Came across a piece by Rod Liddle in the Spectator this week. If you agree with him, you’ll love it. If you don’t, it’ll make you livid. It’s like that with most of his stuff. But that’s a good opinion piece isn’t it?
The title for the article gives the game away; ‘The C of E has forgotten its purpose. Why, exactly, does it exist?‘ Nice; love it! His quote is even better,
‘It is a little like the BBC, in a way, the Church of England. We all knew why it was brought into being and we all signed up to the necessity for its existence, back then. And we might still have an affection for both institutions, based upon nostalgia and wishful thinking. And yet now, with every year that passes, one wonders why they both still exist, what the purpose is, exactly, for having them’.
Of course, Liddle doesn’t really answer the question. But then he shouldn’t have to. That’s our job, as a local church that’s part of the C of E. Every year it ought to be unmistakably clear why we exist. It might make us unpopular, if what we stand for is unwelcome, but at least people will know why we’re here. But we’re here for the salvation of the city. We exist to bring glory to God through the proclamation of the wonderful gospel of the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ and the transformation of life through the work of the Spirit. We need to get that right. Especially at Easter! Liddle wants a more muscular version of Christianity with some moral clout. But we’re more for gospel proclamation than moral reformation. Moral reformation without the gospel is unliveable hypocrisy. As Paul makes clear to Titus, godliness can only come through grace. But I can see where Liddle is coming from.
The reason for his enjoyable rant is, primarily, the contemporary lack of moral substance evident in the leadership of the C of E. Hard to argue with that. He laments Rowan Williams’ capitulation to the prevailing secular ideology,
‘It is a church which has manipulated itself into a position whereby it can accommodate any adjustment to its own faith and ideology in order to make sure that it is in step with what it believes to be popular thinking’.
That’s liberalism for you; reinventing the faith. But if you change the church to become like the world why would you need to come to church. It’s non-sensical. And it’s wrong. Our job, simply put, is to teach the Bible so that we might change the culture not to change the Bible so that it becomes more like the culture. But as Liddle points out that’s not what’s happening in the C of E. As he writes,
‘But that is the view the Church of England, or much of it, has of itself these days. As a sort of superannuated ad-hoc branch of social services: non-judgmental, non-partisan, wholly secular, not Christian at all really, when it comes down to it’.
So why am I still a part of it? I’m not done with the reformation. You?