empty church pews2a
Church of England

The Church of England exists for all people – not just Christians

 

According to Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, “there is not and cannot be a gospel which is not culturally embodied”. He maintained that the missionary task of the Church is to challenge the “reigning plausibility structure” by examining it in light of the revealed purposes of God contained in the biblical narrative. He advocated a scepticism which enables one to take part in the life of society without being deluded by its own beliefs about itself.

Easier said.

The principle of inculturation cannot endorse uncritical acceptance of the totality of any culture. And yet the Church of England adheres to the territorial ‘church in community’ type of ecclesiology which works with the state to define its worship, and through dioceses, parishes and chaplaincies to effect its pastoral care and compassionate service. Establishment commits the Church to full involvement in civil society and to making a contribution to the public discussion of issues that have moral or spiritual implications. In his book Church Drawing Near: Spirituality and Mission in a Post-Christian Culture, Paul Avis observes:

The pastoral mode of mission is essentially the personal mode. It connects with the personal quest that motivates many reflective people in our culture – a quest for wholeness of body, mind and spirit, for wholeness in relationships and in community, for the integrity of the natural environment and for our harmony with it.

By concerning itself with the pastoral dimensions of wholeness and healing, Avis is persuaded that the mission of the Church accords with people’s quest for meaning and an assurance of identity which cannot be found without community, without fellowship. Yet one of the Church of England’s fundamental weaknesses, in common with many churches in Europe, is its tendency to demand that people do not merely acknowledge the Lordship of Christ but also abandon their former way of life in favour of that of a peculiar middle-class sub-culture.

Notwithstanding some of the excellent work going on in some of the most impoverished parishes in the country, the public perception of the Church of England remains one of middle-class privilege and an élitism which has little relevance to a modern, pluralist, multi-ethnic society. While this may be a misconception, it is undoubtedly exacerbated by the nature of establishment and the fusion of the Church with secular government.

And yet it is within the church-state settlement that there remains one of the Church’s primary functions in holding government and political parties to account. The 2008 document Moral but no Compass, although unofficial, illustrates the powerful role the Church of England may still exercise in highlighting the inadequacies – spiritual and political – of the entire political system, in order that people’s welfare may be improved. Pace the secular-humanists, the public realm remains an arena in which the Church’s moral and ethical mission continues to be exercised for the common good.

Perhaps it is only the Establishment Church which, in contemporary society, possesses the status to permit it to fight for representation of a slighted electorate in the face of an increasingly abstract political élite. And yet some of its chosen forays often concern themselves with issues which are ceasing to be of primary concern to the majority of the electorate – issues of equality, for example. These only add to the perception that the Church of England seeks to exclude or is out of sympathy with some distinct groups of people for whom it should have a pastoral concern. This would be less of a problem if the Church’s Supreme Governor were not also Head of State, for by virtue of being so, she is obliged to exercise her public outward government in a manner which accords with the private welfare of her subjects – of whatever creed, ethnicity, sexuality or political philosophy.

The Royal Supremacy in regard to the Church of England is, in its essence, the right of supervision over the administration of the Church, vested in the Crown as the champion of the Church, in order that the religious welfare of its subjects may be provided for. The Church of England exists for all people – not just the Christians. While theologians and politicians argue over the manner of this religious welfare – instead of just getting on with ensuring it – people are alienated and distanced: the Church is thereby hindered in its mission.

It is for all members of the Church of England – not just a few élite and aloof bishops – to participate in the ongoing quest for a distinct Anglican identity in the fragmented, (post-)modern, multifath, ecumenical context we now inhabit. We need argumentation which will soar above the trivial theological and political squabbles of the day and which might take every issue back to first principles – the nature and purpose of the Christian Church. The theological imagination must inhabit the past life of the Church, as well as Scripture and the creative, nodal points of contemporary culture. Scripture, tradition and reason must be brought into vibrant conversation. Ultimately, they must come together and co-inhere in an integrated working of authority in theology and Church. If they do not, we are irrelevant.

We may already be so.

  • sarky

    With regards to the last sentence. … Yes you are and you have nobody but yourselves to blame! !

    • Anton

      Yes and No… genuine Christianity allows people freedom not to believe, and the New Testament is explicit that only a minority will be committed believers in Jesus Christ rather than pagans, atheists or “cultural Christians”. Establishment can either be maintained by State coercion in which case it is not authentic Christianity, or it can leave people free not to believe, in which case most won’t and what then for the Established church? That is where we are today.

      • sarky

        What then for the established church? Think You have answered your own question – no future.

        • Anton

          Why do you think I am a nonconformist?!

          • sarky

            Instead of dissenting, why do you not try to affect change?

          • Anton

            I do. But not from within the CoE, for the reasons mentioned.

          • john in cheshire

            Isn’t it true to say that Jesus didn’t try to bring the Jews (Pharisees and Sadducees) away from evil by joining them and trying to bring about change from the inside. It seems to me that true Christians will always have to live with the truth that Jesus spoke; ie they (myself, hopefully included) will be hated and reviled by everyone. Everyone who is not a true Christian. Isn’t that manifestly true today as it has ever been, for we have no allies but ourselves?

          • Phil R

            Not allies but brothers and sisters.

            Unlike allies, brothers and sisters are always family. No matter how much you dislike them or disagree with them. You will always help them, lend money to them (and not get it back). Because they are family. You never get rid of family. Allies you can discard.

            This I think is the great strength behind the ideal of the Anglican Communion.

          • The Explorer

            There are Christians inside and outside the C of E, and non-Christians inside and outside the C of E.

          • Anton

            Agreed, Explorer. But when the balloon goes up I want to be in a congregation that is ready and understands what is going on, not one that is confused and running around like headless chickens.

        • The Explorer

          The future of the church in England and of England are not the same thing.

          • sarky

            Maybe not, but they are going the same way overall.

          • The Explorer

            I’d say they are diverging.

          • sarky

            A road can diverge and both branches can still go nowhere.

          • Phil R

            Then what is the purpose of the road.

          • sarky

            Exactly!

          • The Explorer

            But different directions of nowhere. My point is, they’ll end up in different places..

    • The Explorer

      Some Christians are poor communicators of the faith. Christ, however, said that if they have not listened to me they will not listen to you. There was no problem with Christ as a comminicator. The problem in the cases he was citing was not the communication of the message. The problem was the unpalatability of the message to those in a state of rebellion against God.

      • sarky

        This is where christians get it wrong. It’s not that the message is unpalatable, it’s irrelevant.
        For the message to be unpalatable there has to be belief at some level. Absence of belief just makes it irrelevant. Too many christians have this idea that atheists actually believe in god but are rebelling. Rubbish. We are not rebelling, we have looked at the evidence and the evidence is not convincing.
        Church attendance is falling because christianity is irrelevant to most, it is slowly being picked apart and exposed and I can’t see that it has a way back.

        • Anton

          I agree that “cease your rebellion against God!” is a lousy and an arrogant way to preach to atheists. However as an adult convert from atheism I do now recognise that that is what I was doing.

          The real reason the message is unpalatable is that it is possible to convict all people of acting sinfully according to criteria that they themselves are willing to accept.

          • sarky

            But isnt talk of sinfulness and conviction, lousy and arrogant aswell? (I.e. Who are you to judge me? )

          • Anton

            Why is it judgemental to ask someone if they have ever lied, ever had dirty thoughts, ever ripped someone off, etc? This is arrogant only if the speaker denies that he too is or has been a sinner, and Christians are forbidden that.

            We warn that there is a judge, not that we are the judge.

          • sarky

            Crikey, your not Ray Comfort are you??
            His ambush of people in the street, asking the sort of questions you mentioned is the worst kind of christianity. If he stopped me I’d knock him out.

          • Anton

            I’m not Ray Comfort and his style is not my style, but you could always just walk on.

          • The Explorer

            Ad hominem argument?

          • sarky

            Ha ha could be, cant stand the bloke.

          • DanJ0

            “The real reason the message is unpalatable is that it is possible to convict all people of acting sinfully according to criteria that they themselves are willing to accept.”

