A 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.

Bishop 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.

The Revd 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.

Return to: Colin Buchanan's argument: Surely we should disestablish?
Return to: Timothy Yates' argument:     Should we disestablish?