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Christianity After Christendom

An Evans-Manning Award to Father Jonathan, an Episcopal priest who posted the following to the weekend thread about the Episcopal Church’s steep decline in active parishioners:

The fact that the numbers are going down so dramatically makes it hard for the leadership to maintain the PR fiction that if only we became more “open” and “inclusive” the people would simply flood through the doors. That said, rampant liberalism is not the heart of the problem, merely the result.

TEC, like the rest of North American Christianity, suffers from the moral and spiritual shift within our culture. Even if TEC holds every single view that the average person in the culture holds, there is no general sense of why religion matters, and thus no compelling reason to get up early on a Sunday and go to church. Those who mimic the culture will disappear faster than those who don’t, but everyone is a kind of downward spiral right now related to the fact that we are still operating as if we are the Church in Christendom rather than the Church in a decidedly pagan mission field.

But within TEC uniquely, there is the problem of the loss of a sense of what classical Anglicanism actually is. For more than a hundred and fifty years, Anglican churches around the world have been losing that sense of our theological identity, running after “church parties” and their faddish theologies rather than getting back to the basics of our own Reformation. The result is that we have no idea who we are and thus no one else does either. We don’t know why we exist, so we have been ceasing to do so.

He’s right.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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