Sunday, December 14, 2014

To what does the Church aspire?

Reading in The Economist about women bishops soon to join the Lords in England, I came across this line:

The change was overwhelmingly favoured by the leadership of the church, the clergy (one-third of which is female), and by public opinion—which matters for a church which aspires to be the spiritual voice of a whole nation, however diverse or secular.

The author got it right.  A church which aspires to be the voice of a people, the voice of a nation, or even the global voice of a world will inevitably no longer be the voice of God.  That is the problem.  We live in an era in which churches aspire more to be that voice of the populace than the voice of God.  And who wouldn't?  To be the voice of God is to speak the unpopular and unwelcome voice of repentance.  We would much rather be the voice of the people who speak what they want to hear, who herald the progress of modernity, who insist that if we keep the course th e world will be better and you will also improve, and who tell us what we want desperately to believe -- that all is right with us, with our desires, and with our feelings.  No matter that this is always the voice that leads the unwitting to their demise.

It is much harder to be the Church that aspires to speak God's voice to the world, either the small part around you or the broader whole.  It is much more difficult to speak against the prevailing norms and habits of a world caught in sin than it is to herald the call to righteousness, repentance, and renewal.  It is much easier to get distracted by the political and social justice agendas that purport to be important and essential in creating a better world than it is to herald the world to come.  It is much harder to be the voice of God that heralds virtue and condemns sin and all its immorality of life, thought, and speech.

But you do not have to be a state church like the good ole C of E to aspire for grandeur before men -- oops, people.  Little and inconsequential church bodies are also tempted and give into a cause they deem greater and more urgent that the voice of Law and Gospel in the world.  Yet therein lies the rub.  The world has many voices to prompt its improvement and many voices to promote its agenda.  The Church was created to be captive to the Lord and His agenda by being captive to His Word and knowing Jesus and Him only, preaching Jesus Christ and Him only, and raising up the cross and the cross only before the world.

For the C of E it is perhaps too late.  But it may not be too late for the rest of us to wake up and smell the roses.  God established the Church to be His creation, to do His bidding, and for His glory.  Period.


Kirk Skeptic said...

Being a state church the C of E also has its bills paid by taxpayers who might prefer a secular humanistic message, and is ultimately undeer the government which most certainly does. This makes C of E apostacy more understandiable, and American church apostacy less so.

Dr.D said...

Kirk Skeptic may be correct about CofE apostasy being more understandable than American church apostasy, but apostasy is apostasy, wherever it happens. The end result is the same.

What has happened in the CofE is a major disaster for Christendom, and particularly for the UK. One UK bishop says that the CofE will last another six years at most. What I think is almost funny about that statement is that there is nothing to last at all; it is DEAD NOW. There remain a few faithful individuals in the UK, but the national church is deader than a (church) door nail.

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

Fr John Hunwicke said...

The Church of England most certainly does not have its bills paid by the State. In this respect it is in a less enviable position than the Church in France where, as I understand it, the State maintains Church buildings. The C of E, in fact, has had to struggle to avoid being made to pay VAT on church repairs.

Kirk Skeptic said...

Fr J: while I was incorrect about tax payments to the C of E, it is still a state-sponsored church under the authority of monarch and Parliament, its archbishops sit in the House of Lords, and it enjoys the privileges of legal establishment. You can't have it both ways.