Tuesday 19 November 2013

The headline in the Daily Mail this morning is seizing on a speech by Lord Carey in which he foresees the extinction of the Church of England.

I remember my bishop at the time of my ordination stating people have been forecasting the end of the Church for so many years and we are still here. I would have expected Lord Carey to have foreseen the headlines his words were bound to attract.

I regret Lord Carey had not been more forthright when he was in office as Archbishop of Canterbury. I seem to remember him as a sort of disaster. We had under his reign the decade of evangelism, a much triumphed initiative which in fact lost more members than attracted them. He was all things to all men, ranging from devout Anglo-Catholic to committed evangelical, according to which lobby he was speaking.

What should be under criticism are the number of clergy who are letting the Church down, some also making themselves look foolish whilst seeking a few minutes of fame and headlines. For example, we have Remembrance Sunday, when all patriots glow in love of country and are prone to attend Church, and some little known Vicar who claims to be an expert on hymns pops up and condemns the hymn ‘I vow to thee my country’, which is so revered by so many people.

We are about to see some spiritual blood letting during the debate on women being appointed bishops as the debate will get bitter, but personal ambitions must triumph above evangelism.
I so admire Bishop Nazir-Ali who alone amongst the higher echelons of the Church touches the minds of ordinary people, and if Lord Carey wishes to promote the Church and its future should encourage his fellows to adopt a similar tone, rather than have bishops writing to newspapers supporting same sex marriages and other practices which are contrary to Scripture.

Hard to believe as it may be, you have a bishop as chairman of church schools advocating giving priority to non church families above church families. The Arch bishop of Canterbury had to rush a correction after an interview with the Times Religious correspondent in which he appeared ambivalent on which children should be given priority for church schools.

Church attendance now cannot be compared to that of years ago. There are now too many excuses for people not attending now and too many distractions they can claim, such as shops, caravans; children visiting absent fathers, mothers working all week, (being encouraged to do so by governments).

However, all those things do not seem to affect Muslims who face all Christians have to face in life. They don’t abandon their faith, and I suspect you never hear a Muslim cleric challenging anything in their Holy Book in the same way that Christian leaders decry the moral teaching of Scripture and the authority of the Bible. In addition, Muslim women are not wailing about discrimination.

Statistics suggest Christian Church membership is declining, but Islam is increasing. Surprising?

Let us remember Jesus said I will build my Church’. So we mortal clergy do not build or convert, only God does through Christ, we are merely messengers for Him. I don’t think Jesus would approve of many of the messages that are coming out of His Church.

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