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Doctrinal understanding is what matters today

19 June 2015


From the Revd Dr Stephen Laird

Sir, - As a minister working among a diverse community of students, I agree with the observation that, in today's world, young people, in particular, are far less wedded to a sense of denominational identity ( News, 12 June).

Students are less clued up on doctrine, and are more interested in being involved with expressions of Christian life and worship which they enjoy, even if these are at variance with those where they were nurtured. There is no reason, of course, why the Church of England cannot be the winner here.

The fullest sense of denominational awareness requires a grasp of post-Reformation history as well as some arcane doctrinal subtleties, such as those lying beneath the Thirty-Nine Articles. These days, it would probably be better if Christian people of all traditions devoted more time and energy to the intelligent study of the history, depth, and value of core Christian teachings. This would mean that they would be in a better position to withstand the theological tsunami that is latent in the cultural spread of Islam.

From the time of its inception, Islam has seen itself as an "answer" to Christianity, and Christian claims around the incarnation, the Trinity, and, more recently, the Bible have been successfully presented in its intellectual and popular rhetoric as ridiculous.

A conscientious investigation of the many riches in the biblical, Patristic, and subsequent doctrinal traditions within Christianity can yield the resources we now need to make our necessary responses both confident and convincing.


Dean of Chaplains and Associate
Lecturer, University of Kent
Rutherford College
University of Kent
Canterbury CT2 7NX

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