Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 19 February 2020

Giles Fraser UnHerd Churches are closing down – I won’t let mine be one of them

John D Alexander The Living Church The Bishop Who Foretold Dresden

Richard Peers Oikodomeo Growing the Church: parish weekends and events

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Kate
Kate
4 months ago

If I was a member of Richard Peers’ church, I would leave very quickly. How awful.

There might be a better link than this but this illustrates what the Pope thinks https://disrn.com/news/pope-says-christians-should-never-try-to-convert-unbelievers-anyone-who-proselytizes-is-not-a-disciple-of-jesus

Kate
Kate
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think this helps to explain things further https://m.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/pope-francis-explains-what-he-means-by-proselytism-and-evangelization “Your Holiness, I am from South Africa. This boy was a Hindu and converted to Catholicism. This girl was Anglican and converted to Catholicism.” But she told me in a triumphant way, as though she was showing off a hunting trophy. I felt uncomfortable and said to her, “Madam, evangelization yes, proselytism no.” And Evangelization is essentially witness. Proselytizing is convincing, but it is all about membership and takes your freedom away. What I understand from these various pieces is that evangelising by witnessing is good and there is nothing wrong… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

Father Richard doesn’t lead a church. He’s director of education for the Diocese of Liverpool. See http://www.educatemagazine.com/revd-richard-peers-diocese-liverpools-director-education/

Kate
Kate
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

Even worse!

Tim Chesterton
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think you should read a few of his excellent blog posts before you speak so derisively of him.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

I agree Tim. Let’s be careful here to avoid any “ad hominem” remarks. Thanks.

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago

Fraser doesn’t want his church to be shut. Well fine, but then he must get behind efforts to attract new members, instead of glorifying in failure, as he’s done previously.* One thing or the other, but not both.

* https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2015/apr/03/christianity-when-properly-understood-religion-losers

Michael Mulhern
Michael Mulhern
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

Sorry James, but there’s no way Giles Fraser can get behind efforts to attract ‘new members.’ The Church of England doesn’t have members. We’re here for everyone. We’re a not a chaplaincy for the committed. Those churches that do have members (Methodist, URC, Baptist) are haemorrhaging (far worse than the C of E’s decline). As for glorifying in failure, we’re less than a week away from the beginning of Lent. We know where that leads. Do I need to say any more?

Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

The Church of England may not have members, but the Body of Christ certainly does. And funnily enough, the members of that Body are also ‘here for everyone’, so there’s no contradiction between the two.

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Chesterton

Very well put, Tim!

Tim Chesterton
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

Thank you James. As a foreigner I’ve often been perplexed about the way many C of E clergy on TA look down their noses at those of us who work in non-established churches, as if we’re totally focussed inward and have no outreach or service to the community at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that as pastor to a gathered congregation I can disciple and equip a whole community of people to reach out in service to the neighbourhood and the world (in word and deed). And my time as pastor to my own… Read more »

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago

Yes, I know the CoE doesn’t technically have members, it’s shorthand for regular attendees. There’s no conflict whatsoever between being a broad church and doing all you can to maximize congregations: just the opposite, the more people attend, the more accessible churches are.

As for Lent, it’s of course followed by resurrection and the instruction to go forth and preach the good news to all nations.

Jane Thomas
Jane Thomas
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

But no Easter Day without Good Friday, no resurrection without crucifixion. ‘We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…’ Please don’t be Christologically selective – or proclaim a resurrected Christ who has no wounds as a basis for a simplistic Church growth strategy. This kind of theological myopia only feeds imperial delusions and a fortress mentality.

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago
Reply to  Jane Thomas

The comment was directed solely at lauding failure as an end in itself, it took no position on christology. A healthy applications of the Passion narrative in ministry is loving regardless of people’s flaws, and seeks to help them. Moltmann’s suffering God. Making suffering and failure some kinda endzone is where it goes awry.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago

That was a wonderful, thoughtful column by The Rev. Alexander on the bombing of Dresden. I have often, in the past, associated myself with pacifist groups, and the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima loom large with those groups. But, before those two cities were incinerated, mass aerial bombing with airplanes dropping conventional explosive bombs and incendiary bombs wreaked physical damage and human loss of life on a similar scale. And many historians believe 25,000 dead is an absolute minimum for Dresden. More than one historian has called WWII a “necessary war”: By the time Poland was invaded, Allied countries… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
4 months ago

The John Alexander piece on Dresden is powerful and accurate, but in fact understates the futility of it. George Bell was right: aspects of the 1939-1945 air campaign were justified. And some of the more horrific ones, too: if you take a cold-blooded view of “fewer people dying is better than more people dying” you can easily argue that even Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. It’s often pointed out that America is still, after Korea and Vietnam, using the stockpile of Purple Hearts that were manufactured for the invasion of Japan, but that ignores the likely casualties both from military… Read more »

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago

“… German Antifa groups annually celebrate Bomber Harris for killing hundreds of thousands of Germans that they regard as complicit in Nazi crimes.”

Next time anyone on the far left has the nerve to take a position of moral authority, I’m showing them this.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

Meh.
Both sides proclaim moral authority.
Both sides insist they sit on the right (left?) hand of God (if they are theists) or history or humanity or justice, etc
Both sides, and yes I include myself, can act morally smug.
Conservatives have made equally grotesque claims.

