Cameron - Alan Wilson2a
Church of England

The way the Church does politics is largely ineffective

This is a guest post by the Rev’d Stephen Heard – Assistant Priest at St Mark’s Church, Enfield. He is a former civil servant with a background in political and media relations, and was Parliamentary Chaplain to the Bishop of London 2007-2013. He tweets at @seheard and is author of the Unheard Melodies blog.

______________

“The mood of Church of England bishops judging by Twitter was, by and large, glum.” So reported the Church Times post election. To be fair, this overall glumness of mood was inferred from the responses of the small handful who felt moved to comment publicly on the outcome. Among them was the Bishop of Sheffield, who blogged a personal sermon to the Prime Minister, urging him to “read and ponder” the lessons about accepting and weighing advice in the story of Rehoboam in 1Kings 12. The moral of the story – that the new King should reach out to his father’s enemies, rather than punish them for their opposition – will not have been lost on the Prime Minister, were there but the smallest chance that he had read the Bishop’s blog and had a few moments to ponder its import. He almost certainly – predictably – will not have done so; and we realise that the sermon is really for us, the voters. We are the ones who, rather surprisingly (one imagines a raised episcopal eyebrow) have returned him to power, and whose duty it is to keep up the pressure on him – to “listen to all the people, to lighten burdens, and to build one nation, for the benefit of all”. This is advice so unexceptionable that I’m sure the Bishop would have offered it in the same spirit if Ed Miliband had squeezed into No.10, as predicted.

The Bishop of Leeds wondered rather gloomily if what we have “settled for” is “a market society (as opposed to a market economy)”. For “if we have, we are stuffed”. I take “stuffed” in this context to be synonymous with “doomed”, pace Private Frazer in ‘Dad’s Army’. I never argue with bishops, but I doubt we are doomed. In similar mood, the Bishop of Chelmsford tweeted: “All manner of things may not be quite as well as some of us hoped” – respectful, evidently, of the many others for whom things had turned out better than they could have dreamed. The Bishop of Sodor & Man confined his comments to the need for a change to the voting system, which I imagine he has called for at previous elections.

Now I daresay that these few responses do not capture the feelings of all CofE bishops, some of whom may even have voted Conservative. But they throw an interesting light on the Church’s ability to step up to the plate and take on the mantle of semi-official Opposition, now that the LibDems have a much smaller voice in Parliament and while Labour is preoccupied with appointing a new leader. This is a call made persuasively by Gillan Scott, who wants the Church to provide “a level of external conscience watching over the new Conservative Government”. We have to consider how well-equipped the Church is to fulfil this unexpected calling (presumably the ‘conscience’ bit would have been less demanding if Labour had won) and how likely it is to be able influence Government policy and behaviour.

After the 2010 election, things looked modestly bright for a new relationship between Government and Church. Coalition ministers were not encumbered by New Labour’s allergy to ‘doing God’; some of them were unapologetic Christians, naturally attuned to the pastoral work that the churches do in ordinary communities, and keen to recognise their role in the big society. They dared to hope that the Church did not hate them as they had feared. Bridges were tentatively built. It is difficult to overstate how hard this tender shoot was frosted by the remarks of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his editorial in the New Statesman published on 9 June 2011. Under the headline ‘The government needs to know how afraid people are‘, Archbishop Rowan complained about “radical, long-term policies for which no-one voted”. It was by no means an unreasoned attack, but it did appear to come out of nowhere, and ministers were genuinely wounded by it. They felt they were doing a difficult job (rescuing a comprehensively crashed economy) under difficult circumstances (a coalition between parties which by nature had little in common) and making a reasonable fist of it. But the damage was done. The temperature dropped a few crucial degrees, and it was back to business as usual: bishops and other Church leaders writing open letters critical of government policy to national newspapers, making other public interventions in the same vein, and then in the run-up to the 2015 General Election issuing a report that was widely received as endorsing Labour (including by Labour itself). This is how the Church does politics these days, and it is, as we see, largely ineffective.