            We mostly have shared ethics even though the morals, by virtue of their alleged source, are different. Except regarding sex acts for most people, and especially homosexual ones for homosexuals. Christian sexual morality is not naturally recognised, I’d say.

        • B flat

          Chesterton said that “the trouble with Christianity is not that it was tried and found wanting; the trouble is that it has not been tried at all.”

          • sarky

            But it has been tried and found wanting by many many people.

          • Anton

            What he actually wrote was The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried. (from chapter 5 of What’s Wrong with the World, 1910).

        • The Explorer

          Note that I said ‘was’, not ‘is’. Christ’s audience who rejected him were not atheists. They just wanted a different sort of Messiah.
          Let’s try a non-religious example of what I was trying to get at. There’s a theory today that there are no bad learners, only bad teachers. That seems to me the equivalent of your position. I think there are kids who learn despite terrible teachers. But I think there are also great teachers of terrible learners; in which case,bad results may be because there are those who simply don’t want to know.
          Russell’s “You didn’t give us enough evidence,” I have great sympathy with. But there are some who don’t like Christianity’s morality. That need not be an intellectual problem.

          • DanJ0

            “But there are some who don’t like Christianity’s morality.”

            Or Islam’s.

        • alternative_perspective

          Dear Sarky,

          “Too many christians have this idea that atheists actually believe in god but are rebelling”

          No, I don’t believe they do. They believe that belief in God is properly basic – foundational to the human condition. Just like beliefs in objective morality and truth. I don’t presume you have decided to refrain from calling rape and murder wrong but in atheism, unless you adopt some-kind of platonic universe, there is no such thing as right and wrong, merely opinion. Thus eventhough atheists can claim to be atheistic, the vast majority do not live or operate in a truly atheistic paradigm.

          Christians believe that all human beings, with the exception of a minority, are able to discern these foundational truths about their natures but due to corruption in the perceptive faculties they rarely come to a full and honest apprehension of this. This is the rebellion we are talking about.

          We are not therefore talking about a denied intellectual ascent of some propositional truth but an inconsistent and somewhat deceitful self-awareness of these properly basic conditions. The Christian may therefore say about yourself that you apprehend the objectivity of certain moral realms and truth claims [morals and claims that have no reality in atheism] but still denies the cornerstone of those apprehensions – the existence of God.

          This is somewhat in evidence by your succeeding statement: “we have looked at the evidence and the evidence is not convincing”

          There are two major flawes or misapperhensions here: firstly that lack of evidence is evidence for an atheistic belief: it isn’t and the subjectivity of “convincing”.

          The former doesn’t really need addressing as its such a well known fact, nicely summed up in the old phrase: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Thus an atheist making the claim “there is no god or gods” on this basis is actually making a claim in the absence of evidence. And someone making a commitment to atheism on this basis is therefore making it on the basis of will, not evidence.

          Latter point is obviously subjective. But this subjectivity feeds into the above point. What degree of evidence constitutes convincing? Most people dismiss the evidences and arguments for God without being reasonably aware of them and even when they do familiarise themselves with the arguments they most often “turn up the sceptical dial”. Thus when it comes to god they act in ways they never would do so in any other facet of life. Take the atheist who makes a life commitment so readily to atheism in the absence of evidence, decribed above, and rejects theism eventhough there is evidence. Even if the evidence isn’t “convincing” the fact there is evidence is still a stronger position than an atheism which isn’t supported.

          So the Christian saying an atheist lives in rebellion isn’t talking about a decision – that’s the symptom – but the interpretive framework, a framework the vast majority of us never question but merely assume. It is also why converts to Christianity often talk about how they once were blind but now they see. That is, their interpretive framework once was blunt, inconsistent and didn’t explain a lot but their new one is richer, more developed and satisfying.
          Yes you’re right. The language is terribly flawed but it isn’t easy to descirbe what I have just attempted to give you a potted version of. In fact I’m sure I’ve don’t it an injustice so please forgive me if I’ve come across as condescending – that certainly was not my intention but as I said its difficult to explain in such a short place.

          • sarky

            You’re not condescending at all :-).

            I really don’t go for this morality as evidence for god argument or that there is no right or wrong in atheism.

            Of course their is. Morality and right and wrong are concepts that have evolved which allow us to coexist. Human beings that can work and live together are stronger and have an evolutionary advantage.

          • DanJ0

            “I don’t presume you have decided to refrain from calling rape and murder wrong but in atheism, unless you adopt some-kind of platonic universe, there is no such thing as right and wrong, merely opinion.”

            It’s clearly more than just opinion. People have a moral sense, unless they are psychopaths. There is an immediate visceral response to situations involving right and wrong. There is much more going on there than merely having formed opinions. Isn’t that obvious?

        • Phil R

          “Church attendance is falling”

          No it isn’t. The attendance of some Churches is falling.

          Globally? Christianity is growing at around 4 to 5 times the world’s population growth rate.

          • sarky

            But you need to ask why is only growing amongst the poor and uneducated??
            Someone once said “the greatest enemy of religion is education”

          • Phil R

            Christianity has traditionally moved away from power.

            I am not sure that the greatest enemy of salvation is education. I would say that the greatest enemy of salvation is wealth.

            You need to surrender yourself to God and trust him. The rich have options, they can trust their wealth or God. They have a second God in whom many of them trust and that God is called money.

            BTW. I have always been interested in prominent atheists who have become Christians. Most do not say that they were totally convinced by one or another argument although the evidence was important. One day, with usually a little thing, tipping the balance, they knew it was true.

          • DanJ0

            “I am not sure that the greatest enemy of salvation is education. I would say that the greatest enemy of salvation is wealth.”

            And lightbulbs.

          • Phil R

            Not I agree even with my own comment after I think about it. It is the relatively wealthy, educated people in China and Korea (now 60% Christian) rather than the poor that has become Christian

          • It is yet another proof that the Bible is true.

            ‘For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.
            But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty; and the base things of the world and the things that are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence’
            (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

          • sarky

            god chooses the foolish – makes sense. I guess he knew that the wise would see through it all.

  • Dominic Stockford

    You include ‘reason’, but reason is flawed by nature of our sin – you include ‘tradition’, but tradition is flawed by coming from men’s reason and thus by the nature of their sin.

    There is only one pillar on which the Christian church can ever safely stand, and that is the Word of God, the Bible.

    • Anton

      Nearly… the church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord, as witnessed with unique authority in the Bible.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Yes, Jesus Christ is the foundation on which the pillar of His Word stands, unshakeable for all time as it is rooted and based in Him and in Him alone.

        • Anton

          Amen!

      • alternative_perspective

        The Bible doesn’t interpret itself. Even where it helps; humans still need to make an interpretation of that.

        Moreover sola scriptura is not Biblical. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” That’s a fairly good definition of scope.

        Furthermore if human reason is so flawed, and it is, and every act of faith is interpreted through our flawed humanity then so also were the various authors of the Bible and therefore so is the Bible. But as Timothy points out scripture is still “God breathed”. God is not surprised by this, nor was he caught out by it. The Bible is good for the purposes God has ordained. God is not handicapped by human falibility.

        But we should not attempt to strech the Bible beyond the boundaries God has placed on it. There is only one who is not flawed and that is the Lord Jesus. Any text written about him may be inspired but it will still be communicated via a broken humanity: unless that individual is under dictation. So Jesus must be the beginning and perfection of out faiths: not a text, however important that text is – anything else is idolatory.

        Moreover I would argue that “a living, community tradition” as an interpretive lens is superior to personal interpretations as a single individual is more easily deceived than a multitude. Individualism in this context lacks accountability or challenge and makes all interpretations highly subjective. It can bring great insight but also great error. Moreover it can embody the interpretive insights of the first apostles and their students and therefore guard against purely modernist and post-modernist interpretations of scripture.

        • Anton

          It is true that the Bible does not itself assert sola scriptura, but I disagree that the bible does not interpret itself. The tradition in which to read the New Testament
          is the Old Testament. Jesus was a Jew who lived in a monotheistic culture forged
          by and recorded in the Old Testament. No church tradition is needed to make sense
          of the Old Testament, as it is not about the church. The Old Testament builds
          upon itself from the Creation onward, an event for which there is, obviously, no context.
          So neither Old nor New Testament requires an extra-biblical tradition to
          interpret it. The Bible is for all
          times and cultures.

