“The Church in its own bubble has become, at best the guardian of the value system of the nation’s grandparents, and at worst a den of religious anoraks defined by defensiveness, esoteric logic and discrimination.”
No, it wasn’t Richard Dawkins or indeed any other spokesman for atheism. It was the Bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, in a blog post this week entitled Time for a reboot, not a bailout. I’m hardly an insider to the topics he discusses, which are the manifestations of the deep politics of the Anglican Communion.
But for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I’m reading words by a bishop who has at very least a glimmer of insight into the problems Christianity has in the 21st century. Those problems have been a frustration to me for more than a decade now.
There’s a core to Christianity that’s impervious to change – the Heart of Christianity, as Marcus Borg put it. But that heart is not to be found in the traditions received from the society that embraced the industrial revolution. Throughout its history, Christianity has embraced society and found the essence of the Jesus Way in it awaiting redemption. “Tradition” changes.
By assuming the prudery of the 18th and 19th centuries defines “tradition”, the church has failed to understand or adapt to modern sexuality, globalist capitalism, the meshed society and more. Instead, it worships an idol. In each case “tradition” means intolerance of change and a failure to see where Jesus would have been found in each change. The result is the disconnect Bishop Alan describes:
“ The C of E used to be the guardian of the nation’s morals, but is increasingly perceived as irrelevant, or even a threat to them.”
As well as all the things Bishop Alan pinpoints I keep hearing those “anoraks” voices calling for internet censorship – most recently the “snooper’s charter”, CCDP. I long to hear their voices speaking into the emerging meshed society instead of against it.
“The real fault line now in the Church is between those of all stripes who are at home with social change, and whose Jesus inspires them to find ways of living authentic lives in this culture, and those who fear it, and whose religion is a way to prevent it, or even reverse it.”
Yes, yes. Let’s hope the new Archbishop of Canterbury, whoever he is, understands these things and has the wisdom and courage to engage.