The idea of a family united at the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day is out, and the individualism of the “eight-o’clock” is back, with the difference that the service must be entertaining, and the day and time convenient for “me”. The clergy collude with this, for the sake of numbers. Is this analysis of the spirit of today’s C of E fair?
There is evidence of clergy collusion in promoting individualism for the sake of numbers. Numerical decline in the worshipping population is a challenge to all, especially because of the financial problems it creates.
I have heard clergy advance the case for boring services: they encourage the feelings of virtue for having done one’s duty. But most clergy feel that services should be interesting, if not challenging.
The truth is that most clergy want to boost their numbers, and, in doing so, to bring people to Christ, however they understand that. The line, difficult to draw, is where speaking to the culture ends and collusion with secularism begins.
Steve Bruce, in his book God is Dead, argues that even conservative Evangelical ministers are forced to secularise their gospel, using methods reminiscent of Live at the Apollo, laced with hypnotic choruses and an encouragement to bonhomie, but virtually empty of serious theological content. In other words, megachurches have won the battle but lost the war.
The culture of individualistic autonomy is rife. The hard task is to (re)discover a convincing epistemology. “Family” is out; so is “biblical authority”. The real battleground is in the argument about what it truly means to be a person, and whether humanism without transcendence can ever be up to the job.
(Canon) R. H. W. Arguile
Wells next the Sea, Norfolk
In “O for a thousand tongues to sing”, what does “He breaks the power of cancelled sin” mean?
I have noticed priests using iPads to read the Offices, services, and also the Gospel at the eucharist. Is raising the iPad after the reading and kissing it now an accepted norm?
D. J. M.
Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.