  • Busy Mum

    Rev Augustus Toplady, 1770
    ” How great and how deplorable is the general departure from the Scripture doctrines of the Church of England, and the first principles of the reformation”

    ” Your lordships cannot be insensible of the contempt and insignificancy into which many of your clergy are fallen……let the clergy learn to despise the sinful pleasures, maxims, pursuits and doctrines of this world; and the world will, from that moment, cease to despise the clergy.”

    • Anton

      They don’t make names like Augustus Toplady anymore.

      • Busy Mum

        He would definitely be a non-conformist in 2015 – if he could see that the position of the CofE was perilous nearly 250 years ago, he would be the first to recognise that it no longer sits on the ‘Rock of Ages’

        • Anton

          Since then the CoE has moved from being the Tory party at prayer to being the Labour party at prayer.

          • Busy Mum

            Yes, praying that their will, rather than God’s, might be done.

  • Doctor Crackles

    The CofE can’t be God’s church really can it your Grace? 1662 and all that.

    Christians are in the CofE. There is no doubt about that, but the structure and power behind is not Christian.

    • Uncle Brian

      Wikipedia lists 19 memorable events that occurred in 1662 (link below). Here are a few possibilities that might conceivably be the one you are alluding to. Given the recent history of the Archbishop Cranmer blog, I
      suppose the fourth and last one on the list is the most likely candidate.

      May 9 – Samuel Pepys witnesses a Punch and Judy show in London (the first on record).

      May 30 – Catherine of Braganza marries Charles II of England; as part of the dowry, Portugal cedes Bombay and Tangier to England.

      August 24 – The Act of Uniformity is introduced,[1] making mandatory in the Church of England the forms of worship prescribed in the new edition of the Book of Common Prayer. This is followed by the Great Ejection of over 2000 clergy who refuse to take the required oath of conformity to the established church.

      Date unknown – The Dodo bird goes extinct.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1662

      • “Date unknown – The Dodo bird goes extinct.”

        Allegedly …..

  • preacher

    When man seizes the reins from God, he is faced with a problem. In dismissing God & His Holy Spirit, man no longer has the ability, credentials or attributes for the job.
    He has to resort to religious observances, custom & tradition to keep the wheels turning.
    Thus the once living faith is in grave danger of atrophy.
    Man’s answer is usually to add more colour, extra window dressing & larger meeting places.

    Everything creaks along for a time. Routine leads to rote & then to rut.
    Fortunately God has not given up on people, He raises up men who have no thought of self interest, but who love God & their fellow man enough to stand for the gospel as it was first delivered by Jesus to His disciples.
    God empowers them with the Holy Spirit & that is revival.
    Sensing the danger, many establishment Churchmen close ranks & class them as heretical, so the revival which changes so many lives for the better is marginalised & eventually fades as the leaders like the Wesley brothers & others grow older & eventually are called home to glory.
    Much of the established Church breathes a sigh of relief, but the power to move men & challenge Governments no longer remains & they are forced to adopt a minor role & agree to laws drafted by non believing politicians & leaders, simply to stay in the ‘ Corridors of power ‘. The grass roots members are sated & kept busy with social activities & works.
    But the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone is not preached from the pulpits & in the assemblies any more. Men do not hear of God’s passion & love for them, a love that necessitated the incarnation & death on Calvary of Jesus Christ to redeem them.

    So we are left to our own devices reliant upon the plans of men.

    Until the Lord sends the Revival that is needed. Wait & Pray, Carry the word & share it with those that will listen.
    God will not tarry, but He decides when & where the time is right.

  • carl jacobs

    Post-modern man does not believe in order because he denies the possibility of creation. He does not believe in sin because he denies the existence of Law. He does not believe in judgment because he denies he is under authority. Post-modern man instead believes in chaos. He believes that there is no order to the universe except that he imposes it. That there is no Law except that he defines it. That there is no authority except that he takes it up. He asserts with confidence that man is the only known actor in the universe. This is why the church is irrelevant to so many people. They live in a world of their own creation that has been fashioned by their own hands.

    What does the church presuppose? Order. Law. Authority. We go out to them with these things and they respond “Where is this god who rules over me?” They are confident that ‘reason’ has put transcendence in a well-deserved grave, and so they strut about on a small portion of a small speck of their universe and believe they have by dint of human effort unlocked the metaphysical secrets of the universe. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so deadly. If we are irrelevant to them, it is because they cannot comprehend. The deaf do not turn toward sound. The blind do not look up at the flash of light. They stand inert and senseless and do not recognize the destruction that swirls about them.

    Man is not capable of determining relevance precisely because he is under the authority of Law in an ordered universe. He is like those who dwell in a city ruled by a distant king – a city they occupy but did not build. They say to themselves “This is our city. We can rule this city ourselves. The king is not coming. There is no king to come.” And yet even now the king prepares to come and claim what he possesses. And men will find that they cannot remove themselves from under authority by the simple expedient of denying that authority exists.

    The church is herald, and not actor. Its relevance is found in the giver of the message. If men do not receive the message, it is not us they reject. Men laughed Noah to scorn – until the day the rains came and God Himself closed the door to the ark. Then they beat with futile fists on the hull and begged to be rescued, but there was no one to hear them.

    • Linus

      Nobody heard the people banging on the side of Noah’s ark because they were characters in a fictional story and there was no ark for them to bang on.

      Everything we know about the world tells us that a flood that could cover all the lands in ocean for forty days and forty nights just isn’t possible. Neither could a man with Bronze Age technology at his disposal build a vessel capable of holding a pair of every kind of animal in the world. Heck, we’d be hard pressed to do it today. And even if we could, reducing the genetic diversity of every species to one breeding couple would eliminate most of them within a couple of generations anyway.

      Any conservationist will tell you that 250 breeding pairs is the MVP for most terrestrial vertebrates. Once you take into account the prey population needed to sustain predator species alone, it’s clear that you would have needed many thousands of wildebeest and antelope in the ark to keep all the lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyaenas and wolves fed AND have enough breeding pairs left over to ensure survival of the species. Which of course multiplies Noah’s construction challenge by orders of magnitude.

      How big WAS this ark? How many thousands of men were needed to construct it and why didn’t they get berths too? Or did one man and his three sons build a boat that must have dwarfed the Pentagon out of wood and pitch and papyrus stalks?

      Your myths don’t even stand up to the most basic scrutiny. And you’re surprised that we don’t believe them. The only real surprise is that any rational adult can.

      • sarky

        Also if the flood was higher than the highest mountain, how did they all breathe? ??????

        • William Lewis

          They were still at sea level.

        • Anton

          Where do you get that from? Genesis 8:4-5 tells us that the mountain tops (plural) became visible on a particular day. This is often taken to mean that the water level fell below the peaks, but they have different heights and would not all become visible on the same day. Also, the ark grounded before the peaks became visible (2½ months before); it would be remarkable if the ark had happened to snag on the highest peak. It makes better sense to suppose that the mountains became visible as darkness due to atmospheric dust or thick fog cleared. The mountains of Urartu (Ararat in 8:4) form the northern boundary of the Mesopotamian plain through which the Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow, which is the general area where Noah would have lived.

          • sarky

            If the water fell beneath the peaks, it must have, by default, been above the peaks, therfore, the ark must have been above the peaks. Hence my comment on how did they breathe. The atmosphere would have been to thin.
            The whole story is ridiculous with more holes than a colander! !!

          • Anton

            Please look at the account – in the Hebrew with a simultaneous translation – and tell me where it says that the water overtopped the peaks. This is often assumed from Genesis 8:4-5, but wrongly, as I argue above.

          • sarky

            What about life on the peaks then?
            Did the story conveniently forget about it?