When you want to influence someone, it is generally a good a idea not to start by publicly attacking them. You embarrass them, force them on to the defensive, give comfort to their critics, and make them less likely to listen to you next time. And in the political context, if you keep doing it, you become just another reliably hostile voice among many. You generally achieve little. A good deal of the work that is done in Parliament is done not in its debating chambers, but in its corridors, tea-rooms and bars. The people who make and implement policy and those elected and appointed to hold them to account are often enough under the same roof, and they are allowed to speak to each other. “A word in your ear, Minister?” is a perfectly proper way of bringing a concern to the person who has responsibility for the policy that relates to it, and is likely to be better received than a letter to the Times (or even a letter to the person). By means of face-to-face contacts, relationships can be built and a measure of trust established. The Church of England is unique in having bishops in Parliament: they walk the same corridors as government ministers – who generally do not bite.

Fewer speeches, open letters and hostile blogs, and more conversations – this is the surest route to influencing policy. To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war, even between bishops and Tories. We wait to see whether this is a plate the Church can step up to, and whether the lesson of Rehoboam is one it, too, can hear.

  • David

    It has long seemed to me that C of E bishops always fail to balance the good that left wing policies can do against the harm they also cause; conversely they are blind to the undoubted good that right wing policies have whilst always pointing to the harm. In short they are biased, towards just one way of seeing the world.
    Added to that is the serious disadvantage of their near total impracticability of most senior clerics. The vast majority simply have no experience of things like balance sheets, human nature in operation in the secular world or how one goes about motivating ordinary, everyday people. Archbishop Welby is an exception to this, which may be why he displays greater practical wisdom than most of the College of Bishops.
    It also amazes me how the Bishops are enthusiastic about a sense of community and belonging, until one reaches the scale of a country, when suddenly the top down, undemocratic EU becomes a far better thing than ones own nation.
    On this as on so many other fronts, I see the hierarchy as perhaps one of the greatest disadvantage that the C of E unfortunately possesses.

    • Busy Mum

      I have often pointed this out at school; the wonderful(!) PSHE sessions discussing the children’s ‘sense of belonging’, which actually means they can belong to any group of human beings except their own family (real family, blood relations – that old fashioned concept, rmember?!) – and their ‘identity’ starts with their village and school and ends with the government. A ‘community’ is what one must belong to but extrapolate this ‘sense of belonging’ to the largest community – the nation – and suddenly you are labelled as an ardent right-wing nationalist! Surely patriotism is the noblest ‘sense of belonging’ anyone can have?
      It’s all crackers anyway – we never doubted whether or not we ‘belonged’ when I was at school.

      • David

        Well said !
        This new “wisdom” will collapse in time, but leaving a trail of misery and chaos behind it – a trail that criss crosses the entire EU, if not the entire western world. I do hope we can escape from its clutches soon.

    • Watchman

      The politics of the left wants to relieve man’s suffering, to wrap him in cotton wool and mop his brow went things get uncomfortable. It sees no justice in the principle that what a man sows, that he also reaps. Jesus did not offer us any of this on this earth and promised that as He suffered so must we if we follow Him. Jesus said that if we love Him we must obey Him and this means extending His Kingdom, not trying to featherbed those outside the Kingdom.

      • David

        Well put !
        You are right. Socialism seeks to separate us from the consequences of our actions, which is the opposite of the Christian message.

  • Martin

    Perhaps the biggest problem the CoE has is that its bishops do not appear to be Christians at all.

    They are no called to be politicians but they seem to want to influence politics based on their beliefs, not on what the Bible says.

    If they had been truly doing their job they would have opposed the ‘same sex marriage’ proposals with all the resources they had. As it was, they seemed to make half-hearted mutterings of disapproval and that is all. Indeed, the bishops in the House of Lords failed to vote against it at the end. Their disgraceful behaviour has let down the Christians in this land, both those remaining in the CoE and those in other churches.

    Frankly the sooner Christians leave the CoE to collapse under its weight of unbelief the better. Then we will no longer have a pseudo church propped up by those who believe.

    • Watchman

      Indeed, Martin, an apostate church is one of the signs we were given for the coming of Christ in glory. It looks as though this is upon us. They do not uphold God’s Word as truth and seem able to turn their hands to anything but preaching the gospel.

