Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Lord Carey and the demise of the C of E

Lord Carey believes (and he has said this before) that the Church of England is dying. 

Has the Church of England been existing on "borrowed time"?  At least part of the basis on which the C of E was founded was illegality, delusion (i.e. the exalted authority of the Crown) and injustice. I'm sorry but it has to be said. The forcible confiscation of Church property (Catholic Church property) was nothing less than theft, even if sanctioned by the King. The forcible removal of monks and nuns from their homes and the  breaking up of religious orders was grossly unjust. And in the midst of all the throwing back and forth of accusations of torture, grisly deaths etc, it has to be pointed out that before the English Reformation the practices of Church discipline were no different to those later adopted by Protestants. Indeed, as regards the violence of the Reformation it has to be said that it was not loyal Catholics who caused the rift, but defecting Catholics who became Protestants. Before the Reformation in Britain there was one Church. Perhaps it was not perfectly administered, and there were certainly arguments and rivalries and all manner of sins...corruption and even murder, BUT there was also great holiness, beauty and learning. The poor were catered for through the monasteries and vast areas of land were cultivated and a great number of people benefited from the monastic foundations. Yes there were abuses, yes, there was a need for reform. The Reformation was not "reform" in that sense and in any event it did not sweep away abuse and corruption but reintroduced the old sins dressed up in slightly different clothes and attached to sometimes vastly different teachings.  

For all this something great developed in Anglicanism. At its best it encouraged a sense of beauty and balance. There is something wonderful about Anglicanism at its best, something that we can all embrace and celebrate. There have been wonderful musicians, writers and spiritual leaders. The Church of England has served the nation well. But something began to go wrong especially after the last war. Secularism began to filter in, theological doubt became accepted and even celebrated, certainty not so much. What had developed was an accommodating Christianity - a Christianity that welcomed just about everything that was happening in society so long as it was not illegal or life-threatening. Moral teaching became fluid. Situation ethics became the norm, absolutes were regarded with intellectual suspicion. On the whole, the Church of England became neither hot nor cold, but "lukewarm". In Revelation Christ says He will spit the lukewarm from His mouth; a warning to all of us, including institutions that have been set up in His name. There was also something else, something that developed within a belief in British and Commonwealth superiority. It was a sense of being somehow more reasonable, more mature, more in tune with the word and its Creator than others who were, well...foreign. This snobbishness can still be found in some places. 

The Church, in the sense of all Christian bodies, is "semper reformanda" but if something is partly founded on rebellion, illegality and injustice it cannot stand unless supported by the State. This support is likely to be removed and then we shall see where the real foundations lay. Anglicans will remain but they will have to find another home. Evangelicals who try to survive against a background of the coming reunion of Catholic and Orthodox and the acceptance of many Anglicans into that union will eventually find themselves in a situation much like that of the Methodists today - barely surviving.

1 comment:

  1. So Lord Carey is correct ,and he might see the demise of the Anglican Church! As you say,Father John, there are beautiful and good things in Anglicanism and this has bee recognised by the Vatican and we now have the Ordinariate in which to grow .