          • Anton

            My own belief – not shared by my fundamentalist brethren, but please note that I am not a liberal who calls the tale a myth – is that there was a global cooling event and most of the earth was covered with snow. That would have done for the higher forms of life that the account specifies were killed, while maintaining the water accountancy. There was a flood in the Mesopotamian basin where Noah lived.

          • sarky

            Localised not worldwide. The whole story falls down on so many levels.

          • Come on guys, get real. If there was a global flood, you’d expect to find legends of it all over the world, you’d expect to find fish fossils high up on mountains, you’d expect the surging waters to push vast numbers of animals in ‘fossils graveyards, and if there were dinosaurs on the ark, you’d expect to find dinosaur fossils with soft tissue still remaining. And of course you don’t find any of that, do you?
            .

            https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/

          • sarky

            Answers in genesis??? Purleasssse! Biggest load of unscientific nonsense I’ve seen in my life. Do you know their museum has people with dinosaurs? ?? These people think the flintstones is a documentary.

          • Well, it sure beats ‘First there was nothing, then it exploded, then it all somehow fell into place.’

          • sarky

            Really??????????

        • Linus

          They were on a boat, silly! Didn’t you see that Hollywood epic 2012? It was just like that, only without computers and steel and a female German chancellor viss a ferry dotchee akzent…

          No, the religionists would have us believe that three men constructed a boat bigger than any other ever seen out of Bronze Age materials and somehow managed to squeeze breeding populations of every single terrestrial animal and insect into it, along with supplies for
          40 days and nights and then for at least a year afterwards while they waited to harvest their first crops.

          All I can say is that I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that ark. Lions and tigers and bears having to be content with cabbages for dinner can’t have made for easy cabin mates…

          • sarky

            Sorry Linus, didn’t make myself clear. Even on a boat, at that height, the atmosphere would be to thin to breathe 🙂

          • Linus

            Not if the atmosphere were displaced by the rising water.

            Once you get over the initial hump of crazy into the Christian way of thinking, there is some internal logic in their mythos. Not much and you’ll keep meeting more humps of crazy as you move your way through their version of Wonderland, but they always try to be as logical as they can be within the constraints that faerie and make-believe impose.

          • sarky

            Lol, just waiting for the dinosaurs on the ark comments – that’s where dragons come from don’t you know! !!!!

          • Linus

            Yes, and isn’t the patron saint of England St. George and the Pterodactyl? Or was it Archaeopteryx?

          • sarky

            Ooh don’t mention archaeopteryx!! A feathered dinosaur would hint at evolution.

          • The Explorer

            DId they know about Archaeopteryx when George was made a saint? If not, then dinosaurs are not the source for dragons.

          • The Explorer

            As a matter of interest, how do you account for Chinese dragons?

          • sarky

            I hope your joking???

          • The Explorer

            I think I probably misunderstood your statement. Looking at it again, I stil don’t understand it.
            1. Dinosaurs on the Ark? That’s what I took you to mean. Hence my question: the Chinese didn’t know the Ark story.
            yet they had dragons.in their mythology.
            2. The idea of dragons came from dinosaurs? When did humans first know about dinosaurs? Genuine question.

          • sarky

            When they found the fossils of dinosaurs. I also believe crocodiles were mistaken for dragons. In the absence of science people will believe anything!

          • DanJ0

            The fossils of dinosaurs aren’t actually fossils, they’re tests of faith placed by god. Duh. The earth was created 6000 years ago, as though it had a long, long history! Or something like that, anyway.

          • The Explorer

            Gosse Senior. Satirised by Gosse Junior (who actually misrepresnted his father’s position in the desire to ridicule him.

          • DanJ0

            Extreme protestant interpretation. More often seen in America than here.

          • The Explorer

            So the idea of dragons was around before people knew about dinosaurs. So dinosaurs aren’t the source of the dragon myth. Crocodiles, I imagine, did have an influence.

          • sarky

            They found the bones but had no understanding of what they were – hence the dragon myth. The cyclops myth came from the mammoth skull, just Google it and you will see.

      • Phil R

        And even if we could, reducing the genetic diversity of every species to
        one breeding couple would eliminate most of them within a couple of
        generations anyway.

        Based on what we know of genetics now. However, if we accept that we were created and at that time closer to creation, then the issue goes away as the genetic code would be almost perfect.

        That is the reason that the prohibition on marrying siblings did not come in for many generations after Adam and Eve. There simply was not a need for it.

        On the numbers needed in the food chain. It was a long time ago. We are making the classic mistake it seems of saying that the way that animals behave now is the way animals behaved in the distant past. All I can say it that Noah obiously thought about that problem too and solved in some way.

        Why not become a Christian then you will get to ask him about how it did it yourself?

        • Linus

          Oh of course, I forgot that lions and tigers and bears were vegan in Noah’s time. I suppose the reason why the Bible contains so many references to savage beasts was that men in biblical times needed to be reminded that if they were attacked by a lion, it might steal their mung bean and tofu salad and they’d starve to death!

          And thank you for the invitation to join your cult, but there’s a small matter of the utter absurdity of your beliefs standing in my way.

          • Phil R

            lions and tigers?

            There were two cats (Two of every kind)

            Probably no threat to anyone.

            “mung bean and tofu salad” There you are thinking that they eat the same food as we (some of us) do!

            As you say “absurdity of your beliefs”

            No matter what you will never chose God without God choosing you first. He will always seem unpalatable to you. In case you are wondering, homosexual practice is no barrier to God finding you.

            Whatever he then chooses for your life is none of my business or my business to judge.

          • Linus

            So what did these cats eat during the “number of years” that herbivores were multiplying? Cabbages? Fresh air?

            And who released them? And from where? The Bible relates that all of the animals came out of the ark together. So did Noah then build holding pens for all of the carnivores right there on the spot? Four men instantaneously built strong corrals that could contain many powerful animals and kept them there with only the food they had been carrying in the ark to eat for a “number of years”? Where did he get the materials to build with? Everything had been washed away by a flood, remember. You can’t build anything sturdy using wood that’s been immersed in water for several hundred days. It would be sodden and slimy and unusable. Did they quarry stone? By hand? How long did that take them? And did these wild animals just sit there patiently waiting for him to finish and not demanding any food?

            Highly improbable, don’t you think?

            And how big was this ark? How on earth could it accommodate all the animals and the supplies needed to feed them and still manage to hold together in stormy seas when the only available building materials were wood, and reed, and rope and pitch? Would you set sail in an aircraft carrier hastily cobbled together from vegetable matter and carrying hundreds of thousands of tons of living, breathing, moving cargo?

            It’s all just highly improbable. So improbable it’s virtually impossible.

            Your bible is full of myths. The God who is supposed to have written it is one more of its inventions. He hasn’t told me he exists because he can’t. He doesn’t. So he can’t tell me anything.

          • Phil R

            The dimensions of the ark are as described in the Bible

            If you want to see one I think there is one in Holland and one in the USA

            Remember there were two of each kind. Natural selection within species would make those ancestors considerably different from today.

            BTW. Not all animals eat what you might expect. Not all dogs eat meat for instance and most can survive on a mix of meat and veg like humans.

          • DanJ0

            “Natural selection within species would make those ancestors considerably different from today.”

            But that couldn’t result in speciation?

          • Phil R

            But we have never been able to recreate speciation.

            E.g. The fruit fly experiments with radiation and or other factors changed just resulted in malformed or dead fruit flies receptively.

            Going since the 1950s to a huge number of generations but no new species. (As far as I am aware, the experiments have all ended without result)

          • DanJ0

            That wasn’t the question 😉

          • Anton

            Speciation is not ruled out by anything in the Genesis account. The phrase “after their own kind” which many fundamentalists take to rule out speciation simply means that a male tiger mates with a female tiger not a female hippo, and that their offspring continue to look enough like their parents to be distinguishable from other species. The phrase is about what happens from one generation to the next, not whether they will be sufficiently similar to their great-great-(repeat 100 times)-grand-descendants to be able in principle to breed with them.

            And Yes, there is enough time. The world was created in six YOM according to Genesis, a Hebrew word which means “day” and has exactly the same ambiguity: it can mean 24 hours (as in Yom Kippur) or it can mean “era” (think of “the day of steam power”). In Job 15:23 & 18:20 it can only mean “era”, for instance.

