Christian dogma and free enquiry

Christian dogma and free enquiry


Jonathan Clatworthy is a liberal Christian theologian and blogger, and trustee of Modern Church. His latest book is ‘Why Progressives Need God.’ He has been a parish priest, university chaplain and tutor in theology, philosophy and ethics. His main research interest is the relationship between monotheism and ethics. See: https://www.clatworthy.org

‘Christ and the Creeds’ was the title of Modern Church’s[1] most famous conference, held a hundred years ago this summer. It caused such as furore as to make the front pages of national newspapers. There is to be a day conference on 11th September 2021 to celebrate it.

My first thought was: how things have changed! A century ago, Anglicans fell out with each other over the divinity of Christ, solemnly recited in the Creeds. Today, instead, we fall out about same-sex partnerships.

On reflection, though, much has stayed the same. The presenting issues come and go; what persists is the tension between the people who want to maintain what they have been taught and the people who want to think it through again. Some are committed to truth through reason; for others, any deviation from what the Church teaches and you shouldn’t be a bishop. Or even a priest.

[1] See: https://modernchurch.org.uk

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