Church Of England Crack-Up
The recently concluded Anglican synod decided not to approve same-sex marriage rites, but instead to go ahead and bless same-sex partnerships.
This pleases nobody. Pro-LGBT Anglicans rightly ask why gay relationships are good enough to bless, but not good enough to solemnize as marriage. Trad Anglicans rightly ask why, if gays cannot be married because homosexuality is a sin, the Anglican Church is nevertheless blessing something sinful.
They're both right. This compromise makes no sense. The center cannot hold. If the progressives accept it, it's because they understand that this is how it goes -- it's the next step to full affirmation. This is also a sign to every other church in the West today: there is no way to fudge this issue, or to avoid it. It must be faced. Either the Bible's prohibition on homosexual acts because they are sinful is valid, or it is not. It cannot be valid sometimes, and in some places. There is no middle ground.
What's bizarre as an outsider is the obsessional attention the Church of England gives to this issue at a time when it is declining so fast that is on track to go extinct by 2060. I'm not kidding: it will be dead within a generation or two. And so will the Catholic Church in England, according to a data modeler. Excerpts from The Tablet:
Hayward also estimated the extinction date of each church by factoring in loss of membership due to ageing.
“The Church of England and Catholics should last until the second half of the century. However, they need to take urgent action now. Stemming losses is not enough. None of us can prevent ageing,” he writes. “Sadly, the immediate future looks bleak for the Church in Wales, Church of Scotland, Episcopalians, Methodists, and older Welsh nonconformists.”
According to his model, both the Church of Wales and the Church of Scotland could be extinct within the next 30 years. He projects the Catholic Church and the Church of England to die out sometime between 2060 and 2070.
Hayward highlights churchmanship as a possible contributing factor, comparing churches that are more evangelical against those which are more liberal. “All the evangelical denominations are growing, except for the Brethren,” he writes. “By contrast, all the mixed denominations are declining, with the liberal ones declining the most. Is this because evangelical beliefs on judgement, salvation and Jesus as the only way drive their members to seek converts? Do liberal Christians have insufficient theological reasons to want to spread their faith?”
In a follow-up report, Hayward points to what he calls “progressive ideology” as another potential cause of this decline, using support for same sex marriage as an indication of whether a church holds these values. “The future of the progressive denominations is bleak. Despite the enthusiasm of leaders for the new ideology, they face division and despondency in the church and a faster decline,” he writes.
He concludes by suggesting that the future of Christianity lies in the more modern churches rather than the historic powers. “These products of the Reformation and Puritan times have run their course. They have fulfilled God’s purposes and are no longer part of his plan,” he writes. “God will work through the next cycle of denominations – Pentecostal and Evangelical ones, picking up the pieces left by the extinct historic churches.”
You can read the original 2022 report by mathematician John Hayward here.
It is really and truly amazing that the Church of England is fighting over this, when it ought to be fighting for its life. (It's also interesting that the Catholic Church in Britain is declining at the same rate. I don't know much about it. Catholicism is not generally considered to be a liberal church, though what the Catholic Church teaches officially, and what and how it teaches in local and national practice, are two different things. German Catholics and Ugandan Catholics are part of the same church, but rather differently orientated with regard to the issues that separate liberals from conservatives.)
The Anglican Communion is very strong in Africa -- and African primates have pretty much had it with the English part of their communion. Here's the response from the Anglicans of Uganda, where there are about 11 million Anglicans. By contrast, in Britain, numbers from just before Covid showed only 12 percent considered themselves to be Anglican (in a country of 67 million), and only one percent of those aged 18 to 24:
After conservatives in the synod succeeded, barely, in amending the motion to state that the Church’s doctrine of marriage—that it is between a man and a woman—remains unchanged, progressives scored a decisive win in the main motion.
In a joint statement, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the archbishop of York, hailed a “new beginning” where “the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church.”
The statement added: “The Church continues to have deep differences on these questions which go to the heart of our human identity. As archbishops, we are committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this goes and to ensure that they have all the reassurances they need in order to maintain the unity of the Church as this conversation continues.”
Responding to the recent developments, Archbishop Kaziimba said “God cannot bless what he calls sin.”
“The message from the Church of England today is saying go and sin some more. They are even offering to bless that sin. Brethren, that is wrong, that is wrong, that is wrong,” Archbishop Kaziimba, who is also the chairperson of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, said, adding: “We know where we are going. We know what we believe. There is no hope that we can walk together with the Church of England.”
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It is starting to look like most of world Anglicanism is going to kick out the Church of England. Amazing times we live in. The pink-haired lady didn't get everything she wanted, but she got more than the orthodox Anglicans. And by the time the pink fades to gray, the Anglican Church will be breathing its last in the country where it was born:
UPDATE: Whaddaya know, I am told by a reader who knows Ros Clarke that she is actually orthodox on LGBT issues in the church, and that her beliefs are not what you would think judging by her t-shirt and hair. She is on staff at the Church Society, which is an Evangelical reform ministry within Anglicanism. If I have mischaracterized her based on her appearance (hair, t-shirt), I apologize.
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