cofe-funerals-stats
Church of England

Church of England funerals plummet 30% in a decade

Are people living longer? Are fewer dying? In the decade 2005-2015, the general population increased from 60,210,000 to 64,716,000, so why has the number of Church of England funerals plummeted by almost 30 per cent over the same period? Is it because of increased religious pluralism? The free market in faith diversity? Or because there is more unbelief? Does it stand to reason that if church attendance has declined 14 per cent over a decade, the Anglican manner of dispatching the dead to the happy hunting ground will tumble at twice the rate? Why should that be, when it is mainly the elderly who are snuffing it? You’d think they’d want a standard BCP affair – ‘..man that is born of woman.. ashes to ashes, dust to dust..’ etc,. etc., and a couple of well-known hymns, of course. The Lord’s my shepherd… or don’t their children and grand children know these hymns?

The Church of England’s Statistics for Mission 2015 paint a curious picture. Yes, the decline in attendance continues, but CofE funerals have been hit particularly hard, seemingly to the benefit of civil celebrants. Is this at the recommendation of funeral directors? Do they suggest that church funerals are only for ‘religious’ people? Is it because the bereaved now tend to prefer balloons and cuddly toys to ‘In Loving Memory’ wreaths and po-faced vicars? Is it because the local vicar doesn’t want to bury non-believers? Why would a grieving family want to hear that their loved one might be languishing for all eternity in hell? What CofE vicar would preach that? What pastor of any church anywhere would not seek to grieve and weep with those who grieve and weep, living their faith in a feeling community? Do secular celebrants empathise better than Anglican clergy? Is it that vicars are cold, aloof, austere and don’t return phone calls, while civil celebrants are all a bit like Bruce Forsyth or Mary Berry?

The Church of England is there for everyone. When you lose a loved one, the church pledges to be with you every step of the way, “giving support before, during and after the service, for as long as it’s needed”. That’s quite a good deal for £178.

Are civil celebrants cheaper? Do they serve tea and scones? Are their services more bespoke? Are they with you every step of the way, or just on the day? What do humanists offer but the promise of compost?

What does it say about the Church of England’s mission that at the precise moment when people’s thoughts turn most toward eternal life and the hope of heaven, participation is falling at a catastrophic rate? Aren’t funerals a bit like Christmas? Isn’t it an optimal time to share the love, compassion and mercy of Christ? Isn’t that more comforting than a pink balloon and Tinky-Winky Teletubby perched on top of a coffin?

As church attendance continues to decline, so participation in funerals is sure to decline. We can blame the rigidity of the institution or the indifference of the clergy, but the real reason the flock is departing is theological. Man that is born of  a woman still hath a short time to live, but people don’t quite get that ‘resurrection’ bunkum anymore. How can God do that with ashes? How does He resurrect grandma if she’s been compressed and super-heated into  a diamond ring? What about Purgatory or praying for the dead? What happens to grandad if he wasn’t a Christian? How is he forgiven and sanctified? Is there a second chance? How can a baby believe in Jesus? What did a five-year-old do to deserve to die of leukaemia? Why do any innocent children suffer and die at all?

Civil celebrants never have to answer these questions. They listen intently, advise compassionately, organise and orate very professionally, but vicars are expected to give pastoral answers that provide hope; to heal hearts and bind the wounds of inconsolable loss. Perhaps people prefer not to hear a theology of the departed anymore: spiritual truth can’t beat Tinky-Winky in the repose of the soul.

  • bluedog

    It’s not the funerals, but the baptisms that should be the focus of interest. If CofE baptism are running at one third of CofE funerals, one can confidently predict that CofE funerals will ultimately drop to the level of CofE baptisms, or lower.

    This is an institution that continues to lose market share at an unsustainable rate. Shocking though it may seem, the introduction of priestesses and bishopesses appears to have accelerated the decline, not reversed it. Will the management respond logically?

    Otherwise, the end is nigh.

    • Malcolm Smith

      Shocking though it may seem … .
      But nevertheless completely predictable (and predicted). By trying to make themselves “relevant”, they made themselves less relevant.