          • DanJ0

            “Speciation is not ruled out by anything in the Genesis account.”

            I’m not challenging whether the Genesis allegory can live side by side with the theory of evolution by natural selection. Phil has a history of scoffing at the theory, despite misunderstanding it as far as I can tell, and that’s what I was picking at up there.

          • Anton

            I must admit that I am tired of the words of my fellow Christians who criticise the theory of evolution (ie the neo-Darwinian synthesis of natural selection and genetic heritance) without being able to state it with any accuracy.

          • DanJ0

            I was told here a couple of days ago, albeit in a roundabout way, that the theory says we evolved from chimps.

          • Linus

            This gets more and more comical as we proceed. Not all dogs eat meat, eh? I must explain that to my ravenous labrador pup the next time she starts slavering over my ankles as I’m eating a steak. “Be content with chickpeas and lettuce!” I’ll tell her. “Crazy fundamentalist Christians have told me your grandmother was a vegan, so it’s celery and aubergines from here on in!”

            Shall I send you the vet’s bill when I have to have her euthanized for malnutrition? And how about the hefty fine for cruelty to animals that will no doubt be levied on me by a justifiably outraged judge?

            As I’m clearly conversing with a creationist here, there’s nowhere this conversation can go except downwards into levels of absurdity I don’t care to plumb. Best stop here, don’t you think?

          • Phil R

            My friend’s dalmatian would not eat meat and lived 13 years.

            Unbelievably his favourite food was carrots!

            Absurd ? Well it definitely looked wrong, but it was true enough.

            The dog would also drink over a liter of milk a day just like an overgrown cat

          • Linus

            Dalmatians are highly inbred and as a result extremely prone to neurotic behaviour. They also suffer from a genetic mutation that makes their bodies produce very high levels of uric acid when fed a meat-rich diet. This crystallizes out in the kidneys and causes them to suffer from severe, painful and debilitating kidney stones.

            This is major breed problem similar to the respiratory issues suffered by bulldogs and other flat faced breeds. It is such a handicap and causes so much suffering that it’s unlikely the Dalmatian standard would be accepted by kennel clubs if it were being presented as a new breed today. Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries however, all that mattered to dog breeders was the look of the animal. Its welfare was never considered and any sacrifice that had to be made to achieve the perfect look, like producing a genetically flawed animal with an hereditary disease that caused it significant distress, was quite simply accepted without any pause for thought.

            If your friend’s Dalamatian refused meat it was probably due to an acute kidney stone problem. Some breed lines are so badly affected that scrupulous breeders end up euthanizing almost all the litters. Unscrupulous breeders are less … scrupulous! So there are a lot of sick Dalmatians out there. Sounds like your friend’s dog was one them. Its strange diet may have treated the major symptoms and kept it alive for 13 years. But in other circumstances it wouldn’t have lasted very long at all.

            Now you might argue that all dogs were originally like your friend’s Dalmatian and could only eat carrots and drink milk. But the Dalmatian’s health issues are due to genetic mutations caused by overbreeding designed to arrive at a particular body type and coat. They are illnesses that if left untreated will result in the early death of the animal, which will die in considerable distress and suffering. If that was God’s plan for dogs, what can we deduce about his morality from that? Did dogs commit original sin and need to be punished for it?

            The Dalmatian is an example of unscrupulous intervention by humans in the make-up of another species. We can deduce nothing about the nature of the proto-dog from the way they look and behave. If the only dogs that walked out of the ark were Dalmatians, there would be no dogs alive today. Or do you think that Noah and his descendents had the time and the desire to grow huge crops of root vegetables and keep massive herds of dairy cows just to keep all the dogs alive? Or perhaps the dogs fended for themselves and dug up roots and snuck into fields and suckled from cows without needing any human assistance. In which case why do they, including the Dalmatian, have the dentition and digestive tract of a carnivore and why does the fossil record show us that this has always been the case as long as any creature of an identifiably canine morphology has existed?

            If you believe that antediluvian dogs were vegetarians then you’re inventing a story in your own head based on nothing but your desire that it should be so and, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, are deciding that it’s true on the sole basis that it fits in with the theory you want to promote. It’s so blatantly intellectually dishonest that it makes a laughing stock out of both you and your theory.

            But still, if you’re really convinced, then it’s carrots and milk for my pup tonight, and every night until she keels over from anorexia and dies. Like I said, be sure to let me have your address so I can give it to my vet and he can send you the bill.

          • Phil R

            I’ll pass this on to my friend as it makes sense of his dog’s behaviour

            I am not saying that the dogs of the ark were vegetarians. I just don’t think you can look at a dog now and say that is how they were 6000 years ago. If we can it points to creationism rather than evolution.

            Put it another way. What if there were 1000 pairs of dogs on an island. A disease wiped out the prey. Would the dogs die out or would a few pairs eat fruit etc to survive and eventually lose the ability and inclination to eat meat

            If you agree that this could happen the surely the reverse is also possible over time. 6000 years is a long time and many generations of dogs

          • Linus

            Evolution takes place over timescales far exceeding 6000 years. Dogs on an island where all the prey species disappear in some catastrophic event will die out. But if over many tens or hundreds of thousands of years the prey species diminish or change in response to a changing environment, then the predators will evolve in response. By means of slow adaptation, one mutation at a time, over extremely long timescales.

            There quite simply has not been enough time for significant evolution to have happened if we’ve only been here for 6000 years. But even if there had been, the fossil record would show us the progression from vegetarian to carnivorous dogs via differing morphology and body structures. But it doesn’t. Any recognisably canine fossil consistently shows the dentition of a carnivore. So unless you’re willing to accept that dogs mutated in one generation from fluffy bunny rabbits into vicious carnivores, they must have already been meat-eaters in the ark, and well before.

          • Phil R

            I have no idea what the two dogs ate that came out of the ark. All I can say is that they must have ate something and if that is the only objection you have left it is not much of a show stopper.

            However, evolution does not always take a long time. We can even influence it ourselves within a very few generations as farmers have done for generations.

            Of course observable evolution (natural selection) only takes place within species.

          • Uncle Brian

            All our dogs like milk, particularly Toby, who was taken away from his mother too soon when he was a baby. Most of them also like carrots, and tomatoes too.

          • Phil R

            Thanks Brian

            We are a no pet family so limited knowledge on what is “normal” for dogs living today

          • DanJ0

            Cats shouldn’t really be given milk, just water. Milk is not good for them.

          • Uncle Brian

            I didn’t know that, DanJo. We don’t have cats. That would be asking for trouble. But is it okay to give dogs milk?

          • DanJ0

            I dunno about dogs. Cats are lactose intolerant to some extent, like most Chinese people. They like the stuff but it can give them stomach upsets. Cats, I mean, not Chinese.

          • Uncle Brian

            DanJo

            That reminds me of something I read in the Guardian a long time ago. You may have seen it. In some remote city in China, where there was no cattle farming and hence no dairy products, a British Council English teacher ran up against a difficulty. His students had learnt the word “cheese” and he had explained what it meant, but they clearly had no real grasp of what it was all about. He arranged with some friends who were arriving from England to bring him a dozen or so different kinds of cheese. He gave a party at the school. Some of the braver students put a bit of cheese in their mouths and pretended they liked it, but the majority couldn’t manage even that. The teacher was left with several pounds of uneaten cheese on his hands, so he took it all home and ate as much of it as he could over the next week or two until one day he’d had enough and gave the rest to the mice that lived under his floorboards. No dice. The mice weren’t interested. They
            left the cheese untouched.

          • DanJ0

            To be fair, dogs are omnivores. It’s about proteins and constituent amino acids, I think. Cats require an amino acid in meat that they can’t create themselves. Hence, they’re carnivores despite their liking of cheese and onion crisps.

          • The Explorer

            In ‘Star Trek’ we might ask that the portrayal of the Klingons, for example, should be consistent: even if we don’t believe that the Klingons actually exist.
            The Bible may be as fictional for you as the Klingons are for me, but the question is, is there consistency? Are there references to savage beasts before Noah, or only after: when, by the terms of the Noahidic Covenant, carnivorousness was also allowed for humans?

