on Wednesday, 19 February 2020 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
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
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
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 »
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/
I think you should read a few of his excellent blog posts before you speak so derisively of him.
I agree Tim. Let’s be careful here to avoid any “ad hominem” remarks. Thanks.
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.
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?
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.
Very well put, Tim!
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 »
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.
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.
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.
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 »
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 »
“… 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
‘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?
I think the majority of people today think God is the ‘imaginary friend’.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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 »
“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.