    • magnolia

      Wrong analysis I think. It is nothing to do with women vicars. In fact amongst the unchurched or lesser churched and young the very idea of not having them seems old-fashioned if not barbaric. It is only a few of the churched, in Anglican terms, and those of other faiths for whom this is any issue at all. If you doubt me try talking to people in their 20s who are by very vast majority baffled and bemused at the idea that women should be barred from this ministry..

      The decline comes because some people fought against the church, the family, monogamy, marriage the nation-state, and other basic building blocks like the hippocratic oath. It was done deliberately at some levels but aided through ignorance or carelessness at others. Careful planning, media manipulation, and advertising, done in stages went in. While Anglicans largely slept lots of what we hold most dear was dismantled- deliberately. Some in the free churches and house churches were savvier on this, hence the “Prophecy Today” editorial board which was unanimously brexit. Unless we become “wise as serpents” our church will collapse. But maybe analysis of Clintongates will change perceptions over the next decade

      • bluedog

        ‘If you doubt me try talking to people in their 20s who are by very vast majority baffled and bemused at the idea that women should be barred from this ministry..’

        In which case the Roman church will implode at an even faster rate than the Anglican church. But is it?

    • Albert

      An Orthodox Jewish friend told me that their local vicar had left to become a Catholic. The reason according to her was that he “was too religious to be in the CofE.” This surely, is the issue: what is truly attractive about the CofE if you really want to take your faith seriously? It is so busy trying to be relevant, that it has become superfluous.

      • bluedog

        One can only agree with this analysis, although there are worthy exceptions at the parish level in the CofE. For some incumbents however, to borrow words used previously on His Grace’s blog, a service is just a Jesus-themed community singalong. Perhaps it is in the House of Bishops that the death-watch beetle is most active in destroying the edifice.

        • Albert

          there are worthy exceptions at the parish level in the CofE

          I’m sure that’s true as well. I think quite a lot if people have commented that the selection of bishops has tended to ensure safe bishops – i.e. those that won’t upset anyone. Have that kind of leadership for any length of time and it becomes increasingly hard for the “worthy exceptions” to get the message out.

          • bluedog

            Human nature is perverse and loves to toy with the forbidden fruit. In this regard, the Established Church is at a disadvantage, and the Roman church has the benefit of being slightly more racy, although this is undoubtedly the wrong word to use. However, this communicant remains dismayed by the intrusion of CofE Archbishops into the political debate. Perhaps they forget they are not in the House of Lords.

          • Albert

            In this regard, the Established Church is at a disadvantage, and the Roman church has the benefit of being slightly more racy

            I’m not quite sure what this means! Do you mean what Herbert means when he writes:

            I joy, dear mother, when I view
            Thy perfect lineaments, and hue
            Both sweet and bright.
            Beauty in thee takes up her place,
            And dates her letters from thy face,
            When she doth write.

            A fine aspect in fit array,
            Neither too mean nor yet too gay,
            Shows who is best.
            Outlandish looks may not compare,
            For all they either painted are,
            Or else undress’d.

            She on the hills which wantonly
            Allureth all, in hope to be
            By her preferr’d,
            Hath kiss’d so long her painted shrines,
            That ev’n her face by kissing shines,
            For her reward.

            She in the valley is so shy
            Of dressing, that her hair doth lie
            About her ears;
            While she avoids her neighbour’s pride,
            She wholly goes on th’ other side,
            And nothing wears.

            But, dearest mother, what those miss,
            The mean, thy praise and glory is
            And long may be.
            Blessed be God, whose love it was
            To double-moat thee with his grace,
            And none but thee.

          • bluedog

            ‘Do you mean…’ Probably not. No, having been banned and driven underground, but now restored, the Roman church has a particular status that is hard to describe. It’s not the Established Church, but once it was. And yet the definition of England in a spiritual sense is so much that it is not Catholic. Just as in a temporal sense the definition of England is so much that it is not French. Now that remark will really cause offence, but it’s true.

