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A CHURCH FOR WHOM?

The Church of England has designated this coming Sunday as a Back to Church day. http://www.cofe.anglican.org/news/pr8609.html

A CofE Bishop is exasperated by what he believes to be a common view that the church is for the well-heeled and educated. For as long as I can remember there has been an emphasis on both sides of the ditch on people who are perceived to have intellectual doubts about the core teachings of the church. Not only has this seemed to become the sole missionary thrust of our church, it is has become fashionable for Anglicans in the West to pride themselves on parading their doubts. It is little wonder that we have become narrowly a church peopled by and speaking to and for intellectuals.

Now of course our faith requires us to use our minds and reason. Christianity is a reasonable faith. But it is a faith for everyone whatever their gifts and talents. If we eschew our mission to all we become a faith for a few. And that we have become. We talk about the poor and the less educated as subjects for our charity but not objects of our mission. Jesus is presented as a subject for deconstruction and not as Saviour and Lord.

We train our clergy to be experts in “criticism” and leave them with no common vocabulary or contact with ordinary folk.  We have nothing to say to those who read the sports page, who drive trucks, work in fast food places, and look after our daily lives in stores and supermarkets. Even “evangelicals” in the United States concentrate on the politically conservative middle class. We cheerfully consign the rest to the mission of fundamentalist groups.

It is little wonder that most people see the church as irrelevant to life and the harsh reality of relationships and survival. How ironic is this for a church which once embraced the whole “village” and was identified by its place at the center of community life?

One Response

  1. In my Anglican days that partly manifested itself as a failure to distinguish between “theological education” and “training for ministry”. There were endless debates about the content of theological education, which usually never got anywhere because they would say “But first we must ask ourselves ‘What is a priest?'” and that debate took up all the time, and though it never reached a conclusion the underlying assumption was that a priest is a polymath (deacons and bishops never entered the picture).

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