          • Linus

            Savage beasts are mentioned well before Noah. Or is a serpent that “strikes at man’s heel” not savage enough for you?

            If you want to argue that animals weren’t savage before the flood, where are all the fossils of these vegan lions and tigers? And why wasn’t their remarkable transformation mentioned in the Bible? You’d have thought it might at least have merited as much of a comment as the various other consequences of the flood.

          • The Explorer

            Note, it was a question not a statement. And I believe, incidentally, that there were carnivorous dinsoaurs.
            The striking at the heel is a prediction of a future situation, not of a present one.

        • sarky

          Doesn’t that fact that you have to change the rules of genetics and animal behaviour to make the story work, tell you something?

          • Phil R

            The rules of genetics are based on the observable now. Clearly, the best analogy is that we are increasingly imperfect copies. This has been known for many years and the eugenics movement was an immoral attempt to reverse this.

            One of the problems associated with with evolution theory is observed, the degrading of the genome within species. If Evolution was true many have argued that we should expect the opposite.

          • The Explorer

            Darwin found that that the ichneumon wasp and animals goring their wounded to death made it difficult for him to believe in God. I agree entirely. We are told that things will be different in the New Earth. If I did not believe that, I would become an atheist again. That Nature is not as intended is, for me, the only thing that makes sense. Otherwise, I’m with Dawkins and pitiless indifference.

          • sarky

            Cancer in kids does it for me!

          • Anton

            Yes, the world has been ravaged by Satan since God created it good. But although Satan and God are opposed they are not equals and one day God will act in power and put it right. We live between those times.

          • The Explorer

            I’m enjoying your friend’s book. Says it as it is, doesn’t he? As one with a life-threatening condition myself, and still in and out of hospitals, I can relate directly to many of his experiences.

          • sarky

            Thanks, I’ll pass it on 🙂

            He wrote it as a way of dealing with the experience (and to hopefully make a few quid for good causes). He is still experiencing effects of the treatment, but has been in remission for over 5 years now.

          • Martin

            Sarky

            You don’t.

      • carl jacobs

        Then you have nothing to fear, Linus. Eat, drink, and be merry, for you won’t die until tomorrow. Probably.

        Understand that it wasn’t an accident that I included that particular example. I knew exactly what I was doing.

        • Linus

          Indeed, it all turns around that word: probably.

          The story of Noah’s ark is, even just from a logistical point of view, highly improbable. So are most of the events described in the Bible, like partings of the Red Sea or resurrections of dead people.

          I’m quite comfortable with that. There are thousands of old stories recounting improbable events that people tell each other in an attempt to make sense of the world. None of the other stories are true and it isn’t the fact that you believe your set of stories that makes them any truer than the Islamic set, or the Hindu set. They’re all just fiction. Probably.

          • Phil R

            No different from today.

            Evolution is extremely improbable.

            It has been calculated at 10 to the power of 84 against.

            Hence the theory of an infinite number of universes to get around this.

          • The Explorer

            There are lots of old flood stories, including in Gilgamesh. They may reflect a Mesopotamian flood. It might have been global in their terms: they didn’t know about Australia. There are still undiscovered species in South America. (Or so it is thought, since they haven’t been found yet.) But we can talk about the known ones. It may have been something like that re the Ark. Mark Twain, incidentally, did a brilliant satire on the Ark: the preservation of hideous parasites that might otherwise have ben destroyed.

    • DanJ0

      All just assertion and wishful thinking, of course.

    • B flat

      That is wonderfully put. Well done!

  • len

    The Church has lost its way!. Christians were originally known as’ people of the Way’ and in losing its way the Church has lost its purpose and its mission which is to reveal and to co- operate with God`s Plan for Humanity.
    The Church has become’ and end in itself’ .The Church wants to get’ people saved’ to give them the Gospel and to’ get them on the right track’ .Once this is accomplished the Church considers it’ job done ‘.
    But the reason for all this seems to have been lost?. “Why get saved ?”people ask,”saved from what?”.
    Why does God want people saved?.(might seem a strange question but one people should ask?) Why does God want people in heaven? God could surely create enough ‘Christians’ to fill Heaven without bothering with a corrupt fallen race of rebellious people?. Why didn`t God completely destroy humanity and start again ?.
    Important questions. One focal point in God`s Plan was the cosmic drama enacted on that Hill at Calvary when it became possible for man to become part of a New Creation born out of the old fallen creation which could not be redeemed.
    God had a Plan before the Creation of the World and He foresaw all that would happen to derail His plan and He laid this all out in His Word.
    What is God`s` ultimate aim in all that has gone on in this sad fallen Creation
    its not that’ the Church’ should dominate this World system and assume power for itself or that any religion should become powerful enough to subjugate everything and everyone either.
    Gods Plan for Humanity is for Christ to rule and Reign over all Creation as He was in the beginning ” He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the
    firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the
    preeminence.”(Colossians 1;18)
    When Christ is returned to His true position as the Head of all things (as is inevitable )God`s Order will be re stored to His Creation.

  • len

    I might add to my comments that God respects peoples free will and will not drag anyone screaming and kicking into His Kingdom if you want no part of it then God will respect that.
    But those who try to dissuade others from accepting the free gift of salvation offered by God will be held accountable for their actions.

    • Linus

      Every

      • Phil R

        Why is equal marriage laws important to you?

        Do you think that God judges you because of your homosexuality and in some way you are unfit for God?

        You are no more sinful in the eyes of God than anyone else on this blog. Me included. I should say especially me.

        Homosexual or not you are completely acceptable to God thanks to Jesus.

        Is the nun in the hospital more acceptable to God this evening than the whore in the brothel? Neither could be acceptable and both could be acceptable but neither through their own efforts of virtuous (or lack of ) behaviour.

        • Linus

          Dieu qui serait Tout Puissant si jamais il existait ! What was that? “Is equal marridge laws reely important to you, me old shiner?” Who knew Phil R was actually speaking to us through a rift in space and time directly from an episode of “Call The Midwife”…?

          Cor blimey strike a light, a cawse equal marriage laws is important to me! And I doesn’t care wot Gawd finks coz I doesn’t bleeve there is a Gawd, so hah can he fink?

          There we go. Do you understand it when it’s spelled out for you in demotic terms or must I record it as a Youtube clip and put on my best Dick Van Dyke impression to get my point across?

          • Phil R

            Answer the question perhaps?

          • Linus

            You want to know why I don’t accept your dogma?

            If you haven’t been able to work that out from everything I’ve said on this site so far, further explanation is futile. You can’t explain something to someone who doesn’t want to understand.

            Suffice to say that for your religion to be true there needs to be a god. It could all make perfect sense (which it doesn’t) and have an impeccable internal logic (which it most certainly doesn’t), but none of this matters unless there’s a god there to hang it all off.

            So where is he then? I’ve looked for him in church and out and never seen or felt anything that even faintly resembles a supernatural being or experience. I’ve never seen a miracle or a sign or a manifestation of any kind. And if anyone else has, they’ve never been able to show any convincing proof of it.

            A religion needs a god or its just an arbitrary philosophy. But when that god is invisible, intangible and quite simply undetectable by means of any of the senses a human being possesses, to all intents and purposes he just doesn’t exist. If he wanted us to recognise and obey him, he’d make himself known to us. So I repeat, where is your god? Show him to me. Give me reasonable proofs that the bible is his word and then I won’t have any choice but to believe.

          • Phil R

            I could show you healing Linus but this does not prove there is a God.

            I could show you evil spirts being exorcised but that just shows you evil exists and it does not prove there is a God

            Many people say that to find God you need to seek him.

            That was not the case for me. God found me and in an instant I believed. I was not in a church nor was I with other Christians. I had never read anything more than a few verses from the Bible.

            My wife also found God in an instant but at a Baptist camp.

            Everyone it seems has a different story about their journey.

            Provided that is they have a journey to God.