    • JCF

      “If they had been truly doing their job they would have opposed the ‘same
      sex marriage’ proposals with all the resources they had.”

      Because the CofE wasn’t becoming irrelevant fast enough?

      • Martin

        JCF

        The CoE became even more irrelevant by failing in that respect.

  • CliveM

    For me it is wearying to be lectured by someone who doesn’t appear to have the skill set to understand what it is they are talking about. And to be honest the comments (from some of the usual suspects at least) seem to lack grace or at least the humility to acknowledge their limitations.

    It isn’t the Church of England’s role to act as opposition to the Govt. It’s role is to engage with it and preach the Gospell.

  • preacher

    “The Church of England is unique in having Bishops in Parliament” True, but are they capable of communicating spiritual matters to often sceptical politicians ?.
    One often has the feeling that it’s the Bishops that lack the ability or desire to bite, rather than the government ministers.
    The job of Church Ministers is to lead & teach the Church & to preach the gospel to the World.
    It is definitely of benefit to have a voice in Government circles, but as the Scripture says “If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound. Who will prepare for battle?”. Or to be blunt , if the House of Bishops lacks the authority to be recognised, & can be ignored, then there is no point in them being there.
    If it’s necessary for a Prime Minister to Shuffle his cabinet on occasions to reassign government posts to those he feels will be more able to fulfil them successfully. Perhaps the Church representatives could be subject to the same procedure?.

  • Inspector General

    “Go away” barked the indignant minister to the whining priest. “Get back to your church and attend to the spiritual needs of the faithful therein, you wretched man”.

    It made front page news. Journalists descended on the minister, and the bishop concerned. Questions were asked. A society searched its conscience. But the minister was acquitted. He was carried, shoulder high, through the throng to an extraordinary sitting of parliament. There he was feted.

    If only…

  • carl jacobs

    Hrmmm. So the bishops aren’t very good at politics. Well then maybe the church should be disestablished so the bishops don’t have to bother with a task they aren’t very adept at performing. Then they could get back to reading Die Schrift instead of Das Kapital.

    Naah. Why should they surrender infallible writ for an old book?

  • Inspector General

    Bring on the coloured girl singers…

    The only one they could ever vote for
    Was the son of a Marxist man
    The only one who could ever teach them
    Was the son of a Marxist man
    Yes he was, he was
    Ooh, yes he was

    • carl jacobs

      “coloured?”

      • Inspector General

        Indeed. You can’t get no soul from white girls…

        • You’ve lived a very sheltered life, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            You two are worse than CoE bishops…

          • How are your cats these days?

          • There is a ‘Chat’ facility for discussion about cats and gay sex and feline gay sex and anything else that is off topic. Bless you.

          • Apologies, Archbishop.
            …. not forgetting dancing girls.

        • carl jacobs

          “white” is a color.

        • sarky

          Dusty Springfield was white you prat.

          • Inspector General

            A rare talent. Sadly missed…

      • Leacock

        He means ‘Bring on the girls of colour’

        there, now it is all PC!

        • carl jacobs

          The usage is implicitly relative. “Coloured” compared to what? He meant “Bring on the girls whose deviation from the norm is measured by the deviation of their skin color from ‘white’ “. The implicit assumption is that “whites” are the standard of reference.

          • Inspector General

            No he doesn’t and no it isn’t.

            It is though gratifying that you are reduced to blatant mischief making in lieu of better, and that your desperation revealing tactic is worth the lesser opinion the followers of this site must surely hold of you resultant.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, it is actually. Who isn’t colored? A white person. But why reference a person’s skin tone in such a manner? To set “non-whites” apart as a group. It divides the world into “whites” and “non-whites.” That’s what the usage does. Now, insert the context of the “white man’s burden” into the equation, and you have a good understanding of how you come across.

            I don’t do this to make mischief. I don’t do this because I want to. i do this so that there is a record of opposition to some of your comments. I worry about what other readers would think if no one took the trouble to challenge you when you make statements like this. Silence can often be inferred to mean approval. You aren’t the only person who can get inadvertently tarred by the things you say.