          • Albert

            I’m interested in this culturally. I would have though that Catholicism might be thought dangerous in a sense that the CofE is safe. The CofE is so safe you hardly notice it, it’s just part of England. Catholicism seems dangerous (in both attractive and unattractive ways) and as such gets noticed.

          • bluedog

            Completely agree with your view. If you are talking culture, the visual effect of an Anglican cathedral like Salisbury, built by Catholics of course, but with its austereness and simplicity it seems exactly right for the landscape in which it sits. Whereas if you look around St Peter’s in Rome, the interior is ‘busy’ and of course, Italianate, but it is designed to dominate its built environment which it successfully does. Somehow the difference in the style of the buildings reflects the different characteristics of the nations that built them. St Peter’s would look utterly out of place in Salisbury, although it could easily find itself at home in London. But you are right about Catholicism seeming dangerous. Stories about men like Cardinal Wolsey are embedded deep in the race memory. There is always a whiff of Italianate intrigue about the Roman church.

  • I think people are still having Christian religious send offs just not in the Church. The vicar performs the ceremony at the crematorium which seems to be more practical due to the shortage of land.

    • The Explorer

      The problem in those places ill be to do with burial ground: Muslims not wanting to be buried beside Christians. I seem to recall a thread on this blog on that vey topic.

  • The Explorer

    According to surveys, the greatest concentration of heathens is among the young. So you would expect baptisms and marriages to remain at a reasonably-stable low after a sharp initial decline when the new heathenism first took hold. That is born out by the graphs.

    If the concentration of believers is among the elderly, you would expect church funerals to remain fairly high until the generation of believers had died off. That is not the case: from the graph, the funeral is the ceremony in most rapid decline.

    Perhaps it is helpful, therefore, to see the situation in terms of four layers of rock.
    1. A top layer primarily of believers.
    2. A mixed layer of believers/heathens.
    3. Primarily heathen.
    4. Heavily heathen.

    Layer 1 would seem to have been eroded away, and most of Layer 2. What the Church is encountering (or not encountering) with funerals is the tail end of Layer 2 and the onset of Layer 3. That is why its funeral service is not required.

    • Why do you doubt the end is near?

      • The Explorer

        ‘Romans’ says the Jews will turn to Christ before the end. That hasn’t happened yet.

        • It’s possible that the salvation of Israel happens as Jesus returns. But, yes, it does seem that a few things are not yet in place.

          • The Explorer

            It’s possible that an effect of Islamic immigration will be to drive Europe’s Jews into Israel, but I don’t know.

  • What do they mean by a “C of E” funeral. Do they mean a service in a C of E church? My mother and my mother-in-law were both cremated and at both a C of E clergyman conducted the service at the crematorium.
    I suspect part of the reason for less church funerals is the cost; only one church around this area has a graveyard that is still open, all other burials have to take place at one of the local cemeteries, which means that a church service involves significant additional hearse and undertaker costs.

    Off the subject of funerals, I am intrigued as to why so many unmarried parents bring their children to church for baptism. According to our previous Rector many claimed that they could not afford to get married. He did point out to some that they could turn up in their every day clothes with a couple of friends as witnesses and he would be prepared to marry them for the minimum statutory fees.

  • chefofsinners

    It’s all part of the live-for-today eat, drink and be merry culture. The worst aspect is the crematorium production line with its half hour slots and staff agitating to move mourners on as the next hearse pulls up. At a time when people ought to be considering life’s greatest questions they are whisked off to the wake to drown their sorrows in more of the pointless same.

    • Dominic Stockford

      You can book a double slot if you wish.

      • chefofsinners

        At a cost of several thousand pounds.

        • Dominic Stockford

          I don’t think it comes to a vast amount more. And CofE charges are not insignificant these days. They add on a chunky fee for every possible thing.

