Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 63 - Oct 2016

As this year’s conference secretary, I am hardly the person to give an unbiased account of our 2016 Annual Conference, but Jonathan Clatworthy’s article in this issue gives something of its flavour.

Here indeed were shared conversations that did not fail, in which a wide range of contributors, not all of them self-identified liberals, offered the fruit of their reflections on Shakespeare and faith in a way which manifestly excited even those participants who did not see themselves as followers of the Bard. Perhaps, as Brenda Watson’s article in our last edition implied, his works are the nearest thing we in the English-speaking world have to the sort of shared ‘grand narrative’ whose absence Jonathan seems to regret. But we immediately come across a paradox.

by Alan Race
from Signs of the Times No. 63 - Oct 2016

Theological liberalism is more a habit of mind than an explicit school of Christian thought.

It accepts that Christian believing is a matter of exploration, response to experience, interpretative capability and coming to the best judgement of what can be said at any one time within the historical constraints operating at any one time. It is happier with notions of ’glimpsing’ Christian truth than with ‘dogmatic knowing’ by revelation.

Ian Robins responds to the Blackburn Diocesan Vision 2026, a document similar to those currently promulgated in a number of Dioceses.
from Signs of the Times No. 63 - Oct 2016

If we are to respond to the Vision of churches healthy enough to transform local communities, we will have to learn and present a Gospel based on a different Biblical narrative from the one that is currently the substratum of our liturgies, hymns, preaching and teaching.

Only so will we begin to answer the questions of ‘belonging’, ‘life purpose’ and ‘security’ that the Bishop of Burnley poses.

by Nicholas Henderson
from Signs of the Times No. 63 - Oct 2016

The recent changes in residential and allied qualifications for marriage in Church of England churches granted by the General Synod (Marriage Measure 2008 Qualifying Connections) are helpful but do not go far enough in enabling clergy to reach out to those many enquirers seeking a religious service of marriage.

(I understand that the Synod did at one point - before a call for a vote by Houses - vote to remove all residential restrictions from those seeking marriage in Church of England churches. The subsequent vote by Houses restricted this to an easing of the very strict previous qualifications required).

by Trevor Pitt
from Signs of the Times No. 63 - Oct 2016

Can a robust case for Christianity be made in an increasingly anti-religious culture without watering down its main tenets?

Rupert Shortt, a journalist and religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement, in this brief but incisive book mounts the charge that waning levels of belief in God represent popular trends which actually rest on nothing more than a series of misrepresentations or caricatures.