From the Revd Dr Philip Goggin
Sir, - While there is certainly a case to be made for having
regard to the position of non-churchgoing Anglicans (Comment, 26
April), it is incompatible with any coherent view of church to
suppose that those without an involvement in it could be key
It would be one (very important) thing to say that the values of
"dignity, decency, kindness, modesty, and care for others" could be
a starting-point in growing faith and church membership, but there
is something faintly ridiculous in supposing that holding such
values could constitute being an Anglican.
Yes, we reach out to every soul in England, wherever he or she
might be on the journey of faith and church membership. Yes, we
acknowledge that many, probably most, nominal Anglicans have some
form of Christian belief system, and, yes, we try to build on that.
Yes, we could probably present the gospel in ways that were less
offputting for doubters.
Further, we could argue that we should celebrate the diversity
of affiliations to the Church which people could have: for example,
attending a parent-and-toddler group where a worship experience is
provided; participating in the life of a church school or a
Christian organisation; or occasional attendance at a range of
church services or church events.
But if we discard the idea of participatory membership of the
Body, the Church disappears.
St Peter's Vicarage
Crewe CW1 4RD
From the Revd Andrew Symes
Sir, - Professor Linda Woodhead argues that the majority
non-churchgoing Anglicans should have more of a say in the
governance of the Church of England than those who really believe
the Christian message.
Her observation that "the attitudes of Godfearers [her term for
Anglicans who take God and scripture seriously] align more closely
with conservative Baptists and . . . Muslims than with other
Anglicans" betrays unnecessary prejudice, and a desire to exclude
orthodox Christians from the Church of England mainstream.
According to her somewhat small sample, the vast majority of
self-identified C of E members "take their ultimate authority from
their own reason, intuition, and judgement" rather than God or the
Bible, and don't go to church; and yet this is celebrated as having
genuine integrity and a spirituality in tune with the culture. Is
this really authentic Anglicanism?
Professor Woodhead gives us an idyllic vision of an English
Reichskirche, a religious body that is indistinguishable
from the prevailing culture, and from which the confessional
element has been marginalised and excluded. What connection does
this vision have with the Church of Jesus Christ?
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