    • There is for me something chillingly synthetic about a cremation funeral. I find a graveside natural and even comforting. The conveyor belt approach of the crematorium with its canned music, and other aesthetics carefully chosen to provide the appropriate grieving environ is too manufactured, too studied and inauthentic. Death and parting is massaged, sanitised, cloyingly stylised. It is a fitting backdrop for the caricature of the unctuous undertaker.

      A graveside with its earthiness, raw and rude reality is strangely more comforting and closing.

      • carl jacobs

        Interesting post. Made me think. Let me push back a bit. Man is dust and will return to dust. Does it really matter how quickly?

        Modern funerals have become stylized denials of death. We put rouge of the corpse to give the illusion of life. We embalm the corpse to deny the reality of corruption. We purchase expensive caskets as if the dead care about pillows and bedding. We leave the gravesite before the casket is interred so that no one witnesses the final separation. And it all costs money. Lots and lots of it.

        Here’s what I want from a funeral – I want it cheap. And cremation is cheap. If dust was sufficient for David then dust is sufficient for me. Mortal remains don’t mean much. God will once again refashion my body no matter how scattered my ashes. Too much I think we cling to what was instead of looking to what will be.

        • The one virtue for me of cremation is that it is cheap. I’d argue but not too stridently that burial is more Judeo-Christian.

  • David

    To support the comment below from English Pensioner, two thirds of all funerals conducted by C of E ministers take place not in churches but at the local crematorium. Few families nowadays want a burial as this involves the uncertainty of then caring for a grave longterm, assuming anyway that there is space in the local church graveyard. Opting for a crematorium service reduces the cost. A few involve both the service in the church followed by a very short service at the crematorium. But using both venues again increases the costs, considerably.

    The church services are far more satisfactory as they enjoy the luxury of more time. Crematorium services are rushed, literally on a production line, especially as morbidity rates rise in the winter months. The nation, as in so many things concerning infrastructure is relying on a scattered network of crematoria that were built decades ago when the population was considerably lower than now, hence the overly struct time limits on services at crematoria. I would not recommend one to anyone.

    Many C of E services are taken not by the local vicar but by Lay Ministers such as myself. Organising a funeral takes considerable amounts of time and therefore rural vicars, often tending several parishes, tend to delegate the work to their Lay assistants, unless the family or individual has supported the church and really requests the one in the collar.

  • Albert

    Does it stand to reason that if church attendance has declined 14 per cent over a decade, the Anglican manner of dispatching the dead to the happy hunting ground will tumble at twice the rate?

    That is odd – we might expect the funeral rate to drop, but probably at a slower rate than the attendance. I suppose one needs to know what has happened to the death rate as well. After all, the population may have grown, but some of that will be to do with immigration. I.e. they are young and not naturally members of the CofE, on the whole.

    • magnolia

      Excellent point

      .
      I think partly its due to competition from low-cost, humanist or green burials, also partly the whole crematorium thing. But also funeral directors who just want to get someone, even anyone to take something who they can get hold of, and Anglican priests are spread too thinly over a large range of jobs, and cannot always make the day at short notice, so the one who can gets the work.

      Also there may be embarrassment at how few hymns or how little of the bible the family knows, as (non)-education has robbed them of the culture, the biblical knowledge, and the hymns that their forebears took as basic knowledge. Shameful, really.

      It is easy to forget that for at least half of parents who die, it is children who are the living ones who fix the funeral, and parental wishes are not necessarily known, or followed.

      • Albert

        It is easy to forget that for at least half of parents who die, it is children who are the living ones who fix the funeral, and parental wishes are not necessarily known, or followed.

        That’s a really good observation, and it means that the generational collapse of church going is ahead of the generation who actually die.

      • Martin

        I recall a funeral where the hymn was “all things bright and beautiful”

  • Dominic Stockford

    1. Civil ceremony takers are in it for the money – and spend much time drumming up business in the undertakers.
    2. Many Anglican vicars are so busy attending ‘meetings’ that they are ‘too busy’ to be available for the arrangement of funerals.
    3. Many children don’t care what their parent may have wanted, all they are interested in is what they want.
    4. Too many Anglican vicars ‘don’t’ tell people the truth at other times – which is why their churches are emptying and people have no good reason to use them for funerals.

