Thinking Anglicans

mid-August opinion

Johann Hari writes for GQ about Losing our religion. The article has been republished in The Huffington Post under the title The Slow, Whining Death of British Christianity.

And David Pollock writes in The Guardian about The onward march of secularism.

In an interview for the Catholic Herald John Hall, the dean of Westminster Abbey, tells Huw Twiston Davies that he is looking forward to welcoming Benedict XVI: ‘It is good that the Pope is coming’.

Timothy Larsen writes at Inside Higher Ed (of Washington DC) about No Christianity Please, We’re Academics.

Giles Fraser writes for the Church Times about Make giving seem more normal.

Sophia Deboick argues in The Guardian that Theology is a crucial academic subject.

In his column Wren’s tall tower in Twickenham in the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes that “More city churches were demolished in peacetime than were bombed by the Luftwaffe.”

This week’s The Question in The Guardian is Can you keep Christ and give up being a Christian? with responses from John Richardson, Rebecca Jenkins, Theo Hobson and Shirley Lancaster.

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Hector
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Hector

Hari’s comment seems pretty baseless. The Orthodox churches in countries like Georgia, Russia and Armenia are far more conservative than the Church of England, but their membership of faithful communicants is growing and rebounding from the decades of Soviet suppression. The RC church, which is established or semi-established church in some of the Latin American countries, continues to be a powerful force in those countries in spite of its conservatism, and where it is losing members, it’s losing them to equally socially conservative Pentecostal churches. Moreover, the Lutheran churches of Scandinavia- which accepted divorce centuries ago, and one of which… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Timothy Larson’s piece interested me as a recently retired academic who is also an Episcopal priest. I taught English literature at a public university in Virginia. Among the classes I taught beside the usual surveys, was one in the Bible as literature and one on the works of John Milton. The survey of early English literature was of course heavy with references to Christianity. I began each of these classes by ‘coming out’ as an Episcopal priest, since I didn’t wear clericals on campus,praising Jefferson’s ‘wall of separation,’ and explaining that I approached the religious content of the texts as… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Johan Hari hits the nail on the head as usual. ‘Christians’ are their own worst enemies and the sort of cases he cites just add ammunition to those who deride Christianity as a dangerous and divisive delusion.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“Can you keep Christ and give up being a Christian?” Interesting article. I think the answer, although its not my answer, is yes you can. Rice by the way is talking about her giving up Roman Catholicism. It’s important not to lose sight of that point. For many Roman Catholics who have left, there seems to be an inability to completely let it go. For many ex Roman Catholics, joining another Christian denomination is not an option. What remains is a more amorphous form of believing in a sense of having an attachment to the ideal of the Christ, the… Read more »

peterpi
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peterpi

Whether one can keep Christ and not be Christian or reject Christianity is problematic. I believe that the person Jesus of Nazareth (fully human, period) existed. I admire his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, and especially I admire Matthew 25:34-45 which I consider to be an excellent summing up of the Old Testament/Jewish Scriptures prophets’ message of social justice. But then, I’m Jewish. To me, if you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Mashiach, the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, then — by definition — you are Christian. Period. You can reject the teachings… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Peterpi’s posting is intriguing. I think I follow what is meant, and if so, I don’t entirely agree. When people claim to give up on Christianity, in the sense that Ms Rice claims to have done,what is claimed is a complete distancing from Christianity in any formal sense, i.e, formal belonging, legacy, heritage and the like. What is disavowed is not just this set of denominational polices as compared with that set, but the whole notion of identifying one’s self with Christian practice, formal belief, and belonging. I would also be careful about a categorical use of the term messiah.… Read more »

peterpi
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peterpi

Rod, you raise excellent points. IIRC, without looking it up again, Ms. Rice rejects certain aspects of Christianity, and therefore gives up on Christianity, but she accepts Christ. And, therein lies the rub. Who does she mean by Christ? She is intelligent, and therefore I hope she knows that in the name “Jesus Christ”, “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name: “Let me introduce you to Joseph Christ and Mary Christ, and their darling little child, Jesus Christ”. Rather, “Christ” is a title: It means the Anointed One, the Messiah. She used that term: “Christ”. I don’t know in England, but… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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“I think one can be Christian without necessarily belonging to any formal denomination or ascribing to any formal creedal statement. A belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ — some form of unique supernatural means to God — is sufficient.” Of course, this isn’t how the Christian Church has defined “being a Christian,” but I suppose that doesn’t necessarily enter into it (although I suppose it shows that “who’s a Christian?” (just like the “Who’s a Jew?” debate in Judaism) is a matter of who you ask. I believe that St. Francis of Assisi regarded the Muslims as extremely… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Of course, Rice’s claims to be an extra-ecclesiastical Christian is well within the American Protestant tradition:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jua-gdXqiVw&feature=related

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“But, to me she distanced herself from certain aspects of Christianity, misogyny, homophobia, etc., not Christ.”

In short from the Academic Neo Platonist Tradition from ancient Alexandria of both East and West.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Part of the reason why theology is seen to be redundant as an academic discipline may have something to do with the fact that the Church is still, in some areas, resistant to what science is telling us about areas of human development. Religious Studies may remain impervious to what modern scientific method has revealed to the world about sexuality and gender, preferring rather to reinforce stereotype morality. The contribution religious studies could make to a better understanding of these realities affecting every human being – by factoring in the science of human biological discoveries made – could be sufficiently… Read more »

john
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john

Dear Father Ron,

I am glad you champion the necessity of keeping up-to-date in these areas. Could you please also do so in the area of first-century church history and come back to me, otherwise – I’m afraid – I think it’s rather rude.

Regards,

John.

JCF
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JCF

Going THERE, Hector? Really? (Sigh)

“The Church of England should never accept abortion, not now and not ever, no matter if it dwindles to a tiny and demographically irrelevant sect. Truth is more important than popularity.”

Well, I do agree Truth is more important than popularity.

Therefore, no matter how popular (and hysterical) anti-abortion demagoguery becomes, I promise to defend the Truth of reproductive choice w/ my life.

[I didn’t start this, but I hope I ended it! ;-/]

MarkBrunson
Guest

Of course it is possible – perhaps necessary – to keep Christ and jettison “Christianity.”

The ecclesial dynamic was founded and formed by the same corrupted worldview that Christ came to eradicate. Within a few generations of His death, his message had been tamed, the revolution which would overthrow the entire world has become part of the world. For close to 2 millenia, the church, as organized ecclesia, has occupied itself with legalistic minutiae and consistently failed in its one true mission of overthrowing the existing matrix of human existence and establishing the Kingdom.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“We are inevitably social creatures, and even religious “purists” seek out the like-minded. But Christ taught that faith must begin with an acceptance of moral failure – our own and others’. And thus whilst the community of believers must always seek to be reformed it can never demand perfection.” – John Richardson, Guardian – I believe J.R. has enunciated the reality here – that Christians are bound to relate with other Christians – on one level or another. What they can never do is insist on a mutual purity – either of doctrine or behaviour. That is a problem in… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

No, John Richardson has given voice to an old and flawed view – that being in relationship to other Christians requires Christianity as an institution.

Christianity as societal institution – again – has failed in the one Christly duty where loose communities have had at least fleeting success.