Take a bow, Anglican and Catholic bishops. I don’t know if the British Humanist Association hands out awards, but you certainly deserve one – a statuette of Polly Toynbee, say, for untiring efforts to water down the Christian message to the point where it’s not worth believing in.
So wrote Damian Thompson in his Telegraph blog this week about the decline of Christianity in Britain.
Perhaps there’s nothing the Churches can do to reverse this movement, [he ponders,] – but we’ll never know, because they simply can’t be bothered to try. You’ll find more born leaders and evangelists in a single branch of Carphone Warehouse than on the entire C of E bench of bishops or Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Needless to say (or perhaps not), I’m not as pessimistic as Thompson. I agree that far fewer people are ticking the ‘Christian’ box on the census these days, but I think that’s a good sign – it’s a sign of honesty, of awareness that alignment with a faith implies agreement with a set of beliefs about what this world is, what life is about, and what, or whom, you are living for.
I’d far rather people honestly said ‘I don’t sign up to that view’ than ticked the box without letting it change their lives.
I also agree that many Anglican and Catholic leaders appear not to have had the life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ that Christianity is really all about. They aren’t the only church leaders in the UK though, there are many from other denominations (and a good number from those two) who do know Jesus personally, who are utterly committed to devoting their lives to him, and who do live each day as though the Bible were true and really meant what it said. If you want to know what the state of Christianity in the UK really is, find one of those churches and go along once in a while. You’ll be amazed.
Some other articles I’ve seen this week that I think are worth your time are:
This from Matt Hosier, on how churches ought to talk about marriage, especially, though not exclusively, in light of the Same Sex Marriage developments.
This, from ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ on a really awful abortion ruling by the spectacularly inappropriately named ‘Court of Protection’.
And this, by Danny Webster, finding hope for humanity in the actions of one witness to the brutal murder of a soldier in south London this week.
The woman who treated [the attackers] as human… defied the conspiracy of low expectations…
[Mayor of London Boris Johnson said] that this was a “sickening and unforgivable act of violence”. But he’s wrong. Somehow it is forgiveable, somehow in a way I cannot comprehend but still appreciate there is nothing that is unforgivable. No violence too horrific, no attack too sickening. Violence and vengeance does not mark the path out of a cycle of pain.
Sometimes the way things appear, the way they are reported on the news, the way we come to understand them to be, is not the way they really are. I think all these articles speak to that in some way this week. Reading between the headlines and listening beneath the assumptions brings us to an unexpected, but infinitely richer, truth.