    Lastly, if an Anglican vicar will let you do whatever you want in the funeral, why not have a civil ceremonyist instead? Interestingly, round here, people who want a vicar (or a minister) want a man, whereas people who don’t want a woman – this may have an effect given the increase in the numbers of women masquerading as vicars.

    • dannybhoy

      the recording of Births and deaths and marriages is a mark of an organised, civilised society.
      Once that starts to break down we know that society as a whole is beginning to crumble..

      • Dominic Stockford

        Rites of passage are far more important than people generally understand. Replacing them with happy times and concerts doesn’t work.

  • The Explorer

    I suppose the big counter-narrative to Christian resurrection is Mary Elizabeth Frye’s pantheistic ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’.

    A beautiful poem in its way, the last line’s “I am not there. I did not die.” is surely true if there is no after life. (Although not if there is!) One’s immortality consists in dissolving into ongoing Nature.

    That, I think, is the current default secular view of death, and the purpose of a funeral is the celebration of a life.

    • Royinsouthwest

      In defence of her poem, are Christians (and other people for that matter) where their bones or ashes are after death? Are you wherever you put your toenail clippings or the part of your hair that is disposed of after a haircut?

      • The Explorer

        The other secular immortality is that you survive through your genes.

        I believe Frye wrote the poem to comfort a Jewish girl in America whose parents had gone to a death camp. I have secular friends who find it very meaningful. I personally don’t, and wouldn’t if I were an atheist because it isn’t true in the sense that the poem means. You aren’t still alive if the living can access you only through their memories. You are alive only in the sense of what used to be called ‘pushing up daisies’.

        • And, live on in the memories of others. Well, for a generation anyway.

        • chefofsinners

          Survive through your genes? This is homophobia, surely? Does Frye deny equal access to immortality to those whose lifestyles are non reproductive?

          • The Explorer

            She doesn’t mention it at all. Her immortality – dissolving into Nature – is available to everybody.

      • Inspector General

        The Inspector used to manage a ladies hair salon years ago. Not very successful. He only offered three styles. Long hair, short hair, or no hair at all.

  • carl jacobs

    Funerals are for the living and not the dead. They must inevitably reflect the attitudes of the living towards death. The Unbeliever severs death from moral accountability and therefore sees no need to reflect upon anything save his own approaching nothingness. He does not value what he sees as mere ritual and pantomime. The dead know nothing in his view and the living must simply get over it. That’s what the funeral is for.

    The whole charade is sustained by wealth. Sweet sentimentality about death is only possible from a position of comfort. The prospect of nothingness doesn’t seem quite so intimidating when one is well-fed in the present. The absence of justice does not tear so much at the gut when is secure. He may believe there are no answers, but he is content when circumstances do not require him to ask the questions.

    This is a good thing that funerals are falling. The Church should not provide a convenient ritual to those who would see it as an aesthetic experience and nothing more. The point of a funeral is not to stroke the brow of the living lest they be wakened from their slumber.

    • Dreadnaught

      Coming from someone of the land that gave us the abominable annual ritual of the Halloween Scary Clowns & ‘Trick or Treat’ there is indeed much work to be done in your neck of the woods to set the game straight. Maybe you could customise the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations into the American panoply of commercialised Christian traditions before Trump’s Wall gets underway.

      • bluedog

        Good point. One recalls one’s mother denouncing Halloween as a pagan ritual and refusing to allow her children’s participation. Now it’s just another marketing opportunity, devoid of symbolism, somewhere in the long list of secular feast days that includes Mother’s Day and Father’s day.

    • Jon Sorensen

      You clearly don’t understand “The Unbeliever” and build strawmen in your head. You should go a funeral of “The Unbeliever” at least once and see for yourself what it is about. And go meet one “The Unbeliever” to talk to them about the subject.

