(‘The Church of England’s fight to survive’, FT Weekend Magazine.)
Jeremy Paxman’s article about the future of the Church of England is both affectionate and exasperated. While he points out just how far from the thinking of the rest of the country the Church of England is in many social matters, he admires the ‘reasonableness’ with which the Church of England works at them. While he notes the many good works the Church of England can point to, he also reminds us that numbers (of people, resources) are dwindling. ‘I admire the Church’ he writes, ‘In many ways the story of England is the story of her Church, and there is something endearing about its endless anxieties.’
The ‘nones’ (those who when responding to surveys tick ‘none’ in the box marked ‘religion’ but who might possibly tick C of E if pressed) need look no further for a home.
Bishop David Jenkins, that prophet of our time, once was heard to declare that God was not interested in the Church. God was all about the Kingdom. It follows that if and when we stumble upon the Kingdom in the context of the Church, we do not need to look very much further to find God. The problem lies in defining the Kingdom, if such a thing is definable. You could say the same thing about the Church. It is not easy to describe what the Church is, still less what it ought to be, if it is to be true to its Kingdom calling.
This is the last of a series of four reflections on progress. The first was about the ancient idea that a supreme god maintains the universe with a long-term design.
This final reflection looks more closely at a God-based theory of progress.