Thursday, June 11, 2015

Damian Thompson: 2067 the end of British Christianity

It’s often said that Britain’s church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells out the situation in detail: between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067.

That is the year in which the Christians who have inherited the faith of their British ancestors will become statistically invisible. Parish churches everywhere will have been adapted for secular use, demolished or abandoned.

Our cathedral buildings will survive, but they won’t be true cathedrals because they will have no bishops. The Church of England is declining faster than other denominations; if it carries on shrinking at the rate suggested by the latest British Social Attitudes survey, Anglicanism will disappear from Britain in 2033. One day the last native-born Christian will die and that will be that.

Read the rest here.

8 comments:

Chris said...

Can't say I'm shocked or even sorry about this. The CoE has willfully chosen its own doom. All that is left is for the bishops of the CoE is to steer the ship into the last iceberg and sink the ship.

rabidgandhi said...

I put the date at 1054, but that's just me.

Patrick Sheridan said...

rabidgandhi, why 1054? And I expect that is just you.

rabidgandhi said...

While it is definitely hyperbole on my part to throw out that number (the date of the schism), I have never seen the logic of making this clear distinction of England (or other countries) crossing some imaginary line from Heresy A to Heresy B. The line between Christianity outside the Orthodox Church and non-Christianity outside the Orthodox Church is not one that was ever clearly drawn by the Fathers. For example, when Islam appeared it was not seen by the Fathers (not even St John of Damascus!) as any different than the other heresies they had previously encountered, such as Arianism, Nestorianism, Monothelitism... or even Papism; it was just another group of people misunderstanding the person of Christ. Why we insist on making this distinction nowadays is beyond me.

Is Islam somehow more unorthodox than a CoE that follows St Anselm's original guilt theories or the current sexual goofiness? Maybe, maybe not, but it has never been an Orthodox stance to try and qualify shades of non-orthodoxy.

That said, in no way should their stance outside the Church in any way diminish our love, charity and service to our brothers, be they CoE, Muslim, Pagan Pine Cone Worshippers, or whatever.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Clearly, not enough evangelism.

maximus said...

The Church has certainly qualified shades of heterodoxy by allowing certain groups into the Church via various methods. The majority of the Western Church respected the form of (and did not repeat) all trinitarian baptisms from outside the Church even in ancient times. Read the Canons and the Canonical Epistles of St. Basil.

And in recent times many of our luminaries (even some stricter ones like Met. A. Khrapovitsky of ROCOR) had respect for the Anglican Church while being critical of its deficiencies. To compare professing believers in Christ to Muslims and to think that the God-given grace that rested upon millions of Christians in the West just blinked out in 1054 is simplistic and terrible. Orthodox should feel sorrow over the remnants of Orthodoxy that the Anglicans are jettisoning. God help them and deliver us from such a fate!

William Tighe said...

Why is everyone so bedazzled by the date 1054? It marks a significant stage in the alienation of East and West, but it was not, in any sense, the date of "the schism." Possibly Rome and Constantinople fell out of communion with each other, obscurely, in 1009, but more significant were the events of 1204, and the various reactions to those events. One may even argue, and I would so argue, that the schism was not "consummated" until 1484.

The young fogey said...

I am grateful for Anglicanism introducing me to God, the church, and indeed pre-Vatican II Catholicism. That said, its own Articles, the ordination of women, and my having been to a ruined English abbey and to the shrines of two English Catholic martyrs mean I will never look at Anglicanism the same again and have no desire to return. So I wouldn't exactly miss it if it went away.

And in recent times many of our luminaries (even some stricter ones like Met. A. Khrapovitsky of ROCOR) had respect for the Anglican Church while being critical of its deficiencies. To compare professing believers in Christ to Muslims and to think that the God-given grace that rested upon millions of Christians in the West just blinked out in 1054 is simplistic and terrible. Orthodox should feel sorrow over the remnants of Orthodoxy that the Anglicans are jettisoning. God help them and deliver us from such a fate!

John Henry (later a cardinal) Newman wrote something similar in the late 1800s about the Church of England. He was utilitarian about it: it's not the church but it was keeping England Christian and doing charitable work (such as running schools and hospitals).

I think we'd all rather see a coped archbishop crown a British monarch or officiate at a royal wedding than a country out and out secular.