18 December 2013

C of E: tired, listless and dispirited

● Former Archbishop George Carey warns that the Church of England is at risk of imminent demise, various newspapers reported recently. The relevant quote,
As I have repeated many times in the past, we are one generation away from extinction.
was extracted from an otherwise upbeat speech Carey gave last month.
Something the papers seemed to leave out was Carey’s diagnosis: to outsiders, the Church seems tired, listless and dispirited, qualities that are unlikely to appeal much to young people. Contrast this with the exuberance and self-confidence of contemporary Islam.
Obviously the secularisation of society – perhaps inevitable in a world increasingly preoccupied with technology – plays a role in the decline of Christianity in the West. But it doesn’t help when people like Professor Richard Dawkins bounce around the landscape proclaiming that Christianity is evil (an accusation which, if made about one of the other religions, would probably have the critic clapped in irons).
Worse, one gets the impression that many inside the Church also regard Christianity as morally and intellectually ambiguous. When the only major British cleric who sounds as if he actually believes in Christian tenets seems to be Archbishop John Sentamu, born in Uganda, it suggests the ecclesiastical consensus in this country has packed its bags, psychologically speaking.