            So I cannot and will not stay silent.

          • Inspector General

            Right then Carl. The Inspector, we’ll assume, has been tasked with producing a remake of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. It will be made in Abbey Road studios, London, if only for the reason that we can both find our way there.

            Now, he wants you to bring along four coloured girls. If they have a gospel background, all the better. If you can’t do that in full, we’ll consider using British black girls. Mind you, that will be at a pinch, and one cannot guarantee the resulting will be to the standard anticipated.

            This is important. They must be BLACK and FEMALE. White girls will be of no use.

            Now do you follow?

  • Inspector General

    The UK has finally swung to the right. About time too. Time for the bishops to realise that.

  • Happy Jack believes the Church has a role in witnessing Christ’s message but not in advocating particular political solutions.

    “When we struggle for human rights, for freedom, for dignity, when we feel that it is a ministry of the church to concern itself for those who are hungry, for those who have no schools, for those who are deprived, we are not departing from God’s promise. He comes to free us from sin, and the church knows that sin’s consequences are all such injustices and abuses. The church knows it is saving the world when it undertakes to speak also of such things.”
    (Oscar A. Romero, The Violence of Love)

    These British bishops should have a mind on what constitutes genuine sin on the part of public authorities as we attempt to balance the need for caring for the vulnerable with limited finances available. Burdening future generations with debt is not a Christian path.

    Jack has the future welfare of his grandchild to consider.

    Let the bishops make a noise about the most significant threat to our common good. A threat sapping the moral lifeblood from our nation and wrecking our financial health. Jack speaks of the collapse of sexual morality and its consequential threat to stable family life wherein our children grow and develop physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    • not a machine

      I don’t know if you can offer a sinful narrative as it would seem that in multi faith multiverse all are redeemed ?

    • Leacock

      I think the Church (or more specifically her most prominent leaders) have every right to be involved in advocating for specific policies. The prophets of the OT and the Bishops of the Roman Empire did the same, That is why we have lords spiritual in the Upper House. But their counsel needs to be informed, not by the desires of their own hearts, but by the will of God. And all too often the bishops play to the crowd in an attempt to earn the love of the World rather than to be an authentic witness to what the Gospel has to say.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    Church and politicians do sometimes see eye-to-eye. For example, the Church happily joins in the regurgitation of the Big Lies so vital for keeping HMS Multicultural Britain afloat. With poor Lee Rigby barely cold in his grave, the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded a multicultural audience of the Big Lie that diversity is ‘a gift, not a threat’.

    The Big Truth, as reported in this PDF, is that ‘genetic diversity, as determined predominantly tens of thousands of years ago, has contributed significantly to the frequency, incidence, and onset of both overall and ethnic civil conflicts over the last half century … These findings arguably reflect the adverse effect of genetic diversity on interpersonal trust and cooperation, the potential impact of genetic diversity on income inequality, the potential association between genetic diversity and divergence in preferences for public goods and redistributive policies, and the contribution of genetic diversity to the degree of fractionalization and polarization across ethnic and linguistic groups in the population.’

    In other words, diversity is a threat, not a gift; diversity is a gift only to nation wreckers. I hope that the Church will, one day, stop lying to us.

  • Inspector General

    “So you’re an immigrant. What specialist skills have you brought to England”

    “I drive a taxi in London”

    “Good show. We can’t have enough taxi drivers in the capital, you know. Anything else”

    “Yes, I’m an amateur ordinance specialist”

    “Oh we know that”

    “Anything else you want to know”

    “No, that’s about it. You will go to prison for 38 years”

  • Coniston

    ‘Archbishop Rowan complained about “radical, long-term policies for which no-one voted”’. Although the Archbishop wrote this in 2011, I don’t remember him chastising Cameron about his introduction of same-sex ‘marriage’ and boasting about it.

  • Here’s an article worth very serious reflection and more than one read.

