After a few days away from blogging it is gratifying to be able to return to report signs of further disintegration of the Anglican Church. These became evident last week when the former chaplain to the Queen, Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden, resigned and urged others to leave the Church of England if they want to remain true Anglicans.
The Queen of England and Scotland is herself titular head of the Anglican Church so it's especially pleasing that her personal spiritual adviser is telling people they should leave her Church!
His reasons for doing so tell us a great deal about what's happening as the Church of England dwindles towards extinction, probably to be subsumed withing some reformed grouping of non-Catholic Christian churches which are also struggling to survive and provide any sort of relevance to people.
Ashenden resigned after complaining about a passage from the Qur'an being read in Glasgow Cathedral during a service to mark Epiphany. This event, which was intended to help build bridges between the two faiths, has enraged the puritans who favour building walls and increasing in-group intolerance of the out-group and increased polarisation of society.
In an appeal to intolerance and bigotry in his departing whinge, Dr Ashenden urged Angicans to "leave the church" if they seek to be faithful to the gospel of Christ. He complained:
[You get left behind] if you make political enemies, or your face does not fit, or you fail to adopt increasingly secular values... [The Church is] so politicised that it matters more now that you are a feminist than a theologian... Demographically and financially [The Church of England] is dying. Spiritually it appears to be on its last legs too.
I'm not sure I see much point in a church that just wants to be accepted as a sort of not too irritating chaplain to a secular and hedonistic culture, which is what it seems to be becoming. I want to remain a faithful Anglican, but increasingly it looks like that is only possible outside the C of E. It has opted for a kind of spiritualised socialism and feminism in opposition to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. You get new life when you repent. But there is no sign that it is ready to take that path.
In 2016 weekly attendance at Anglican church services in the UK fell below 1 million for the first time.
The fundamental problem is the paradox in which the C of E now finds itself in as it seeks to recover the lost members who left largely because of the Church's irrelevance and intolerance of gays, women, etc, and those who remained despite the attempts to liberalise. As the liberals leave, the demographic shifts inexorably to the right and the church comes more and more to resemble an exclusive cult of intolerant bigotry. The paradox is that in order to attract these people back, the church needs to liberalise despite its core remaining membership being increasingly illiberal and intolerant. It needs to retain this core membership by appealing to in-group needs for cohesion through exclusion of others whilst simultaneously pretending not to be exclusive.
Of course, any moves towards acceptance of the out-group will reduce in-group cohesion, and this is exactly what we are witnessing with the resignation of Ashenden and the outrage of people like Rev. David McCarthy and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali. It's worth reading what these two said on the matter:
It's a strange and erroneous matter for the clergy leadership of a cathedral to allow a reading from the Quran which later goes on to deny the divinity of Christ. Of course it is nice to invite people of other faiths to be present for worship, but sadly this recitation reveals a naivety and the growing tendency towards a lack of confidence in the uniqueness of Christ.
My Muslim friends have a strong confidence in their faith and would not be at all happy if a passage like John chapter 1, which affirms Jesus is God, was read out in their mosque. So why did the leadership of the cathedral allow a recitation from a book which Muslims believe is the final unaltered revelation from God which supersedes the Bible?
Rev. David McCarthy
Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship.
The passage read at St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow, appears to be from the Sura known as Maryam or Mary and is about the birth of Christ. It affirms the virgin birth and speaks of Jesus as zaki or sinless, as rasul or messenger to whom a book has been entrusted and as nabi or prophet. It speaks of his unique birth, his coming death and his resurrection. Jesus is called the very word of the truth(or of God).
Much of this Christians can agree with but the passage also denies that God can have a son although the verb used, yattakhida, suggests God taking to himself a son. This seems to have the heresy of adoptionism in the background and is not what Christians believe.
They believe he is the eternal Word proceeding from the Father and son in this sense, as well as because of his unique birth and his resurrection from the dead. It is particularly insensitive to have this passage read in Church on the Feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate not only Christ's manifestation to the gentiles but also his baptism and the divine declaration, "you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased".
The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation and exercise appropriate discipline for those involved. The Archbishop of Canterbury should also distance the Church of England and the world wide Anglican Communion from this event.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
Bishop Nazir-Ali is considered something of a trophy for Anglicanism, being a former Imam. He has all the intolerance for his former faith that you would expect of someone with the fundamentalist zeal of the convert. Where once he found it impossible to understand why anyone would disagree with his Islamic faith he now finds it impossible to understand why they don't. As always, his personal faith is the best available way to determine the truth.
Notice that both Nazir-Ali and McCarthy pay passing lip-service to the idea of commonality of belief then emphasise the differences and heretical nature of Islam. Both seek to maintain divisions and differences rather than to emphasise similarities. Neither are prepared to compromise or recognise that there could be another source of morality for consideration. How then are they to comprehend that Anglican Christianity is not the only possible source of morality? Of course they can't because, to them, to allow any out-group thinking into their cult destroys the exclusivity of the in-group and so destroys the entire basis of their cult - we're right and they're wrong so we're better than they are.
This shrinkage and degeneration into minority cult status was the inevitable result of an essentially medieval culture with notions of fixed and unchangeable morals and dogmas struggling to keep a leash on a culture that was moving away from it at an accelerating pace. The leash broke long ago leaving the church to whine pathetically as it tries to keep up. The UK now needs to recognise that the Anglican Church is no longer representative of a significant proportion of the population and has long since lost any claim it might one have had to be the moral and spiritual voice of the British people.
'via Blog this'