Does it matter?

Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 57 - Apr 2015

This summer, we look forward to our Annual Conference held jointly with the World Congress of Faiths: Seeking the Sacred: Christianity in dialogue with other religions and the world. It should be a remarkable convergence of people from widely divergent faith traditions, looking at what divides and unites us.

Historically, Modern Church has had a great interest in interfaith questions, stemming from its foundation in the late Victorian era when confrontation with other great world faiths led to questions about religious exclusiveness.

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Are we asking the right questions?

by Merryn Hellier
from Signs of the Times No. 57 - Apr 2015

As I read the Autumn newsletter of Modern Church, I found it harder and harder to discover what was 'new' or 'modern' in it.

It came just as I had finished re-reading Voices from the Margin edited by R.S. Sugirtharajah. These voices are all Christian theologians who have to deal with poverty, oppression and severe hardship as a way of life. If life is lived in such conditions, the philosophical discussions of western theology are utterly irrelevant. Different theisms, spiritualities, exclusive / inclusiveness, eucharistic sacrifice etc. are of little matter.

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Evangelism and witness: about what?

by Jonathan Clatworthy
from Signs of the Times No. 57 - Apr 2015

Last month I attended Justin Welby's lecture on 'Evangelism and Witness' at Lambeth Palace.

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The 2015 proposals to re-brand the Church of England

by Ian Duffield
from Signs of the Times No. 57 - Apr 2015

For many years Modern Church has campaigned for women bishops, espoused the cause of homosexuals, and resisted an Anglican Communion Covenant. A consequence of expending this effort - largely successful - is that attention has been distracted from other pressing issues. After all, you can't tackle everything at once.

Whilst distracted, we've seen:

  1. the increasing prioritisation of the 'Fresh Expressions' agenda over parochial ministry with the threat of Bishop's Mission Orders;
  2. the end of freehold with bishops requiring clergy to set annual targets for mission;
  3. a concentration and consolidation of power in the Archbishops' Council and the College of Bishops.

And now there's an episcopal push to re-brand the Church of England—as struggling businesses do.

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Uncertainty, faith and inter-faith dialogue: Speaking about God in multi-faith contexts

A comment on Guy Elsmore's series Speaking about God in a parish of many faiths
by Brenda Watson
from Signs of the Times No. 57 - Apr 2015

There appears to be much truth in all three approaches to other religions: exclusive, inclusive and pluralist.

Christians should witness to the uniqueness of Jesus; they should acknowledge the validity of the way in which God communicates with people of other faiths; and they should celebrate the fact of the differences as people seek to worship God. Yet rightly Elsmore drew attention to criticisms of each. Moreover, if the three approaches need each other, how do they cohere?

It may appear easier to forget about intellectual problems and focus instead on praxis which Elsmore notes as common to all three approaches. He asks whether any speaking of God is 'a luxury when there are questions of appalling poverty and injustice to be addressed'.

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