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/benedict-xvi-and-the-roots-of-injustice

  • not a machine

    I have a few views on this , it pains me , but none the less a way of learning about Christ is being expunged , it is in the gay cake ,but also in women bishops and child abuse and rather difficult dialogue with defence of the faith.
    It is no doubt likely that god works through all things of the creation and therefore one cannot disregard politics , where one sits on this scale does not become much easier with age and one can see political remarks that were spiritually error laden and spiritual remarks that were politically error laden . I don’t know if the work of evil is politics without Christ but I come from a different tradition of keeping the two in tension to enable it to support the difficulties of life and perception of god. Over recent years I have watched the church change , how certain views of long held history and meaning have been declared incompatible with none of the peddlers of the new seeming to want to answer more pertinent questions about the Christian faith , to some this feels like displacement theology , one idea being removed or never spoken of , with a pensive gap that what ever was supposed to replace it is better.
    Todays news of how funny a sermon should be is perhaps another avenue of thought and the triumph that some want in Ireland of “no longer will the church dictate morals”. my disagreement with this frames me (in the new speak) as a traditionalist , luckily not a heretic but no doubt to some it feels like that .
    my perhaps first question is “what has changed about the nature of God/Christ ?” to cause this must have makeover ?.
    Societal change has not been kind to the church , add in child abuse (first but by no means the only area of life to be infiltrated ) , not only did the church seem unable to detect close evil , but seemed to have lost the ability to frame questions around this emerging modern narrative which has fuelled some of the moves into being a more politically correct church , which I argue is one that will have a denial of lameness built in for a good few decades yet . Should I feel sorry that modernity is savaging my theology and its clergy ? well I am upset as to me some appear to be making it up and that does both factions a disservice .
    I personally think that a frothy political coffee shop chat room , with 4g free wifi will be rather useless , to the believer as well . I have bit more of meat to add but need some food so off for a bit

    • Inspector General

      Ah, women bishops. Ironically, we’ll have a much quieter CoE when they take over, and around 60% of the bishops are women (and why not, they’re better than us mere men, you know). The ladies don’t do confrontation as a rule. Probably why Christ couldn’t use them, and from what we know of how things were 2000 years ago, Christianity certainly did confront what mankind held dear then. And of course, in unpleasant parts of the world today, still do.

      • not a machine

        Its not so much that women bishops may or may not do confrontation its the way its they way they have never explained , if we who consult the bible are wrong scripturally or just wrong politically

        • Inspector General

          It doesn’t matter how they got there. It’s all part of turning the church into a humanist agency. Now, that will entail introducing practising homosexual bishops of both sexes. Another ‘oppressed’ section of the community. They’re going to be even less vocal on government policy, spending much of their time trying to convince an ever dwindling attendance that Jesus would have promoted buggery if he’d only been around a bit longer…

          • not a machine

            yes I caught that Scottish church was the next step in gay promotion .
            if you go into ideologically confrontation with it you are called a bully ,don’t know inspector if they turn into a humanitarian organisation (if it isn’t already there) then they must take responsibility for what it will create

          • Inspector General

            We don’t know what is around the corner, machine, but one does not think High Church congregations will go meekly into the abyss. Perhaps a rival setup, ‘The REAL Church of England’ will emerge. Let’s hope that is what will be…

          • not a machine

            Funnily enough inspector general a friend has told me to have a look at forward in faith , wondered if his grace had any comment

          • Inspector General

            And thank you machine. That one looks to be a European counterpart of Leacock’s Anglican Realignment.

          • Leacock

            The name of the game at the moment is Anglican Realignment, operating outside the (corrupt and false ‘Bishops’) with alternatives. Not ideal but when faced with such corruption what can one do? It is perhaps fortunate for the long term survival of Anglicanism that Rome should be so corrupt as well at this time or I would think most would have ended up crossing the Tiber….

          • Inspector General

            Thank you for that. From little acorns then….

            When you mention corruption in Rome, do you have any specifics in mind, or is it the general excuse for the existing protestation resulting from the reformation?

          • alternative_perspective

            https://americananglican.org/current-news/realignment/

            Just watched this video. I feel a glimmer of hope for the Anglican Communion. I look forward to the movement spreading through England.