      • Inspector General

        What’s the damn point in talking to the unbeliever at a funeral. Only to hear that the late departed enriched everyone’s life by living. One could say the same about the duck which this man ate part of for supper yesterday…

        • Jon Sorensen

          “What’s the damn point in talking to the unbeliever at a funeral.”
          Another one who clearly doesn’t understand “The Unbeliever”…

        • Old Nick

          On Ilkely Moor ‘baht ‘at

      • Anton

        I was brought up atheist, became a Christian by informed choice, and buried one of my parents who died atheist. Would you care to ask me a more specific question?

        • Jon Sorensen

          “Would you care to ask me a more specific question?”
          Not really. All discussions with you dead-end to a random word re-definition game.

          • Anton

            Those who start games here should not complain when they don’t do well at it.

          • Old Nick

            That is probably because of your exceedingly inaccurate habit of mind and speech

          • Jon Sorensen

            I used the common word definition in “World Christian Encyclopedia” by Oxford Univ Press, 2001 and “The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary” study, but you and Anton don’t seem to like it. Not my problem.

          • Old Nick

            Ah the World Christian Encyclopaedia. Never heard of it. Probably a product of the New York office.

  • jsampson45

    If the C of E funeral service still bears any resemblance to the BCP one, it must be a relief not to have to conduct one and say things one does not believe to be true.

  • Bernard from Bucks

    I would give anything to be buried in a lovely peaceful English churchyard just like that one found by John Betjeman. Unfortunately these things cannot be bought.
    English churchyards are to me the ultimate resting place.
    My greatest ‘fear’ is being carted off to Slough Crematorium, although I am told is was good enough for Princess Margaret?

    • Terry Mushroom

      Stoke Poges churchyard is nice. And has a better poem than Slough!

      • Bernard from Bucks

        Yes indeed, very beautiful. Gray’s Elergy rather than a poem?
        I was actually married in Taplow Church, not far away, but will I find rest there with a 3rd runway now planned at Heathrow?

        • bluedog

          You could always have your ashes discreetly placed in the departure lounge…

  • Inspector General

    Greater competition out there, you know. The Inspector understands you can hold a funeral anywhere these days. All you have to do is to apply for a licence. One imagines hotels offer the service now, as does entertainment establishments like Legoland and West Midlands Safari Park and Butlins. You can hold a funeral in Macdonalds, probably, or a children’s nursery during the week. You could even hold a funeral in the Intensive Care unit of the local hospital. Or the maternity unit even. And best of all, your local pub on a Friday night.

    After all, everyone loves to see a funeral take place. They’re so uplifting, aren’t they!

    (Note from the Inspectorate’s office. The Inspector probably means weddings. He’s getting rather confused these days. Age related, we think…)

  • Terry Mushroom

    I’m never sure what will happen when I go to a C of E funeral. Will it just be “celebration of the life of”? Will it be a memorial service, possibly months after the death, with some Bible readings interspersed with secular readings poems and music?

    Will we, the living, be invited to pray for the deceased? Will the principle message just be about how much x loved gardening together with a cv of their life? Or that death entered the world because of sin but Christ has conquered it?

    I ask because I believe Cranmer is right to say that “the real reason the flock is departing is theological”. My last C of E funeral was for a colleague who died young and suddenly. The Vicar said that she had “no explanation” for how and why that could happen. Not even a stab at it. What was she there for in her gloomy church?

    • Inspector General

      hmmm

      Wonder if that explains Ian Paisley’s hitherto unpublished death bed conversion to Roman Catholicism…

      • Dreadnaught

        Ah but, he had a cunning plan: – that it was better all round if a Catholic died than a Protestant.

        • Inspector General

          Remembering the blighter in full denunciation, he would have thought that……

      • Anton

        I am not a fan of his, but I nevertheless ask you to provide a reference for that claim or withdraw it.

        • Inspector General

          It didn’t happen, Anton.

  • Martin

    I know a Reformed minister who was much in demand for taking funerals in the small town where he ministered. He’d also preach the gospel, even if the family had no Christians in it.

    Perhaps the problem is that the CoE no longer knows what it stands for and the general public know that.

