Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 12 December 2018

David Ison ViaMedia.News Are Christians Guilty of Exerting Peer Pressure to Make People “Fit In”?

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church John Calvin and the Christian Right

Ian Paul Psephizo What are the church attendance statistics telling us?

Samuel Bray The Living Church A neglected gem: the Sunday first lessons in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Laudable Practice Another reason why we need Sunday Mattins

James Marston Eastern Daily Press What does a priest in training have to do?

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Tim ChestertonBernardJohn WaldsaxMark BennetBernard Silverman Recent comment authors
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John Bunyan
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John Bunyan

To this lover of Matins and write of a few books and booklets about it, the article on Matins is very welcome – but as when I first encountered it on this blog, I cannot print off more than the 1st of 4 pages, I have not been able to find any contact info. for this blog, and my pleas for help have gone unheeded !

Evan McWilliams
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Evan McWilliams

I’m disappointed ThinkingAnglicans has chosen to publicise Stephen Parsons’ piece on Calvinism. It embraces a raft of stereotypes of what came to be known as the ‘doctrines of grace’ and those who taught and lived them, most of which can be readily disproved or better understood. Even the doctrine of total depravity is inadequately defined, the implication of the essay being that all humans are as bad as they can be rather than what Calvinists actually understand by it, which is that all aspects of the human person are negatively impacted by sin though the grace of God constrains us… Read more »

Wm Bill Paul
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Wm Bill Paul

So true. Even taking the most basic course in Calvin and attention to what dominates Calvin’s thought, never mind his careful, measured commentaries, would show Parsons article to be wide of the mark, to put it kindly.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

I read Stephen’s blog as being about the way the Christian right is rooted in Calvinist thinking, more than about Calvin himself. As so often, followers transmit simplified and distorted versions of a great thinker’s theology. I grew up among Calvinists and Calvinist theology was a major influence on my own spiritual development. It does have the virtue of taking intellectual endeavour seriously – if only within certain narrow limits. This feature is missing in much of the thinking of the current American populist right. However, fear and rigidity are common features in much of Calvinism as I have seen… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
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Absolutely agree, Evan. I was particularly struck by the fact that he got his facts from a book about Calvin, rather than reading the ‘Institutes’ or Calvin’s commentaries for himself. I’m not a Calvinist myself (though I once was), but I think if even C.S. Lewis (no Calvinist) can treat Calvin with respect (as he manifestly does in his big book on 16th Century English Literature), then surely modern Anglican writers can do the same.

Kate
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Kate

“how might we establish a welcoming bridge between Christmas celebration and the exploration of faith in January?” – Ian Paul Paul seems to be stuck in the model that weekly worship should be the norm. But an alternative interpretation of the statistics is that people are interested in a festival church rather than weekly worship practised by recent generations. If that is the case then rather than building bridges to January, service sheets at Christmas should be encouraging people to diaries Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday? Paul speaks rather dismissively of those who don’t worship weekly as fringe. One could… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
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All credit to Ian Paul for taking all the statistics seriously. Now we can have discussions like the point Kate makes (and I agree with) based on evidence rather than mere speculation. There are many theological points on which I’d take issue with Dr Paul, but, to stick to statistics, my only mild gripe is that I don’t think I would have as positive a view as he expresses on the usefulness of the “Worshipping Community” figures. Feedback I’ve had following previous posts on the statistics leads me to think that the figures are extremely speculative. Obviously attendances are also… Read more »

T Pott
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T Pott

There seem to me to be several gripes with Dr Paul’s statistics, not all of them mild. Most basic is his claim that large churches, in terms of weekly attendance, have proportionately larger “fringes”. As “Robert B” comments in Dr Paul’s blog, this fails to recognise that there is no evidence that the churches in the top quartile of weekly attendance are the same as those in the top quartile for fringe attendance. It is like combining information on height with separate information on income. If the 75th percentile for height is 5’10”, and the 75th percentile for income is… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
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I doubt you are missing anything.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

The evidence seems to me to indicate that smaller rural churches often have greater “penetration” into their communities – their attendance relative to population is relatively high on all the measures I have seen. There is a movement of people from urban populations to suburban/rural and we need churches in those places to pick up the people who have enthusiastically joined the urban church in their (relative) youth. What is missing is two things: first, an ecology of church membership; and second, an analysis of church membership against typical faith journeys (what used to be “faith growth”, which seemed to… Read more »

John Waldsax
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John Waldsax

Mark makes some good points about the relatively higher participation rates in all forms of church activities in rural villages. I would add to these the (rarely explicit) assumption by local churchgoers that their worship and church life should be inclusive or at least respectful for most shades of what we used to call “churchmanship”. In the fifteen village churches whom I support as patronage board representative the quality of togetherness with each other in shared ministry and with the local fellowships of other denominations is, by urban standards remarkable and praiseworthy. While village life can on occasion be somewhat… Read more »

Bernard
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Bernard

John, I doubt that anybody arriving in a time machine from 2000 years ago to a modern English village would consider they were in a “similarly rural area” !