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April 29, 2007

A tricky question .....

A friend sent me a link to a discussion forum with the question as to whether or not I would like to comment. The questions is "Have the mainstream churches lost their way?" I responded as follows:

I am unable to post a reply as I am not a "member" of this forum, but I think you may wish to use the following: -

As a member of the Ministry Team of a "Mainstream" Church, I would reply to the original charge by pointing out that the Media seldom quote the Archbishops or Bishops in their entireity, if they did many of their supposedly "loony" statements would immediately be seen as a lot less contentious. But then, only contention and apparently "loony" statements sell newspapers. The CofE certainly does not support the taking of life, slavery or any other form abuse of human rights to life or liberty. Abortion is and will always be a highly emotional issue, one full of difficulties, such as "is it right to allow the foetus to destroy the mother?" - a very real medical question in some cases. Note that I say "some" cases. I do not think you will find anyone in any Christian community who supports "abortion on demand".

There is a long running campaign among the political classes in this country (and I include the Civil Service in that) to destroy the Christian Church or to have it so weakened that it can no longer provide people with an alternative view to the world of materialism they wish to present. A world which would give them control over ever aspect of our lives, including the dictation of what is and is not "moral". It is a well known and very well used technique which goes back a long, long way in our history but the most successful examples of its use are the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Thus far they have successfully undermined morality, the family and the British nation, now they promote "multi-culturalism" and "Equality of Faiths" as a way to denigrate all faith.

Few serious Churchmen subscribe to the view that all faiths are the same, this liberal theology held sway briefly in the 1990's but was soon seen to be a contradiction of the Gospel message. Interestingly the "revelations" of the Gospel of Judas show us a world the politicians would dearly love to have - since the Gnostic "vision" which inspired this work is a very materialistic one, one which would exactly suit the Socialist Government we now have. If the Churches wanted to "sell out" they need do no more than adopt this gospel as their message - Blair and co would rush to pour money into churches!

We must remember that the Church is a God inspired, but still humanly driven, organisation. It does lose its way from time to time. In my own lifetime I have seen Liberation Theology come and go ("Jesus the Che Guevarra"), "Equality of Faith" is another abberation which has run it's course (The image of Buddha as Christ just doesn't work and nor does the image of Khali as a benign manifestation of God!). What is not reported in the press is the debate between Islam, whose prophet is the "Messenger" of God, and Christianity, whose Saviour is the Word of God. One bears a word, the other is the Word. Why will you not see this? Largely because Islam is another version of Gnosticism but it contains within it elements of Arianism (another Christian heresy from the third and fourth centuries) and Pelagianism (A Heresy from the Fourth Century). As long as there is human activity you will find the churches lurching from one "new" message to another since even in this human activity, the worship of God, you will find that there are those who use it to further their own particular agenda. As a Minister myself it often saddens me to see people doing this and I have to work very hard sometimes to prevent it happening within the congregation I serve.

Has the Church lost its way? I would argue not. Sometimes the message of the Church is not what people want to hear, and at the moment, certainly within the Anglican communion, the message is unpopular since it doesn't allow individuals to shirk their individual responsibilities and off load them onto some amorphous "other". That flies in the face of the current political and media driven mantra that says we are collectively responsible for the wrongs of the individual. The Church also faces some very tough challenges arising through science and medicine, challenges which make us look again at ethics, at what scripture really says about certain things and at how we respond to them. These are not matters that can be respolved by taking simplistic views and clinging to them, they need to be examined carefully and honestly and then a solution which is compatible with our beliefs worked out before we respond. Unfortunately, again, the media and the political classes demand instant answers to questions which could take years to resolve.

I look at the flight of people out of the church and towards the simplistic interpretations of scripture offered by "non-mainstream" churches with some sadness, since this tells me that these are people who do not seek to grow in their faith or in their understanding of faith and scripture. They want simple solutions to everything; comfort blankets that allow them to carry on as before without having to think.

I believe that God gave humanity, in all its diversity and with all its flaws, brains and reason so that we could explore the wonders of his creation and the wonder of the unknown that lies in the life to come. And he expects us to use them. That inevitably means that we will disagree about many things, that we will appear stupid to some and that we will sometimes lose our way. But then, that is where we believe that ultimately the Holy Spirit will put us back on the path and help us find the way.

Posted by The Gray Monk at April 29, 2007 07:13 AM

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