For those of you who know me, or who have been long-term visitors to this Corner of the Blogosphere, you will probably know that I am a Christian. You may also know that although I don’t care much for denominational division that I usually attend an Anglican church.
There is lots which is good about the Anglican church. Personally, I like the breadth of styles it encompasses, the structure of some of the liturgy it offers and the fact that a lot of Anglican churches are at the heart of communities. People relate easily to them, even if it’s just for weddings and funerals and the odd Christmas sing-song and the opportunities to share the Christian message and make a positive difference to those communities are theoretically huge.
What a shame, therefore, that these opportunities are so often lost. Admittedly, I don’t necessarily think much of the BBC’s standard of reporting, especially on this sort of issue, but I thought it sad that the headline for the Archbishop’s Christmas sermon was the fact that he was “lamenting” something or other. Where was the positivity of the Christmas story?
On New Year’s Day, Rowan Williams used the opportunity he had to address thousands of people to tell them not to give up on young people. Not a bad thing to say, of course, but this man is paid by the church and in nothing which I saw reported did he talk about the core beliefs which should be at the heart of the organisation. Again, what a shame that the opportunity to get across the message of Jesus Christ to a population who are largely uninformed and ignorant was wasted.
As C.S. Lewis put it, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Here in Southampton, I am really excited by the various initiatives currently going on to help people see the importance of Christianity, and the idea that it is not blind superstition but reasonable faith. The Christian Union at the University are putting on a series of events on campus to encourage people to engage with Christianity and this also excites me. As a Christian, I believe that Christianity is true and not only important but something which is hugely positive – it is therefore great to see people investigating it for themselves.
So, don’t get me wrong – there is some good news and I’m not really that much of a grumpy old man. But it does frustrate me that the Anglican Church, for all its strengths, often appears to see Christianity as nothing more than “moderately important,” squandering opportunities to make a difference.
You reap what you sow, of course, and the decline reported on this blog saddens me but doesn’t surprise me. I do however like the point made that “General Synod has 4 debates coming up on women bishops, and none on church growth/decline. I'm sorry but that's bonkers. Anyone who thinks women bishops is the biggest issue facing the church at the moment hasn't woken up or inhaled the coffee. There is no point re-arranging dog collars on the Titanic.”
The irony is, of course, that a lot of the problems in the church stem from the fact that a lot of the current bishops lack balls…