Essay / Theology

Why the Church of England Fell

My own comments inserted in lovely Packer Green. Liberal and weak clergy blamed for empty pews (U.K.)The Times (U.K.) ^ | March 05, 2005 | Ruth Gledhill Posted on 03/07/2005 9:13:24 AM PST by nickcarraway CHURCHGOING is in freefall in Britain because clergy and ministers are failing to stand up for moral values and treasured beliefs, a new survey has found. A follow up study has discovered that over eating makes people obese. Future studies hope to examine the link between membership in the Democrat Party and small family size. Churches are being “silent” and “lukewarm” in the face of moral and social collapse, according to the £20,000, year-long study of 14,000 British churchgoers and those who have left the Church. The next time someone suggest any manner of “up dating” of the Church in order to attract the youth of America copy this story and hand it to them. British Christianity destroyed itself in order to re-invent itself for a new generation. Here is a good rule: Don’t offend your core customer base (see Disney’s California Adventure with its lack of rides for children) while attemting to get a group that will never come your way. (Let’s turn off the growing number of conservative, homeschooled young people in order to vainly try to reach the hedonist!) Researchers found “a widespread sense of anger and frustration” at what was happening to churches in the UK and Ireland. The 42-page report is an indictment of modern preaching and worship, illustrating how excessive liberalism and lack of conviction are driving worshippers from the pews. The report portrays a desire for sermons based on the Bible and traditional teaching, rather than on politics, social affairs or audience-pleasing stunts. Who would have thought that people who come to Church want the Bible and tradition? The goal to get everyone in Church may be to blame. If you are in the “in crowd,” then there is a deep urge to get the rest of the “in crowd” to go to Church with you. It shames you to see all those Church ladies and badly dressed men. Of course, the Church ladies had the children that sustain the culture and the badly dressed men were the Tommies that saved England in World War II. I love to have people over to my house for dinner. We try to accomodate their desires and not offend them. On the other hand, they are coming to my house. They expect things to be “different.” In the same way, Church can welcome guests, but does not have to kow-tow to their desires. Being hospitable does not mean that you quit being who you are. Feminism (more than anything else) killed the church in Britian. See The Death of Christian Britain. The report calls for better apologetics and Christian teaching, and claims that many clergy are unable to mount a convincing argument in defence of Christianity and are not interested in trying. When asked to explain why Christianity might be true, the common response is: “It is just a matter of faith.” We are here to serve. The report says: “This has resulted in a growing number of people being left with the false impression that there are no strong reasons for Christian belief. Ultimately they abandon churchgoing and are mystified that Christianity continues to grow elsewhere in the world.” Richard Swinburne is British. Have most British Christian heard of him? I suspect most Church leaders in Britain fear making arguments that Christianity is true, because it will disconcert their tony friends who are not Christian. The report blames the contemporary practice of teaching the universal nature of God’s love. Because people believe God will continue to love them no matter what they do, they no longer see any need to go to church to confess their sins or seek guidance on how to change their lives. The aim was to explore the reasons why Christianity is in decline in Britain and Ireland but thrives in other parts of the world, including prosperous countries such as the US. Researchers found that the thousands of people who still do go to church do so out of a sense of duty and not because it brings them any fulfilment. They report widespread criticism of the current fashion for “family” or “all age” services for bordering on entertainment rather than worship. One Shropshire churchgoer said: “I’ve seen balloons rising from the pulpit, fake moustaches and all manner of audience appeal . . . but with no real message behind it.” No comment is really needed. Clownish tricks may work in the short term in places like the USA with a large number of curious half-churched people that can be tricked into Church by stunts. However, these folk do not form the core of any Church. At the same time, abandoning the core convictions of the faith will drive away the people who make the Church go. As to theology: telling people there is no reason to be a Christian and that God (if there is one) will love them even if they don’t believe in him is not unlike selling a product where you claim in the advertising that there is no reason to buy it and that the company will be sending it to you for free in any case next week. Sigh. Instead, churchgoers want to be told how to live a Christian life, and to understand how to evangelise in a society distracted by materialism. The report correlates statistics from the past 150 years showing attendance rising in the last half of the 19th century and peaking around 1905 before going into steady decline, with an inverse trend of crime, drunkenness and illegitimacy falling to a low at the turn of the 19th century and then steadily rising.The Death of Christian Britain puts the entire process within the context of a single decade. It relates to the acceptance out-loud of liberalism and feminism in the Church.

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