April 18, 2014

How the Faith was Lost in the Church of England

church-of-englandSource: Virtue Online | Alan Marsh

When the Church becomes a fixed part of the local landscape, it ceases to preach repentance and conversion, and instead “reaches out” with social programs

Mainstream churches, Catholic, Anglican and most of the Protestants have allowed themselves to become too closely identified with the surrounding society – even if not formally “Established” they are established to all intents and purposes.

Contrast this with the Old Testament, where there is the ever present fear of assimilation by pagan neighbors, and a determination to keep Israel separate from them at all costs. The prohibition against homosexuality is a key part of Israel’s identity: it distinguishes Israel from the idolatry taking place in Egypt, Greece, Babylon or Rome.

A Church which is established slips imperceptibly from being a Great Commission Church to a Church which thinks of itself as providing a pastoral service to the local community or to the State. It loses the will to evangelize, the sense of purpose which energizes the Gospels. It becomes a function of society, rather than the divine instrument for mission.

The Church of England long ago slipped into this fatal frame of mind. It has been declining since the end of the 19th century, but the 1851 religious census reveals that it only held 50% of the nation even then.

It has however maintained the facade of the medieval church, to which everyone belonged prior to the Reformation, pretending ever since that England is a Christian nation state even in the face of the evidence to the contrary.

In the 19th century there was a great impetus for mission abroad, led by the missionary societies, Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic, which produced the flourishing churches we see today in Africa. But since England was ostensibly a Christian country, there was “no need” for mission at home.

We simply serve as the Church of the Nation, without asking too many questions. The great act of surrender came in 1944. When we should have been more concerned with the progress of the war, the government was fixing a deal with the Church of England to take over its national school system, which the Church was struggling to fund.

In return for a sellout to the secular state, the state promised to maintain religious education in schools. It has not done so, and the rate at which religious education has declined since 1944, on an accelerating slope, is the rate at which Christianity has declined in the UK.

We are now on the third or fourth generation which has never learned about the Christian faith. When the Church becomes a fixed part of the local landscape, it ceases to preach repentance and conversion, and instead “reaches out” with social programs.

In the UK, the (small) Orthodox Churches are bucking the trend. There is no syncretism of any kind, no compromise with the immorality of western society – and the churches are full of young people, gathered to hear the liturgy in a variety of languages, including some they do not understand. Partly this is due to the Orthodox faith forming part of their cultural identity, like the Irish clinging on to Rome throughout the generations. But partly it is because their bishops and priests really do intend to hand on the faith received from the Apostles, no more and no less.

MATERIALISM

At root, the problem for North America, UK and Europe is the rampant materialism which has overtaken us. Everything is reduced to a price tag, and the consumer is king. If the consumer wants gay marriage, the consumer must be given it. Christmas has been Disneyfied into oblivion.

It is a feast of the devil in much of western society, where Christ is not just obscured but blotted out by the rush to spend money, to party decadently, drunkenly and ostentatiously, to fill the mind with a whole panoply of sentimental claptrap ranging from Bing Crosby to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

It is a feast for Hallmark Cards and brewers and turkey farmers. The hospital accident and emergency departments are overflowing with blood and vomit and violent drunks. Obama and Cameron and the EU are literally hell-bent on exporting this consumerism to the world. I see this trajectory all around me in UK and Europe, and in the USA. The end result is Gotham City, or Dean Swift’s Yahoos. It is a world given to drink, drugs, violence and fornication. While we remain rich, we will continue to slide into the abyss.

THE WEST IS A MINORITY IN THIS WORLD

Most of the world does not see it this way especially in Africa, India, Russia, etc. The infection has taken root in the western cultures, weakened by 200 years of liberal Protestantism (much of it quietly adopted by Rome) and by the experience of wealth beyond the dreams of Croesus. There may be any number of crises ahead of us – economic meltdown when the current generation becomes too spineless to work, and chooses to rely on handouts. The UK is well down this road.

The continuing large-scale migration of Muslims, unchecked into our societies, who will one day rise up against us as surely as that all too similar ideology known as Nazism. As soon as they consider themselves to be strong enough to do so, they will start to make demands which secular society does not know how to resist, because it “does not do God”.

There is the very real possibility that the rest of the world will gang up economically against the West, which no longer wants to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and put us out of business. In the past, the UK, the British Empire and the USA were strengthened by the experience of going to war against godless enemies in Germany and Japan. But war will not have this effect in future in populations which are divided already against one another, when the enemy will be within, not across some ocean.

HOPE

There is a distant hope for Christendom in the west, but only a faint hope. If the coming crisis is sufficiently great and dangerous to make people think back to the unity which they once shared as Christians, then they may perhaps return to hear what we have to say. But I am doubtful. I think things have become so far corroded and destitute, spiritually speaking, that we will be forced to watch a whole generation, perhaps several generations of western society completely lost to Christ, not least because the churches have failed them.

If Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis are able to change the course of Christian history, then I, along with others will rejoice. But the damage is extensive and deep, and I see little evidence so far of any willingness to confront the decision which really matters – will the church speak prophetically, challenge society and state to change and politicians to repent? Or will it cling on to the vestiges of power and continue to masquerade as a national church, whose pews echo to the sound of the few worshippers who still remain?

Pope Francis gets two marks out of ten for some key symbolic gestures to date.

But I see no sign of Archbishop Justin being prepared to call the Church of England into independence from the grotesquely sexualized state over which Cameron currently presides. No disestablishment here in my lifetime.

The author has written this article under a nom de plume to protect his identity in the Church of England

Comments

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    Christian Schmemann says:

    “It is a feast for Hallmark Cards and brewers and turkey farmers. The hospital accident and emergency departments are overflowing with blood and vomit and violent drunks. Obama and Cameron and the EU are literally hell-bent on exporting this consumerism to the world. I see this trajectory all around me in UK and Europe, and in the USA. The end result is Gotham City, or Dean Swift’s Yahoos. It is a world given to drink, drugs, violence and fornication. While we remain rich, we will continue to slide into the abyss.

    Most of the world does not see it this way especially in Africa, India, Russia, etc. The infection has taken root in the western cultures, weakened by 200 years of liberal Protestantism (much of it quietly adopted by Rome) and by the experience of wealth beyond the dreams of Croesus. There may be any number of crises ahead of us – economic meltdown when the current generation becomes too spineless to work, and chooses to rely on handouts. The UK is well down this road.”

    I agree that people not working is a serious problem. But, in America anyway, this also goes hand in hand with slave wages combined with a relatively high cost of living, and businesses that feel no responsibilities to the society that gave them the opportunities necessary to allow them to flourish. This negative and corrosive sense of detachment from one’s responsibilities goes hand in hand with that spirit of Ayn Rand and Antichrist that says people should only be interested in themselves.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Christian, I see your point, but do you not see that the importation of millions of illegal aliens has driven down the wages of the native working classes?

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        Pere LaChaise says:

        George, who invites those ‘illegal’ immigrants? Which free trade agreement has destroyed those people’s ability to support themselves on living wages back home? Don’t blame the victims. Capital has successfully turned one group of victims against the other, a perfect recipe for endless domination.

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    Harry Coin says:

    Christian, when does selecting a perspective to emphasize a point turn into ‘wave tops at my beach’ being treated as if what’s seen there is the same as ‘the world’s oceans’?

    ‘slave wages’ ‘high cost of living’ ‘businesses that feel no responsibilities’….

    Businesses that ‘feel responsibilities’ don’t exist for long because the ones that do ‘feel responsibilities’ sell products that cost more and eventually go out of business because— deeply caring people who read articles of this sort, and everyone else, when shopping buys the lowest cost product that meets their needs, without regard to any of the laments in the article whatsoever. You know who you are. In fact, you are everyone. Oh you might pick this or that product you shop for to bandaid over the guilt, but in the main you shop for a deal. This includes clergy families, and mightily pious liberal politicians who go across state lines to buy gifts for their families hoping they won’t be recognized out of state then have them mailed 15 miles across the line to avoid paying the sales taxes they voted for.

    If any think that ‘slave wages’ exist in the USA, it’s because they haven’t toured Southeast Asia or the greater part of China where wages and working conditions make the worst legal job here seem safe and wealthy. And it is there that nearly every ‘unfeeling’ company must make what it sells leaving American workers on the sidelines NOT because of some lack of moral fiber in the managers of the business, but because if they don’t, a competitor will, and they will be themselves closed down and out of jobs. Why? Because you and the authors of the above lament buy what you need at the lowest price you can find.

    This language above “negative and corrosive sense of detachment from one’s responsibilities” is tragically wrong on it’s face because it utterly fails to understand choosing otherwise is choosing workplace death. One must choose from among the alternatives one actually has.

    The unstated and completely false presupposition in the article above is that if only some managers at businesses had changes of heart, were not such scrooges, had personal epiphanies they could, at the stroke of a pen ‘pay people right’. Well certainly they could, for about two years, then then everyone at that business would be out of jobs and that business would be closed– because their competitor based overseas where wages are less and working conditions horrific would make good products that sell for less here and you’d buy those.. you’d feel bad of course, hearing of the job loss in the news, the plant closing, but not for too long, because you got a deal. Let’s own our stuff here.

    How many brands is it that you buy that exist in the USA as marketing organizations only — with all their guts being made overseas? If it can be put on a ship and not spoil along the way: it won’t be made here.