To use an evangelical phrase I generally detest (because I feel the speaker of the phrase often doesn’t feel it applies to him/her, just the intended audience), we’re all human, we all fall short in the eyes of God.

Jo B
Jo B
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

I don’t think anyone on the left, far or otherwise, is unaware that some on the left have some dodgy views. I don’t see how that affects people on the left who don’t have those views speaking with moral authority.

Kate
Kate
4 months ago
Reply to  Jo B

Jo, I agree. Feminists try to find the worst possible behaviour by a trans person and then try to imply NO trans woman can be trusted. It is an intellectually and morally bankrupt argument in both cases but sadly all too commonly used these days.

Susannah Clark
4 months ago
Reply to  Kate

SOME feminists.

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago
Reply to  Jo B

It doesn’t, since the comment applied solely to a small subset on the fringes who act as if a position’s virtuous simply by virtue of them holding it. It casts no aspersions on the wider left. When the hat doesn’t it, there’s no need to wear it!

Jo B
Jo B
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

Generally one doesn’t use the word “anyone” to refer to a “small subset on the fringes”. It seems to me that the only people to criticise for those German Antifa members who celebrate the Dresden bombing is… those German Antifa members who celebrate the Dresden bombing. How often do you encounter these people that you feel the need to seize on this rhetorical weapon?

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago
Reply to  Jo B

Jo B, whatever issues you take with the phrasing, I’ve explained who the comment was confined to. The people I’m referring to talk gleefully about who’d be “first up against the wall” (it’s liberals, BTW, who they despise more than the most hardened boot-boys), and their loathing of religion makes new atheism look like a revivalist meeting. Even so, I’ll indulge them up to the point they claim some special virtue for themselves, which is mighty close to turning the other cheek!

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
4 months ago
Reply to  James Byron

The Anti-Germans are a tiny fringe of a tiny fringe.

To regard them as representative of “the far left” is quite a stretch, unless your definition of the “far left” is so narrow as to exclude even people like the SWP or AWL. And to regard them as representative of German anti-Fascist groups more broadly is absolutely absurd.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Germans_(political_current)

James Byron
James Byron
4 months ago

I entirely agree about any group that’s disassociated itself from them and their antics, as the local Pirate Party did. The comment was directed at a very specific tendancy on the fringes of the left, one I assume (given the bile it spews at any kind of religion) will have few allies here.

Jo B
Jo B
4 months ago

The anti-germans appear to be primarily pro-US neo-conservative foreign policy, which is an interesting position for a so-called left wing group to take.

Incidentally, I’ve never heard “first up against the wall” used anything other than in jest by those on the left or in mockery by their opponents. I’m not ruling out that someone might mean it seriously but those who expect an imminent proletarian revolution are much like those who expect an imminent rapture: earnest, nutty, serially disappointed, and slightly terrifying.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
4 months ago

‘A living relationship with Jesus is essential to the Christian faith’! No it isn’t. Jesus is dead. It’s the risen Christ we relate to and that’s something entirely different, not bound by space or time, and certainly not bound by biblical and religious convention, doctrine or dogma. That sort of ‘faith’ enslaves’ . How can we possibly encourage people to sign up to an imaginary friend?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

I think the majority of people today think God is the ‘imaginary friend’.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
4 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I’m not sure that’s true. I think most people have some concept of ‘the other’, something beyond the here and now, which they might well describe as ‘spiritual’. I think we dismiss this at our peril. What people won’t and don’t accept is the whole formalised doctrine of ‘sin’, salvation, ‘what the Bible says’ and the social control agenda which burdens and disfigures Christianity.

Simon R
Simon R
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Richard Ashby, you are true theologian! Oh that we heard this kind of language more often from those who are ordained and consecrated to teach the faith.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Richard, you seem very sure of that. How do you account for the empty tomb, the fact the Roman sentries weren’t punished for the disappearance of Jesus’ body, and the fact that over 500 people witnessed Jesus alive (and sometimes eating) after his crucifixion?

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
4 months ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

I don’t and don’t need to. What ever the facts are, and I’m agnostic, like many Christians, on the literal truth of the resurrection stories, it remains that the historical Jesus died.

Tim Chesterton
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Um – ‘Christ’ in the NT doesn’t refer to some spiritual being completely different from the human Jesus. ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’, the king some Jews believed God was going to send to set them free from Roman domination and usher in a literal, political free state of Israel. That figure was very this-worldly, not heavenly or spiritual or mystical at all. So the title ‘Christ’ is no more closely related to the risen figure we Christians relate to than is the name ‘Jesus’.

Susannah Clark
4 months ago
Reply to  Richard Ashby

Imagination is one of many ways truth and love break through into our lives. Pivotal to my own spiritual life is my relationship and friendship with the child Jesus. Jesus, the God child who lived on this Earth. That friendship and trust is huge for me. Some of our relationship involves imagination. Some of it is deep reality and truth, breaking through, and shared between us. Friendship with Jesus is indescribably precious, and imagination is one of our God-given capacities for opening up to that. So ‘imaginary friend’? Only in the sense that imagination can deepen our experience and encounter,… Read more »

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
4 months ago

“How can we possibly encourage people to sign up to an imaginary friend?”

I’m not quite sure the point you’re trying to make here.

I’m assuming from your posting that you’re referring to the “dead Jesus.”

But how is the “risen Christ” any less an imaginary friend? Or God for that matter.

Many of the new atheists use the phrase “imaginary friend” as a put-down for the God that theists believe in.

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