Tony & Patricia Higton

Tony Higton: Tony has been an Anglican Clergyman in Newark, Cheltenham, Essex, Jerusalem and near King’s Lynn.  God has blessed the ministry with remarkable growth in numbers and depth. The church development strategies and resources on this site issued from this experience and have been shared by Tony and Patricia at conferences around the world.

For 14 years Tony took a stand for biblical doctrine and morality in the General Synod and frequently witnessed on TV, radio and in the press.  He has also written several books, as has his wife Patricia.

Later he became General Director of the Church’s Ministry amongst Jewish People (CMJ), and also Rector of Christ Church, Jerusalem. In addition to evangelism, he emphasised reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. His Paradox email newsletter (tony@higton.info) informs Christians to pray, taking the need, pain and fears of both sides seriously.

Patricia Higton: Patricia is a theological graduate and author and was an RE teacher. She has fulfilled many parochial roles including parish prayer co-ordinator and evangelism co-ordinator. She became mission co-ordinator developing what became Time Ministries International – a church development ministry.  She ministered directly to 1000 churches and produced resources for hundreds more, organising and co-leading with Tony conferences for clergy and lay leaders on church development, in 14 countries in addition to the UK.

She became a Reader in the Church of England and has ministered in three parishes, leading a congregation in two of them. In Jerusalem she was Prayer Coordinator for the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people, edited their publications and she managed Christ Church Centre.

Tony and Patricia have now retired from stipendiary ministry but assist in rural parishes in the Diocese of Ely and created this website, employing the Church Website Design Project as webmaster.

12 Thoughts on “Tony & Patricia Higton

  1. Jim Givan on May 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm said:

    HI I picked up your book “Prophesy” some time ago, but just got round to reading it on the bus today. The end of chapter 7 was a great encouragement to me as to why you stayed within the CofEconsidering what happened at the recent General Asembly of the Church of Scotland, of which I am a member, elder and Reader.
    We are called to be salt and light and as a reader in the CofS I have the oppertunity to preach the “Word” most Sundays.If we leave, removing the salt and light, the church will rot and the people will be in darkness. How shall they hear without a preacher? I agree that Paul never told the saints to leave the church but work at getting the church back to the Truth. Thanks for your encouragement for me today even although the words were written in 1998. May God continue to bless your ministry.
    In Christ Jesus
    Jim Givan

    • Thank you for your message, Jim. I’m glad the book was helpful and that others have downloaded the book from this website (http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/Prophesy.pdf).

      You are, of course, referring to the General Assembly recently approving the ordination of practising homosexual ministers. I emphasise the word “practising” because there should be no bar to ordination for those who are simply homosexual by orientation but are not involved in homosexual behaviour. See http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/biblehomosexualpractice.pdf and http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/homosexualityandthechurch.pdf

      I respect the consciences of those who feel they must leave a church because of wrong teaching or practice. However, I think the principle of the incarnation is relevant, i.e. involvement even in the midst of sin in order to witness to the truth. There is a saying in England: “Most people in England don’t go to church. But it is the Church of England they don’t go to!” In other words, they still regard themselves as in some sense “C of E”. If they do turn to the church it will be the C of E they turn to. This is a strategic fact of life and means that, in England, the C of E has opportunities to reach people outside the church, which other denominations don’t. Obviously, I’m not saying that out of some Anglican sense of superiority – I’m simply stating fact. I don’t know if it is the same in Scotland with the Church of Scotland, but I imagine it is. On the negative side, it would therefore be tragic for the population if the church lost those who teach and practice the truth. On the positive side, I think such ministers have a great opportunity.

  2. Jack Thomson on August 28, 2013 at 8:45 am said:

    Tony,
    Your response to Jim Givan has an apparent rationale at a natural, human level – but God’s advice to those who find themselves in the midst of unbelievers is to stop fellowshipping with them:
    Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

    “I will live with them
    and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

    Therefore,

    “Come out from them
    and be separate,
    says the Lord.
    Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

    And,

    “I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
    says the Lord Almighty.”

    2 Corinthians 6/14-18

    Yes/No ?

  3. Thank you for your comment, Jack. Obviously we have to take Paul’s teaching seriously. But, before we draw conclusions about it we need to seek to be clear about his meaning. Paul was speaking of unbelievers but my comment and your response was about misguided or heretical believers within the church too.
    How did Paul separate from unbelievers/false believers?

    a. Paul spoke strongly against the false teaching the Judaizers in the church who said that even the Gentiles could not be saved without being circumcised (see Acts 15:1-11). In Galatians 5:2-11 Paul said:
    “If you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love …. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!”

    He condemned Judaizers yet he had Timothy circumcised because they were visiting areas with Jewish people in them (Acts 16:1-5). Was he compromising with, rather than separating from, those who were undermining the gospel?

    b. Because of the allegiance which Jewish believers in Jerusalem had towards circumcision and other Jewish ritual, Paul joined in the temple ritual with four men who were under a temporary Nazirite vow (Acts 21:20-26). They went through various purification rites and shaved their heads on the 7th day. Then they presented offerings in the temple. The norm was a male lamb, a ewe and cereal and drink offerings. Paul joined with them in these purification rites and paid for their animal sacrifices. He did this to show he was not teaching Jewish people to abandon circumcision etc. So he was:
    • Affirming acceptance of circumcision for Jews
    • Supporting animal sacrifices etc.,
    • Supporting Jewish believers in attending the Temple, which excluded Gentile believers and maintained the “the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between Jew and Gentile which Christ had destroyed (Eph 2:14-16).
    Again, was he compromising with, rather than separating from, those who were undermining the gospel?