          • Phil R

            “They’re going to be even less vocal on government policy, spending much
            of their time trying to convince an ever dwindling attendance that Jesus
            would have promoted buggery if he’d only been around a bit longer..”

            LOL but is is true.

            And abortion the first commandment is looking increasingly wobbly 4,5 and 6 also.

            Then they mean that nobody goes to Church to listen to (from a female clergyperson two weeks ago) a sermon about girl guides crossing wobbly bridges.

            She said she could not stay for coffee because “I suppose have to do something with im at home”

            “Im at home” was her husband.

            Unbelievable.

            She should lose her job for that remark on its own.

          • Inspector General

            Not so sure. Tis only the little woman concerned about her man. Very feminine.

          • Phil R

            Sorry should have been clearer

            She is obligiged to respect her husband. especially in public

      • Leacock

        I expect them to be rather shrill actually, you’ll certainly hear them, whether they have anything worth hearing or not.

        • Inspector General

          You might get one or two amazon types prepared to strip to the waist to charge in bare breasted, but the whole are more likely to conduct themselves with all the punch of a coffee morning…

    • not a machine

      second part : Some 400yrs after Galileo, the church of Romes astronomical observatory finally agreed (through long observations) that Galileo under standing of the solar system was correct . In that time span we had the industrial revolution and at least 3 big European wars. Of course with satellite improvement what astronomical observations from an earth bound telescope in Rome , become rather more “uh huh its obvious” when you send cameras into space.
      Quite if the EU is a theory running over a long time span that we cannot comprehend is an interesting thought , disaster or success is very much part of political information processing .
      I personally have a lot of problems with the EU , in that it doesn’t answer its own questions that as a nation the UK has done over many century’s. But then there are the political flavours which in the EUs case is bit of dangerous experiment , when English has meaning problems. A big political event is occurring one not seen for nearly 50 yrs let alone voted upon , to not to want to be part of a misguided dialogue about life at the resolution of human activities , is being played out . A vote has been promised on a reformed EU or out , this is big stuff , but my goodness haven’t we seen all sorts of disingenuous politics along the way to what is being discussed this weekend (and would not have been discussed or offered as a vote if labour had won) .
      politics is bigger than god ?

      • preacher

        Nothing or No one, No country or ruler is bigger than God brother, we’ve seen & heard it all before & when the smoke clears, the Only One left is God!. If the plans of men are not in line with the plans of God, ultimately they will fail.
        There may be difficulties to overcome, but that has always been the way of the World.
        We have been promised a in/out referendum but don’t believe it until you see it. The old talk of Reform is now starting to surface – again.
        An old friend once advised “Keep your chin up mate – that way it makes a better target” LOL.

        • not a machine

          Do you think preacher that politics can obscure god and create vison less power ?

          • preacher

            No brother, IMO politics are neutral, it depends on the motives & beliefs of the individual concerned.
            There have been many good Christian politicians who have made major changes to better the lives of the people.
            But the danger lies in those who swallow the lies & delusions that man can prosper independently of the Creator & sustainer of the Cosmos & succeed by their own leading.
            As William Penn said “If we refuse to be led by God, we will be ruled by tyrants”.

          • David

            Well said.
            Or as I prefer, “either we worship God or ourselves”.

          • not a machine

            Amen to that too David

          • not a machine

            Amen to that thank you preacher.

  • Christians understand personal sin lies at the root of and is the source of mankind’s unhappiness and alienation from each other and God. Change can only come with a recognition of where sin festers in the world and that the divine plays a role in uprooting it.

    Man’s fallen nature and a secular, relativist atheism dominates the West. “The only way to be happy is for everyone to be equal. We must all be the same. So we must burn the books, Montag. All the books,” (Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, 1953)

    The churches are failing the poor, not by how they spend or play politics. There’s a basic failure to reach out, integrate, and engage them in worshipping God. Actual religious practice has collapsed among those with weaker economic prospects faster than it has among the educated upper class. The social benefits of religion are stronger further down the socioeconomic ladder. Churches that spend or lobby effectively for the poor but are socially stratified on Sunday offer less to the common good than if they converted souls to Christ. A Church that pays out to help the poor, but doesn’t pray with them, is failing in its mission.