    Economics is not subject to politics or money printing policies. It is no more possible to deny actual economics than a speed limit on a hairpin curve on a mountain road. There are two sustainable ways forward. One is to lower living conditions and wages until it’s as bad here as it is there— passing laws to raise the minimum wage will result in greater unemployment with fewer lucky folk with ‘good paying’ minimum wage jobs and the rest being paid tax money we don’t have in aid. There is another way forward, one which I think has the better moral argument: Do not allow the import of products made under working conditions and wages so poor as to be illegal here. Not raising taxes, but banning imports made under horrific conditions.

    Right now, we pay others in countries where dictators rule and, to save money, to do morally awful workplace things we would never tolerate here. We do it because products cost us less that way. Much the same as paying someone else to do an abortion so we can say ‘we are against abortion’.

    Only by banning the fruits of imported slave and near-to-slave and awful-working-conditions labor across the board will the jobs come back here. And I do not mean ‘raising taxes and import duties’ because then the government profits from overseas slave labor, we are still complicit. After some small quota enough to be sure of the facts: banning imports that include horror-show offenses to human dignity.

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    Harry Coin says:

    I recall a scene from a British television show featuring a very liberal new-from-college veterinarian heading into the farmland of York on a bus, seeing a horse and plough, remarking to a seasoned farmer traveling beside him how sorry he was to see the horses go. The farmer asked: “have you worked a field with horse and plow?” The new clueless vet answered ‘Well… no.” The farmer merely remarked: “I thought not”.

    Regarding the article’s lament re the vague terms ‘consumerism’ and ‘materialism’: There is an aspect of excess a Christian must appreciate. But if communication is about what the hearer hears more than about what a speaker intends, we have have to work harder in writing.

    Christian authors that uphold human dignity in the workplace will find ears to hear. Writing that suggests church leaders ought declare winners and losers on the product shelves risk appearing little different than the government ‘establishment’ overlords lamented of in the foregoing.

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    Larry says:

    I found this article to be enormously informative. And it provided me with an understanding of why atheism seems to be on the rise in the UK. Indeed, 3 of the 4 atheist horsemen (Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett) have ties to Oxford. Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry and countless entertainers of British extraction subscribe to atheism. . . this is the first explanation to me how the vehemence of atheism has come about especially within western culture especially after the end of the cold war.

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    Karen says:

    As one who was a student for a few years in the late 1960s and 1970s British public schools, I can attest to the reality portrayed in this article. We sang hymns of the Church of England in the mandatory weekly school assemblies directed by the headmaster. The headmaster at my Lancashire secondary school read the same passage (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) at every single school assembly, while exemplifying nearly the opposite in his day-to-day quasi-Dickensonian intimidation in of students during the rest of the week. Students attending church regularly and pursuing a commitment to Christ were few and far between. We felt ourselves a fringe, ridiculed and endangered minority, while with the memories of the horrors of war still fresh in their parents’ minds, our peers as they reached their teens exemplified the atheism and agnosticism that was the cultural default even at that time. Those cynical and hedonistic youths are now Great Britain’s grandparents. Needless to say, it has only gotten worse and more hostile in the decades since.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Economics is not subject to politics or money printing policies. It is no more possible to deny actual economics than a speed limit on a hairpin curve on a mountain road. There are two sustainable ways forward. One is to lower living conditions and wages until it’s as bad here as it is there— passing laws to raise the minimum wage will result in greater unemployment with fewer lucky folk with ‘good paying’ minimum wage jobs and the rest being paid tax money we don’t have in aid. There is another way forward, one which I think has the better moral argument: Do not allow the import of products made under working conditions and wages so poor as to be illegal here. Not raising taxes, but banning imports made under horrific conditions.

    Shpping jobs overseas which can also be blame on the right as well, same does for high skilled immigration. Ted Cruz wants 320,000 tech vistas a year which takes a lot of the native born out of work for foreign born from India and so forth to do tech jobs or eventually shipped overseas. Automation and Robotics are destroying jobs.My idea would be to have the government set land again to farm or do crafts business like it was in the 19th century. A hard thing to do.

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      Pere LaChaise says:

      Some nice thoughts, but they fly in the face of reality:the virtual absence of government here, rather one which does not do a thing in the midst of deep depression to alleviate joblessness but instead pursues macroeconomic policies to the benefit of the already filthy rich. The ‘government’ of this ‘nation’ is far along the path of reconfiguring it into a 3rd-world economy. The slave wages prevalent in China and Mexico are harbingers of the ‘new normal’ here.

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    cynthia curran says:

    George, who invites those ‘illegal’ immigrants? Which free trade agreement has destroyed those people’s ability to support themselves on living wages back home? Don’t blame the victims. Capital has successfully turned one group of victims against the other, a perfect recipe for endless domination.

    That’s partially true but lots of Mexicans can go to the big cities to worked in Car factories or sell goods from push carts instead of coming to the US. In fact Mexicans in LA have a higher unemployment than their counterparts in Baja California but they make higher wages in the US.

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