    Actually, on both of these occasions Paul, rather than separate himself, found good reason to “live dangerously” on the ground of the Judaizers (so to speak) for the sake of others even though he disagreed strongly with the Judaizers. A modern parallel might be to show kindness to homosexuals and oppose wrong attitudes towards them, whilst clearly disagreeing with gay sex. I had a lot of association with homosexuals during my campaigning days. I showed them courtesy and kindness whilst clearly disagreeing with them. I have done the same thing with liberals in the church. I think this is the principle of the Incarnation – God came to dwell amidst sinners (not separate from them) in order to save them. Jesus even showed particular honour to Judas at the last supper – giving him the piece of bread (John 13:26-27).
    How did Paul teach believers to separate from idolatry?

    He did not call for complete separation.

    a. He said it was acceptable to accept an invitation to an unbeliever’s home (1 Cor 10:27)

    b. He said it was acceptable to eat food offered to idols at home, but not in a pagan temple (1 Cor 10:25-30). However if the host said it had been offered to idols it was best to refuse it for the sake of the conscience of the host – to avoid giving him the impression one agreed with idolatry.
    How did Paul teach believers should separate from unbelievers in other ways?

    Paul said:

    a. It was acceptable for someone who became a believer to stay married to an unbeliever (1 Cor 7:12-14).

    b. Unbelievers were to be allowed to attend church meetings (1 Cor 14:22-25).
    What does Paul teach about church discipline?

    He says in 1 Cor 5:11-13: “I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. ….. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

    Paul is clearly speaking here about hypocrites: people who know what is right but do the opposite. However there are those who think what they believe is correct and act accordingly, but they are mistaken. These are not hypocrites. They may be those in theological error or, for example, those who believe God approves of homosexual sexual relationships. The latter do not believe they are indulging in sexual immorality so they are not acting hypocritically. I do not believe Paul is referring to such people in 1 Cor 5 and we should not treat them as hypocrites, even though we may express strong disapproval of their views.

    We have to draw the line carefully between what incorrect beliefs and behaviour we can tolerate (pending correcting them) and what is not tolerable. In my campaigning days I called for discipline for those (clergy and church teachers) who denied credal doctrine (the virgin birth and resurrection). I also spoke against interfaith worship where Christians joined with other faiths in worship which contradicted the gospel. Then I called for the church to reaffirm its beliefs that sexually activity outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful. I believe all these matters are beyond the line which we can tolerate if someone persists in them despite their errors being explained to them.

    I spent a lot of time in the early eighties wondering if we should leave the Church of England because of its errors. I mixed a great deal with what used to be called the housechurches in those days. We got virtually to the point of deciding to leave when God unexpectedly gave me a clear call “to stay put but not to stay quiet.” I was very ‘noisy’ for the next 15 years, at national level, until I moved to be CEO of CMJ and ultimately to minister in Jerusalem.

    There could still be a time when it might be necessary to re-consider leaving the denomination, if serious errors were embraced.

    However, Paul in 1 Cor 5 was speaking on the level of the local church. If I am in authority in the local church it is my responsibility to correct, and even discipline those in serious error and we have done that on a fair number of occasions over the years (with as much patience and encouragement as possible to the person in error in the process). But such discipline cannot be limited to ‘popular’ subjects like homosexuality. It has to include the slanderer, the greedy and the swindler etc. I think if we excluded all those in the church guilty of slander (negative gossip and unfounded criticism) the church would lose quite a lot of people! But we have to be consistent.

    I hope I have shown that, taken in the general context of the NT (which is essential to good interpretation), 2 Cor 6:14-18 cannot be taken in a simple black and white sense of separating from all unbelievers outside or inside the church. We have to seek the Lord’s detailed wisdom and guidance as to how to work it out in practice. Sometimes, following Paul, it is not appropriate to separate from people, even when strongly disagreeing with them.

  4. Chris Enwerem on May 15, 2014 at 9:12 pm said:

    Hi Tony ,
    Do you have idea of a book – the theology of Hope by Jurgen Moltmann? What do you think about the work

    • I have read Moltmann’s book, Chris. It is well-worth reading and is very stimulating academic theology. I like the fact that Moltmann:
      • regards eschatology and hope as central to Christianity
      • is Christocentric in his eschatology
      • stresses that hope as essential to faith
      • relates his eschatology to suffering in the world (influenced by his experience of war and of being a prisoner of war) and stresses hope and promise in the midst of such suffering and oppression whilst stressing the importance of opposing oppression etc.

  5. Chris Lazell on January 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm said:

    Hi Tony

    Read your comments above (to Jack) really miss your wonderful teaching

  6. Matthew Vincent on February 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm said:

    Hi Tony, I haven’t read your teaching before, but I am very impressed by your thoughtful and biblical response to whether you should be seperate from the Church of England. Very interesting comments on Paul.
    I grew up in Anglican churches, spent much of my life in them and am now AOG.. I have come to the conclusion that we need to hear and obey God and His particular guidance. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it is difficult for someone to look in from outside and make a judgement. I grew up around the time that the house church movement was very strong, and do understand there arguments, but I commend you for obeying God and staying put but not staying silent. The easy thing may well have been to leave, and maybe miss an aspect of your particular calling.

    • Tony Higton on February 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm said:

      Thank you, Matthew. Yes, I’m quite sure God wanted me to exercise a prophetic witness in the General Synod and elsewhere at a time when unhelpful liberal theology seemed to gaining the ascendancy. I thank God we now have two godly archbishops and I am in a diocese where most of the hierarchy and many of the clergy are evangelical.

  7. Steve Cottam on August 20, 2016 at 5:25 am said:

    Tony

    just come across your website will be returning

    thank you for the hard work and thought that you clearly put into this site

    appreciate your Biblical, thoughtful, wise and honest assessments of the world we live in and are called to serve our Saviour in

    every blessing

    Steve

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