    • Anton

      The CoE is in an impossible position as an Established church in a land dominated by secular humanism. I sympathise with its faithful clergy, who are brethren in Christ in the same impossible position. Its liberals, however, take money of the faithful in order to spread doubt, and are parasites on the body of Christ.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        Liberal bishops are no greater sinners than you are. So are you a parasite on the body of Christ too?

        Judge not lest ye be judged.

        Why do conservative Christians believe that commandment applies to everyone except them?

        • grutchyngfysch

          It has been my experience that liberal bishops spend much of their time trying to justify why sins don’t need forgiveness at all. You are of course correct to say we are universally depraved.

          At the point of widest difference, liberals simply do not believe what the orthodox believe. We do not have a shared commonality of belief because there is no point of substance on which there is agreement: even the historical reality of Christ is up for grabs to the worst offenders. All we share is a language – up to the point you include personal pronouns, at which point we don’t even share that.

          There is, naturally, a great deal of difference between the fuzzy theology of feel-good priests and Shelby Spong, though they both exist on the same continuum of error. Generally it is better to avoid looking for reasons to enhance division – but fellowship is predicated upon shared conviction. Where it is absent, it is downright deceptive to pretend it exists.

        • Martin

          OMF

          Perhaps you should quote the whole passage. Beware that you are judged by how you judge. And are you not judging as well, except that your judging is with ignorance.

          Of course, the difference between the liberal and the fundamental is that the latter has been made righteous.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            The passage you quote appears in no Bible I’m familiar with. Is it a new fundie Protestant reinterpretation?

            Quite how fundies can think of themselves as conservatives when they alter all the translations to suit their own prejudices, I’ve never really understood. And quite how they can condemn liberals for doing the same is a complete mystery to me.

            Ah well, there’s no arguing with autosanctification, is there? You’re righteous only in your own estimation. Which clearly appears to be enough for you. You’d better hope that God is as easily taken in by your propaganda and self-promotion as you are.

          • Martin

            OMF

            I wouldn’t expect you to be familiar with any Bible, but then I was paraphrasing, not quoting.

            Those who translate do so bassed on their knowledge of the languages.

            I have no righteousness of my own, I’m entirely reliant of Christ’s.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Your knowledge of languages?

            Tork about shuting yorself at the foot…

          • Martin

            OMF

            Where did I say anything about my knowledge of languages?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            You paraphrased a biblical passage in a way that makes it apparent that your grasp of your own language leaves something to be desired.

            You therefore didn’t have to say anything explicit about your language skills. Your words said it for you.

            If you can twist the words of that particular passage to mean what you wrote then clearly no part of the Bible is safe from your “reforming zeal”.

          • Martin

            OMF

            Really, or is it your problem?

            And perhaps that last paragraph applies to you. Again, are you judging?

        • Anton

          I call them parasites because they take the money of Christ’s faithful yet spread doubt in his gospel. It is an error in logic to conflate that issue with the sinfulness of man.

          In an analogy you may better comprehend, it is as if the president of the National Secular Society were a well-paid position and the occupant spent his time urging people to read the gospels because Christ was supposedly preaching secularism.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            The error in logic is to be found in your accusation that liberals are spreading doubt in Christ’s gospel. What they’re doing is spreading doubt in the traditional understanding of Christ’s gospel. But what if the traditional understanding is erroneous? In that case, traditionalists have spread error and liberals are trying to remediate the situation.

            Of course the liberal interpretation may also be erroneous. In which case each individual can only be guided by his conscience in determining the right path to follow.

            It seems to me that liberal Christians are doing just that. As are traditionalists. But nothing establishes the truth of either interpretation, in which case accusations of heresy against the gospel of Christ are illogical and unfounded.

            Say rather that liberals commit heresy against you rather than against Christ. And that’s hardly a capital crime.

          • Anton

            Scripture is not infinitely flexible in meaning and the question of “interpretation” only even arises in a minority of verses. Read the gospels and tell me if you think they clearly say that Jesus died and came back to life, Yes or No.

