that for non-Anglicans
like himself, or non-Christians in Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Jewish communities,
establishment could remain 'as a public symbol of the importance of religion'.
It is open to Anvil readers to read Hastings' fourth lecture for themselves
and determine whether he is fairly represented by Bishop Buchanan as a 'very
thin witness' for retaining establishment. I continue to see him as a well-informed,
independent and weighty advocate for the establishment case.
Canon Timothy Yates retired as Canon Emeritus of Derby Cathedral in 2000.
He was chairman of the Editorial Board of Anvil from 1991 to 2001.
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