          • DanJ0

            “I could show you evil spirts being exorcised but that just shows you evil exists and it does not prove there is a God”

            That doesn’t show or prove evil spirits exist either, and one doesn’t need evil spirits to demonstrate evil. Just people. Evil spirits are religious make-believe.

          • Phil R

            “one doesn’t need evil spirits to demonstrate evil. Just people”

            Agreed

            “Evil spirits are religious make-believe”

            Right……

            I was talking to an Army Padre just just a few weeks ago. Army Padres are not exactly your Pentecostal types.

            Anyway he went on a course back in the UK and found himself with nothing to do in the evening but a local chapel was advertising that a ex-witch was giving her testimony.

            He went along and it was all going fine she was talking about her previous life and came to the point that she became a Christian,when he said he just felt the presence of evil. A guy got up and started screaming at her in a foreign language. She simply bent her head in prayer and let him rant and then prayed to Jesus and in loud voice commanded the spirit to leave him. At this point he screamed and fell to the floor. This may sound mad but is actually pretty standard stuff so far. The difference this time was the guy had dropped dead. An ambulance was called etc and he was taken away.

            So how do we explain this away? He was psychotic and he just happened to have a heart attack at that precise moment she prayed?

            You want to know more there are loads of books but “run baby run” by Nicky Cruz detailing his early life growing up with parents who practiced the occult is fascinating. It is an old book but still perhaps one of the best.

          • DanJ0

            “A guy got up and started screaming at her in a foreign language.”

            Was it Urdu?

          • Phil R

            In the Bible when demons are mentioned we are able to understand them (as far as I can recall)

            I don’t pretend to know all the answers and before I saw the first one I was as cynical as you. I think if you saw it it might cause you to doubt your cynicism.

            Then again maybe not.

            Powerful stuff though and people are changed for ever

          • CINDERFLY

            Boy, do you need to know forgiveness! Your bitterness is getting the better of you and spoiling your vision and your arguments. Read John or Luke’s Gospel with an open mind; set aside your disappointments and your prejudices and just listen.

          • Linus

            What am I supposed to forgive?

            Should I pardon God for the fact he doesn’t exist? Now there’s a logical impossibility for you.

            Or should I forgive Christians for insisting that God does exist and trying to force me to obey the rules they say are his when really they were invented by Christians specifically for the purpose of persecuting minorities and making our lives a misery?

            I suppose at least that’s something it’s possible to forgive because it’s a real transgression. But even Christians admit that forgivess is contingent upon repentance, and as Christians (or at least the flavour of Christian that posts here) show no sign of repentance for the persecution of the gay community and their promotion of laws that discriminate against us, why should we even think about forgiving you? Your own imaginary god won’t forgive unrepentant sinners. You want us to act better than him?

            What you’re really saying in your Christianese vocabulary full of trite and superficial euphemisms and double-talk, is that you want us to bow before your idol no matter what we believe. What you require is submission and obedience. If we refuse, we’re “bitter” (tr. uncooperative and contrary).

            Categorize, judge and condemn me however you like. But do remember that your religion no longer has the power to impose anything on anyone. While you’re calling me bitter, I’ll be thinking of you as deluded, manipulative and more than a little bit off your rocker.

            How does sound as a fair exchange of opinions?

          • CINDERFLY

            Sorry for the misunderstanding. I meant that you desperately need to know that you are a forgiven sinner like the rest of us. No bitterness intended at all; but your bitterness is everywhere evident in your diatribes, which is so sad. I have personally lost blood in the defence of gays being discriminated against or attacked – as my gay friends can attest to – but marriage for gays and gays denying children a mother’s love is quite wrong. The way some of your gay colleagues in the medical, scientific, psychiatric, political, and other spheres bury evidence that contradicts your dogmas is really quite frightening in supposedly free society.

      • Inspector General

        As Phil says, you are part of God’s creation. You have been given a load to bear in your homosexuality. Bear it, and be with good humour, as others have worse loads than you…

        • Linus

          Homosexuality is not a burden. It’s a naturally occuring variation of human sexuality that should never be “suffered” as if it were a disability.

          There are certainly some frail and self-loathing religious gays out there who, having been taught to hate themselves by the Church, and who don’t have the force of character needed to face their persecutors down and tell them to piss off, regard their sexual orientation as a burden that has to be borne rather than lived in full and enjoyed.

          The Inspector mistakes me for one of these unfortunate Uncle Toms. He shares the Christian delusion that all gays believe we’re broken and defective and that we all want to be straight and perfect, just like he wants to be.

          He is, of course, quite wrong.
          Most of us are quite happy as we are and, even if change were possible, wouldn’t want to be any other way.

          He should concentrate on the few who do yearn to be straight rather than wasting his time on me. If he goads them on in their attempts to live in celibate frustration, he’ll then have the satisfaction of seeing them suffer as their hearts wither in the absence of all intimate human contact. Apparently this is the greatest pleasure a Christian can experience – watching someone else writhe in agony “for the Lord” (i.e. for their own twisted entertainment).

          Quite why they’re so up in arms about this whole “Fifty Shades of Grey” thing is beyond me. Is it that they believe they have a divine right to play the sadists and take pleasure in the pain of others, and that anyone else who does it is usurping their God-given right to get themselves off at the expense of others? I suppose that must be it.

          How very strange…

          • Inspector General

            Fair enough, homosexuality is not a burden then, and you should all be enjoying your freedoms in the UK form the 1967 legislation. But that’s not the case for all, is it. Take Same Sex Marriage. You’d think that concession would
            have your community at peace. Oh no. Far from it. Purists are still complaining about the ‘differences’ with traditional real marriage. One of them is some gripe over pension rights, but there are others. The states refusal to accept
            the act of buggery as consummation of a gay marriage. Also, a similar refusal to accept infidelity as a reason to end the thing. The ban of this nonsense being performed in an Anglican church is another. So it’s not the same as real marriage then, as if this mad concept of equality can be pinned down and not be the abstract quantity it is. If you don’t feel equal now, you’ll never feel equal, and the reason there is that you are different. Equal but different.

            Like the rest of the activists, you have no hope of coming to terms with life in a heterosexual world geared up for the production of the next generation. You say yourself you’d have to be an Uncle Tom to do that. That the fictitious Uncle Tom was seemingly at peace and thus resigned to the world as he saw it, black skinned as he was, escapes you. But what would you say to a man in a wheelchair campaigning to have every last staircase demolished…

            Will you ever find peace is a question you should be asking yourself. It would involve realising there are legions more Christians than homosexuals around, and even if you could banish us all, you’d still be up against the
            atheists who do homosexuals physical harm. Christians don’t do that. So, whether you recognise your burden or not is up to you. If you do, then perhaps your burden will lighten, but it won’t go away. You won’t allow it to.

          • Linus

            The disabled want access to buildings. They don’t want to deny access to others. But if you paint them as militants who want to get rid of all staircases then you can frighten the stupider individuals among the able-bodied into believing that any concession to the disabled will disadvantage them. You want things to stay just the way they are, with the wheelchair-bound at your mercy where you can pity and patronize them. Makes you feel better about your own inadequacies, doesn’t it? “At least I’m better than them”, is what you think.

            Your attitude to gays is just the same. Keep ’em down and miserable where you can lord it over them and feel better about your own failings. So no marriage for queers. Good Lord, why should they have a crack at happiness and contentment when you’ve failed to find them?

          • The Explorer

            The Inspector has a point. A marriage can be annulled for non-consummation: interpreted as non-penetration. This, I believe, is waived with same-sex marriage. Why, if the types of marriage are equivalent?

          • DanJ0

            Why is consummation a requirement to make a marriage fully recognised in law? We have no-fault divorce now too so it’s not a fully binding contract anyway.

          • The Explorer

            Don’t know, but look up Youguv marriage annulment for nonconsummation uk. QUicker than divorce. It says in brackets that nonconsummation does not apply to same-sex couples.

          • DanJ0

            Our marriage law(s) is a bit of a mess now as the changes were rushed through.

            I expect the consummation thing relates back to hereditary titles, property, etc, where an heir was very important to the families involved. It’s an anachronism as far as I can see, irrespective of same-sex marriage.

