In my previous blog I wrote about the need for Christians to be seeking to play their part in influencing society but doing so in the right way. This is an issue facing many different parts of the church.
In recent weeks I read an article in the Times by Melanie Phillips, not normally someone I agree with. She spoke about and quoted Lorna Ashworth who had just resigned from influential positions within the Anglican Church and about the challenge the Anglican Church is facing in responding to the changes in society.
Ashworth’s protest, is about the church’s general embrace of secularism. The true message of Christianity, she says, risks being drowned out by people who prefer to discuss social justice because “if we talk about sin, then we have to talk about bad behaviour and people don’t want to be judgmental”.
As a result, the church wants to replace sin, judgment and repentance by “good disagreement”. Thus it would give good and bad equal status. In other words, it would vitiate its role as moral arbiter altogether.
She goes on to talk about the difficulties associated with trying to be inclusive and to prevent bullying.
It is certainly important for religious bodies, like everyone else, to be sensitive to the needs of those who don’t fit in. Being inclusive, however, does not mean giving powerful interest groups the right to remake society in their own image. Which is precisely what’s happening.
She then goes on to critique the secular agenda.
The secular goal, however, is not tolerance and inclusivity at all. It is to overthrow the Christian basis of the West. It is an exercise in the doctrinaire use of power. As such, the agenda the church is embracing is resulting in the bullying and intimidation of all who transgress the doctrine of gender and sexual fluidity.
Finally presenting the challenge that the church faces.
As Ashenden observes, those pushing these reforms on the church threaten to change Christianity out of all recognition. “It’s hard to know what to call it,” he writes. “Some have suggested using the label MTD: ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’.”
The outcome of the church evacuating itself of meaning in this “inclusive” way is not a growing flock but empty pews.
Many think the church is an irrelevance. It is not. It is indissolubly connected with Britain’s national identity and the health of its culture. The church is, however, suffering from a kind of spiritual auto-immune disease, attacking its own protective organisms while embracing those that will destroy it. As with the church, moreover, so with the society at whose very core it lies.
Provocative. These are very challenging times. We have to discern how the church relates to the world today, if we get it wrong we and the world are in deep trouble!
Written by Tony Thompson