Editorial: The next forty years and the end of mainstream Christianity?

The Editor, the Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes: According to an article recently published in the U.K. Church Times an analysis of R-number modelling, as used during the Covid crisis, which calculates the growth or contraction rates of events and institutions, has given the Church of England a “reproduction potential” R number of 0.9. In short this means that at current rate of decline the Church will cease to exist in 2062. The C of E isn’t alone in this, the Church in Wales the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholics are also heading for oblivion. Only Baptist churches, Pentecostalist and other Evangelical churches are apparently bucking the trend … to a degree. All over the Western World a similar analysis can be applied to what might be called traditional churches. For example, the Episcopal Church in the United States, along with other major denominations, is currently having a crisis of candidates for ordination. Of course, the so-called developing nations have an entirely different growth narrative as the gravitational centre of the Christian Faith shifts south. ... Nevertheless, it might be worthwhile looking ahead to the next forty years or so to speculate what might be the ongoing challenges to us and the next two generations? This is about as far into the future as it is realistic to contemplate without writing dystopian science fiction. ...

The House of Bishops on gay marriage – Part two of a two-part study

In this second contribution to the current debate on gay marriage and the C of E's House of Bishops Report, the Rev'd Jonathan Clatworthy concludes: Reflecting on that whole history of church teaching about sexual ethics, one cannot help noticing that the changes since the early 1960s have been remarkably fast. I suspect this means three things. Firstly, the changes have been much needed. Secondly, younger people find it hard to understand why their parents and grandparents behaved as they did. Thirdly, we are left with much unfinished business. A century ago, there was a clearly understood ethical tradition about sex: it was only for childbearing within marriage. That tradition was sanctioned by a widely accepted moral authority, the Christian churches. Now, there is no clearly understood ethical system. If any principle is emerging as a criterion of acceptable sex, it is simply consent between the parties. In the process, the moral authority of the churches has collapsed. So far, nothing has replaced it. As long as the ecclesiastical leadership continues to tear itself apart over gay marriage, the general public cannot forget why the churches are no longer seen as a moral authority. ...

2023-02-06T23:27:53+00:00By |Tags: |

A response to ‘The Church of England’s Doctrine of Marriage’, +Fulham et al

The Rev'd Dr. Charlie Bell responds to the fourteen bishops who have published a defence of 'traditional' marriage: I thought it might be useful to offer a few thoughts on the most recent paper by a number of bishops, of differing theologies and yet in opposition to same-sex marriage. It’s notable that these bishops come from different theological stables, which probably does give some indication as to why the resulting theology here is so disappointingly light and unconvincing. It appears to lack a coherence theological thread and suffers because of it. Nonetheless, it is good that bishops are finally willing to say what they think – even if we might disagree with it. The risk of saying what you think, of course, is that your arguments are open to challenge. This is my small offering in that regard. ...

2023-02-06T23:32:49+00:00By |Tags: |

Recent debates on same-sex partnerships – Part one of a two-part study

The Rev'd Jonathan Clatworthy concludes: I therefore believe the Church of England’s leadership is trying to do the impossible. No institution can be run on the basis of the two competing epistemologies we have inherited from the Reformation. Either it can be run on the basis that biblical texts, read literally, determine what all true Christians must believe, or it can be run on the ‘classic Anglican’ basis in which the Bible, the Christian tradition and the reasoning powers of the current Church all play a part. It is impossible to run the same church in both ways at once. What the Church of England needs now is not better management techniques or better reconciliation processes, but better theology ...

2023-02-06T23:33:23+00:00By |Tags: |

The long view – How retired clergy can harvest their experience and become encouragers to those who minister in a very different ‘now’.

The Rev'd Mark Rudall writes: The Grace of God is a central concept in Christian theology, but at every level of society there will always be failure if some level of its human outworking is missing ... retired clergy, who have seen the best and the worst of human dynamics in daily life and ministry over many years, are well placed to enter retirement equipped to be of real use in any groups, Christian or otherwise, that they might join.

2022-10-21T22:23:20+00:00By |Tags: |

Post – Covid … Where to tie the knot?

Editorial - The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson - Petertide 2021: The recent announcement from the British government that civil weddings and partnerships may now be celebrated outside in the open air raises once again the perennial question of marriage in church. Not on this occasion the question of (long overdue) same-sex marriage in church but the more general one of where any religious marriage ceremonies may take place ...

2022-10-21T22:29:46+00:00By |Tags: |

A Letter from Malawi

The Rev'd Fr. Daniel H. Chunga (November 2020)

2022-11-18T21:18:48+00:00By |Tags: , |
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