            If one hasn’t had sex before marriage today, and the husband turns out to be impotent, or the wife turns out to have a hole like a mouse’s ear, then the marriage contract could be terminated pretty easily.

          • The Explorer

            I’m not sure that the comparison with the disabled works. Provision for the disabled is a symptom of a compassionate society, but it is predicated on difference. Sensing this, and seeing the implications, PC preferred the term ‘otherwise abled’. But if the disabled are simply otherwise abled, there is no need to make special provision for them, any more than for the left-handed. Otherwise abled foundered accordingly. Disabled parking does not mean that disabled people cannot vote, make wills etc, but it is still a frank admission of difference. Otherwise there woud be no need for its existence.

          • DanJ0

            It’s equality of access, not equality as sameness. Drop kerb stones remove barriers for getting around. Wider doors and no ramps allow people to go shopping like everyone else. Etc.

          • Inspector General

            It’s all about fitting in. It’s not just the disabled who have to do that. You have your civil partnership business. No objection from this man over that. But no, it wasn’t enough, because it never is enough. Because you militants want to run society for your own ends, and when you’re stopped, the bile is forthcoming, and we’re all bigots again…

      • len

        Well Linus if you have knowledge of everything in existence material and spiritual then you would have the right to make some of the statements you have.
        Can I conclude this is the case?.

    • Shadrach Fire

      Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

    • sarky

      God will respect that???? No he won’t, he will condemn you to eternity in hell.

      • Phil R

        Would they want a lifetime with God?

      • Inspector General

        Can’t believe in a hell in a classical sense. More likely that if you reject the Creator, then on death you will simply cease to be. That way, everyone’s a winner, as the Hot Chocolate song had it…

        • sarky

          Fine by me. An eternity praising god sounds pretty awful!

          • Inspector General

            None of us Christ types would ever subject you to that…

    • Martin

      Len

      And what of:

      And the master said to the servant, Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:23 [ESV]

      Did Saul become Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, of his own free will?

  • The Explorer

    England exists for all people, not just the English. Same principle. Is there an issue of proportionality, however? Is there a point at which it becomes a microcosm of the world and ceases to be that which once made it England? In which case, doesn’t it need renaming: World Zone 23, or whatever? Or Airstrip One?

    If the C of E is not just for Christians, shouldn’t it be renamed as well? Airstrip One Social Club? World Zone 23 Community Initiative? Take your pick, whatever your belief system.

  • Inspector General

    Right then. Which of you rotters are deriding the Middle Class?

    For many, aspiring to be Middle Class is the best self improvement they can make. The lower orders are not that for nothing. They take drugs, drink excessively, swear at each other, cheat their own fellows, and beat their women in many cases. And their sexual behaviour is a disgrace. Bloody awful people, and well worth avoiding. Besides, they have their own religion. A tribal attachment to some football team which satisfies their spiritual needs. THAT is why the church is driven by middle class types.

    It just shows how ingrained blasted socialism is in this country. The very idea that this crowd is the Inspector’s equal fills him with horror. And it should do to the rest of you too.

    Bah!

  • Darter Noster

    “Scripture, tradition and reason…must come together and co-inhere in an integrated working of authority in theology and Church. If they do not, we are irrelevant.”

    By that definition, the Church of England has been irrelevant since 1534.

  • Shadrach Fire

    This post Your Grace is somewhat convoluted if I may say. However, I would say the the CofE churches do exist to serve the community at large. They are obliged to christen infants, marry couples and bury the dead of the parish, regardless of whether the individuals attend the church or not. This may seem an onerous task for the church seeing that the regular worshipers pay for the upkeep of the building. But just being there for the people and engaging with the community without any expectation of response, shows an attitude of caring and giving. A characteristic of Christ.

    • Peter Wood

      Shadrach states the position in most churches admirably. Oddly, if His Grace is so class-obsessed that he wants to make it a source of division, let me add that it is often the less-than-liberal LMC evangelical clergy who set the bar for baptism so high that uncertain non-churchgoers take their infants elsewhere. Thes people are destroying the rural church’s roots in the community.

  • ” … take every issue back to first principles – the nature and purpose of the Christian Church.”

    The first principle is the nature and purpose of man. The mission of the Church flows from this.

    • Martin

      HJ

      And that is:

      “Man’s chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him for ever (Ps. 73:25-26).”

      The Church’s purpose is not to serve our community.

      • God made us to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven..
        To gain the happiness of heaven we must know, love, and serve God in this world.

        Jack never said the Church’s purpose was to serve the community.

        Jesus Christ founded the Church to bring all men to eternal salvation.
        The Church is enabled to lead men to salvation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who gives it life.

        • Martin

          HJ

          We gain ‘the happiness of Heaven’ because Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.

          Christ died to save His people, and them alone, from their sin. God gives them the new birth which causes them to repent and seek God.

          The Church is those gathered people of God, not any hierarchy.

  • Yet one of the Church of England’s fundamental weaknesses, in common with many churches in Europe, is its tendency to demand that people do not merely acknowledge the Lordship of Christ but also abandon their former way of life in favour of that of a peculiar middle-class sub-culture.

    Just take a look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. We are commanded to make disciples, baptize them (in that order!) and teach them to observe the commandments of Christ. That will undoubtedly mean that people abandon their former way of life, and if they give up binge drinking, gambling, petty crime and other vices, they will naturally find themselves moving up from a lower-class sub-culture to a middle-class one. The Gospel always leads to social improvement and that is to be welcomed, not deplored.

    • Anton

      That is an accurate description of lower class culture in the era of the Welfare State but I suggest that before WW2 the morality of the poor was every bid as good as that of the middle class in Britain, and better than that of the wealthy.

      • Martin

        Anton

        Morality is not an aspect of class, but when the gospel enters the heart of a man he will cease doing those things which drag him down to penury.

  • dannybhoy

    These only add to the perception that the Church of England seeks to
    exclude or is out of sympathy with some distinct groups of people for
    whom it should have a pastoral concern. This would be less of a problem
    if the Church’s Supreme Governor were not also Head of State, for by
    virtue of being so, she is obliged to exercise her public outward
    government in a manner which accords with the private welfare of her
    subjects – of whatever creed, ethnicity, sexuality or political
    philosophy.

    Exclude which groups?

    This would be less of a problem
    if the Church’s Supreme Governor were not also Head of State, for by
    virtue of being so, she is obliged to exercise her public outward
    government in a manner which accords with the private welfare of her
    subjects – of whatever creed, ethnicity, sexuality or political
    philosophy

    I hold no candle for the Cof E. It is an outdated byzantine structure which lends itself to bureaucracy, hierarchy, privilege and snobbery. It particularly appeals to lovers of tradition and ritual. Has anyone ever noticed that?
    Even the ‘modernisers’, the ‘equal opportunity squad’ and the ‘LGBT covert operations agencies’ love the dressing up, the hats, the robes, the rings and things, the little observances of rank, the fawnings and plottings..

    Yet in spite of all that it remains an integral part of the historical development of our culture and institutions, of what makes us distinctively British.
    I would like to see the disestablishment of the CofE but my personal fear is that by throwing itself open to be moulded by various multicultural, diverse religious considerations it will result in the loss of our own sovereign identity.

    Instead of us being the indigenous British people who have welcomed/accepted/suffered/gritted our teeth over various waves of immigration, we will become just one of a number of ethnic communities jostling for position and recognition. I fear that everything we have stood for and understood may be swept away for ever.

    By all means let’s have a re-evaluation and reform of the Church of England, but in doing so we must carefullly consider the implications.

  • Mike Stallard

    What the Church of England needs is more bishops. – oh and lots more archdeacons and deans too. That way the plentiful supply of Bishops can be maintained. Warmly supported by lots and lots of diocesan staff, they can supervise the wayward clergy and bring progress and equality and prevent unnecessary risks like leaving the churches open for casual visitors and proclaiming the gospel in a way ordinary people can understand.
    Essential topics like the appointment of Grannies, the Place of Homosexuals and Payment of the Quota are paramount.