Comments: opinion

Oh dear, hardly words of comfort and joy from the pens of Andrew Brown and A N Wilson about disestablishment and the fading influence of the C of E. Yet we've heard it all before, for as long ago as 1867 Matthew Arnold in Dover Beach was writing of the Sea of Faith's " melancholy, long withdrawing roar". More recently Michael Hampson gave us the "Last Rites" in " The End of the Church of England" . Coming right up to date George Carey has gloomily predicted in a Scrooge like manner that we are just one generation away from extinction. I cannot quite subscribe to their pessimism having just read the Prologue of St. John's Gospel several times to packed congregations, wherein the Evangelist reminds us that although the Light is constantly threatened by the darkness, yet the darkness never overcomes it. Some light somewhere always goes on shining, it must do because in the end the darkness is no real thing, it is merely the absence of light. There is no context, however bleak, in which Christ, the Light of the world, does not hold Himself close to us, enabling His Church to reflect His divine light. So, I for one will not go gentle into that good night. I shall continue to rage and rage against the pessimists who predict the dying of the light. For the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 1:16am GMT

I wonder how much ecclesiastical light shone for David Kato, Daniel Zamudio, and Fanny Ann Eddy.
Perhaps the problem with the church is that it has been part of the darkness for too long.

Posted by FD Blanchard at Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 9:54pm GMT

Father David; quite wonderfully enunciated!

I, too, am puzzled at the likes of George Carey and Co., reiterating their doom and gloom scenario. Perhaps it is because of a sense of their own self-righteousness that religious functionaries are sometimes tempted to emit harrumphs of dissatisfaction, at what they see as the world's imminent demise.

However, we can all take heart that, even in the days of Jesus, the Scribes and Pharisees were known to fulminate against the sins of the great unwashed. That's why he was so unpopular to them. Jesus wanted to replace the penalty of the Law with the remedial gift of grace. The Church seems sometimes to forget its first beginnings, and the reason for its continuing existence.

"God so loved the world...".

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 10:32pm GMT

Fr. Giles Fraser hits the nail on the head - yet again. When Christians put more emphasis on the words in The Book than in the Word-made-flesh in the context of a worship activity, the balance becomes precarious. The guide-book can never take the place of experience of the treasures it points to:

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory - the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 29 December 2013 at 11:12pm GMT

Speaking for myself, it’s being part of the Church of England that opens doors for me in and around our town. When I'm asked and my reply is that I’m a minister in the C of E, you can almost hear an audible sigh of relief. So, brothers and sisters, despair not, the good old Church of England (although reeling and rocking on its foundations) is still recognised as sound and central to Society by those who really need us. And in the words of Tiny Tim "May God bless us every one" in 2014.

Posted by Deacon Olivia at Monday, 30 December 2013 at 1:00pm GMT

The poetry of John doesn't change a consistent, long-term decline in attendance. Neither do packed churches at Christmas.

And Father Ron, do you really go in for old, utterly-discredited sport of Pharisee-bashing? I'd have hoped that here, of all places, would have a good word to say for the predecessors of the rabbinate.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 31 December 2013 at 7:23am GMT
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