Lord Carey’s doom warnings spark sharp debate: The Church of England Newspaper, December 6, 2013 December 9, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: George Carey
Lord Carey has warned the “Church of England could be one generation away from extinction”.
Speaking to the Shropshire Churches Conference 2013 on 17 Nov 2013, the retired archbishop observed the Church of England was viewed with “indifference — the rolled eyes of embarrassment, the yawn of boredom,” adding that may did not see “the average church as a place where great things happen.”
“To sit in a cold church looking at the back of other peoples’ heads is surely not the best place to meet exciting people and to hear prophetic words,” he said.
The archbishop offered a four point plan for evangelism that began with reimagining the church. Rather than focus on institutional preservation, Anglicans should emphasize the “transformative effects of Christianity … of prayer being answered … of sins being forgiven … of reconciliation taking place … of lives being touched.”
“What I am urging is a return to basics where our expectation is for transformed lives,” Lord Carey said. “This is not a cry for more gimmicks, but simply a cry to go deeper.”
To do this, Christians must “nurture fellow Christians to grow authentic disciples,” as well as serve as “agents of social transformation. “
“The time has come to ratchet up our commitment to serving our communities around us. Often the dirty word is the word relevance. Christians cry: ‘It is not our job to be relevant. Our job is to follow Christ’. I agree. But no one was more relevant than our Lord in serving others,” he said.
Lord Carey’s warnings sparked spirited controversy in the press. The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone endorsed the archbishop’s sentiments and applauded his work of recent years, but said his predictions were wrong. Also writing in the Telegraph, A.N. Wilson argued nothing could be done to save the Church of England.
There are two simple reasons for this, and there is nothing anyone can say that will make these reasons go away.
“The first is sex. Traditional Christianity taught that there is no permitted sexual act outside marriage. All but no one now – even Christians – really believes this. What used to be called ‘living in sin’ is absolutely normal. Nearly all young people, gay or straight, when they reach a certain moment in their relationship, try living together. The Churches can either back down and say that for 2,000 years they have been talking nonsense about sex; or they can dig in their heels. Either way, the Church is diminished.
“The second reason is a much bigger thing. That is the decline of belief itself. Most people simply cannot subscribe to the traditional creeds. No number of Alpha courses can make people believe that God took human form of a Virgin, or rose from the dead. They simply can’t swallow it. They see no reason, therefore, to listen to a Church that propounds these stories and then presumes to tell them how to behave in the bedroom.”
The Guardian’s Andrew Brown stated: “Like a hypochondriac told by the doctor that he really has got cancer, the former archbishop finds that the worries that have comforted him for years are suddenly, horribly frightening.”
He further argued the decline of the Church of England was Lord Carey’s fault. “If the CofE is doomed, as former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey insists, it’s down to the damage he did in office.”