    • David

      That’s a too big a generalisation, and a rather lazy one too, Martin. The C of E compromises many different components. Yes the liberal wing, which is admittedly calling the shots at present, as most of the bishops are liberals, are parasitic on the body of Christ. But the faithful clergy of an orthodox, conservative and Biblical persuasion are still there, slowly growing the numbers of committed believers, and faithfully preaching the gospel.

      • Martin

        David

        There are a few who hold to a fundamental position, but most are all over the place. For example the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are hardly known for their Scriptural preaching. Canterbury dances with Rome while York wanders the countryside smiling at people.

        • David

          Yes as I have already said, the bishops are unreliable liberals, but amongst the front line clergy there is a good proportion who are faithful ministers preaching God’s precious Word.

  • pascal78

    Well you can blame Luther for the decline in faith. He got rid of purgatory so there is no need to pray for the dead. These so called reformed ministers are only laymen just like CofE vicars. They have no priestly powers. They are not part of the body of Christ. Only Roman Catholics are members of the true Church of Christ. Let’s face reality.!

    • The Explorer

      If the purpose of a funeral is to pray for the dead, you are absolutely right. But is that its primary purpose?

      • pascal78

        I think the primary purpose is to pray for the dead. There are secondary functions such as marking and respecting the cessation of this temporal life. Social and familial duties etc. .

    • Busy Mum

      How does one get rid of something that wasn’t there in the first place?

      • pascal78

        Do you think the suicide bomber goes straight to hell? Do you think the man who cheated and lived a life of luxury should go to hell or heaven? Don’t you think it would be justice if the life of luxury was purged before entering paradise? Purgatory makes sense and common sense to me.

        • Busy Mum

          I believe the suicide bomber goes straight to hell. The cheat will go to hell unless he repents while still in this world. He will carry on cheating if he thinks he will go to purgatory – and eventually to heaven – rather than to hell.

          • pascal78

            Verry interesting. But you ignore justice. If he repents he must still pay compensation for his sins. That’s justice.
            Mortal sin by the way merits hell. No second chance in purgatory.
            If he carries on cheating in the hope of final salvation he is really mocking Gods goodness. That’s the sin of presumption. All sins will be punished either in this life or the next. It’s only justice after all.
            “Neither sanctity nor salvation can be found outside the Catholic Church. It is a sin to believe there is salvation outside the Catholic Church” Pope Pius IX

          • None of the above

            “Neither sanctity nor salvation can be found outside the Catholic Church. It is a sin to believe there is salvation outside the Catholic Church”

            Said the head of the (Roman) Catholic Church, who couldn’t possibly have a vested interest in making that assertion. In any other walk of life he’d be rightly expected to recuse himself from involvement in any such judgement.

          • pascal78

            He is the successor of St Peter. He is only expounding the teaching of Jesus Christ.
            Deus vult

          • None of the above

            Of course he is. He’s said so himself, so who could possibly doubt it?

          • Busy Mum

            The whole point of Jesus’ death was to satisfy justice. He paid the price so that we don’t have to. The RCC undervalues God’s sacrifice by teaching that we must still pay compensation in some way.

    • None of the above

      “Only Roman Catholics are members of the true Church of Christ. Let’s face reality.!”

      Two more mutually contradictory sentences I have seldom seen.

  • The Explorer

    Paul says we will have resurrection bodies.

    Bertrand Russell used to have great fun with this: Aquinas wondering about a cannibal situation. Who would own the eaten bit in the hereafter: the victim, or the cannibal? Russell mocked those who worried about the speed and thoroughness of cremation (could a cremated body be restored?) compared with one that had been buried.

    It is, admittedly, a difficult concept. Paul’s analogy, as I recall, is to a seed dying in order for the plant to emerge.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    I’d like to see some prices.

  • John

    The whole C of E funeral thing in is based on the model of the C of E as a pastoral church to a Christian nation. Now we have to be a missional church to a post-Christian nation and it just doesn’t fit. ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, you preach the kingdom’.