Heresy Trials

The official House of Laity has paved the way for heresy trials in the Church of England, as reported by the BBC in 10 things that could land your vicar in trouble.

I welcome the idea of heresy trials in the Church of England. I agree that the 39 Articles should not limit such trials, but nor should the Nicene Creed. The obvious starting point would be scripture. Probably the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus spoke about priests. In fact, heresy trials may not only sort out the clerical chaff from the wheat, but may produce renewed interest in this declining corporation. Heresy trials could bring the Church out of the nineteenth and into the new century in one bound if they were staged on TV. Unhappy congregations could petition for their vicar to be publicly tried. Instead of Songs of Praise, millions would tune in to see Ann Robinson asking hard-hitting questions — ‘Oh, come off it, surely there isn't any doubt in your mind as to who the Son of God was?’ Paul Merton could plunge the hapless losers into Room 101, where they could be publicly stripped of their benefices by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in full regalia. The Anglican Church should not miss this fantastic opportunity to win back social relevance.

February 2005