    “The Church is not a shop, she is not a humanitarian agency, the Church is not an NGO. The Church is sent to bring Christ and his Gospel to all. She does not bring herself — whether small or great, strong or weak, the Church carries Jesus ….”
    (Pope Francis)

    • len

      IF only that were true…..

  • len

    The church has failed in its commission and it has failed because it allowed itself to become corrupted by those with an agenda which was not that of God….
    IF the church returns to God then the Church can carry out the Great Commission of which it is failing so dismally.

    • Leacock

      Indeed. If the Bishops were more interested in the word of the Lord then what they have to say may actually carry some weight. But a purge of the episcopacy would be needed first, to remove all the princesses of the Church and the like.

  • len

    Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants
    would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my
    kingdom is from another place.”(John 18:36)

    The problems within our society will never be corrected in fact the problems are getting progressively worse.This is because of the fallen nature on mankind however hard he tries man cannot find lasting solutions to the basic problem which is himself. This is why God brought the old creation to the Cross of Jesus Christ and began a New Creation in Christ.It is the duty of those who have had the ability to grasp this truth to speak this truth to others.IF the church becomes merely(not in itself a bad thing)’ a social organization’ it has failed in its God given mission

    There are cycles that a civilisation goes through which are observable through looking at history and if we do not learn from history we will repeat the same mistakes that others have done in the past.

    “The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second
    from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from
    great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to
    abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The
    sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh
    stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from
    apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to
    dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to
    bondage.”

    We need to move out of this old cycle of this dying world and into God`s remedy through Jesus Christ.

  • steroflex

    Round here we have an open door for immigrants – with Russian, Lithuanian, English and Polish mother tongue translaters to welcome everyone. We have a night shelter for the homeless and the hopeless. We have a decent reception for people who come out of prison and stuff (mainly English). We also have a good inter church organisation which, for instance, hosted a hustings which was really successful, witty, interesting and fun.
    All done by Christians.
    Except for one lot of Christians, that is.
    The CofE who are currently engaged in an art project for kiddies and in rushing round from empty church to empty church on Sundays.
    Bishops? Who cares!

  • minidvr

    Perhaps the Church has one arm tied behind it’s back, by its establishment status. This hold the Church in tension as its representation in Parliament is in the upper house, while Clergy are not permitted to be elected to the lower house, where frankly the balance of power is held.

    My question is would people vote for CofE Clergy if they stood on a manifesto of the Gospel and Christian ethics, perhaps not, because the Gospel is too demanding and the ethics drawn from it are perhaps equally hard, even if being capable of being watered down by being subsumed into party policy than twisted to fit a particular political agenda.

    Stephen poses the question of whether the Church should be engaging in ‘stand off’ grand standing (like the Bishops have) or should it seek to engage in politics through relationship building and conversation, particularly the listening bit. Since Christianity is a relational business, that approach makes mores sense to me than the stand offish, grand standing approach taken so far by the limited number of Bishops who’ve engage via blog, the media and social media with the government.

    I don’t view the Church as being the opposition, as a standby for Labour or Liberal Democrats. It needs to be politically neutral and engage through the moral case that can be made against policies from either of the parties, that places one section of society in a less privileged position than others.

    In the early church, people shared their resources to take care of those who had less and they flourished and spread widely and swiftly, despite persecution. Today, while many Christians are generous in their giving and sharing, many more are not. How can we as Christians hold ourselves up as the moral standard bearer, when so many of us don’t live up to those moral standards that we declare as a mantra to depict our lives, when in fact, we, me included fall well short of that standard. Self preservation gets in the way of being true to them.

    So, for the Church to become an effective antidote to bad politics, there needs to be a culture change, which will involve self sacrificial actions, led by the Bishops, to be alongside those must vulnerable in our society. Than by our actions will we be known and the Gospel might have a chance to be fulfilled, When people are able to see for themselves that we hold the Gospel up in ways that are attractive and meaningful to them, it might influence their politics and the way that they vote. Until than we can just posture ineffectively on the wings to the detriment of the Kingdom.