Thursday, 19 July 2012

The decline in the (institutional) Christian church in England

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For those readers in the USA who find me excessively pessimistic about the prospects for Christianity, from where I am situated  -

From: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2011/08/does-the-future-have-a-church/

  • 39% of churches have no-one attending under 11 years of age
  • 49% of churches have no-one attending between the ages of 11 and 14
  • 59% of churches have no-one attending between the ages of 15 and 19.

The loss of young people is particularly serious graph

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H/T -

http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/gimme-five-im-going-to-church-because.html

Interestingly, one of the Anglican churches I regularly attend is mentioned here as one of only four Church of England parishes with large numbers of teenagers who attend worship...

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13 comments:

  1. Ask your pastor when the gospels were written down - before the execution of James, brother of Jesus, or after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple.

    Now God and the Risen Christ could well be fiction, but that Jesus preached, was crucified, and the gospels written down not long afterwards is history. If the pastor believes the gospels were written after the fall of Jerusalem, he believes it because he very much wants to believe they were written late, in which case one can safely conclude he does not want to believe the gospels.

    Death of the Church follows swiftly.

    Progressivism was, originally, a branch of Christianity. Thus actual Christianity is competition. Progressivism is taking out its competitors. Coexistence is assimilation, and assimilation leads to the erasure of the Christian elements of Christianity.

    The genuinely non Christian and non progressive belief system is that the gospels were written early, but the disciples pulled a pious fraud, that evolution is true, and that egoistic morality is inherent in human nature - which means that progressive morality is contrary to human nature.

    That the gospels were written late is a way of reconciling Christianity with progressivism, which reconciliation results in Christianity being quietly devoured by its alarmingly powerful companion

    That human evolution stopped seventy thousand years ago, and that one cannot deduce ought from is, is a way of reconciling progressivism with biological science, which results in science being quietly devoured by its alarmingly powerful companion.

    If one cannot deduce "ought" from "is", why the moral indignation and denial about certain "is"s of Darwinian evolution?

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  2. @JAD - As I have said before, I think your overall analysis is wrong (inevitably, since you are trying to draw a morality from nihilism); but you do make some telling points.

    But maybe, if your concept of progressivism is equated with purposive, demonic evil - there isn't so much of a difference.

    But it is important to recognize that the progressive hatred of Christianity is not a matter of competition - progressivism is anti-Christian at its very core, and will (usually indirectly, as currently in the Middle East) aim to seek-out and destroy Christianity wherever it may be found.

    This is the concept of Unseen, or Spiritual, Warfare as the primary reality of the world.

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  3. The graph implies that young people are getting more Churchly as they grow up (as the Church-going proportion of the other age groups is not changing at all or much).

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  4. @Gyan - no, it's a cohort effect. The younger genereation are abandoning church, rapdily.

    Check out the linked articles - they are very interesting.

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  5. progressivism is anti-Christian at its very core, and will (usually indirectly, as currently in the Middle East) aim to seek-out and destroy Christianity wherever it may be found.

    Well, yes, but how did it get that way?

    The Gospel position on female emancipation is strikingly simple. Women should not be emancipated. The Gospel position on slavery is disturbingly subtle, complex, and nuanced.

    During the debate leading up to the American civil war, both sides quoted the gospels, one side quoting them for the proposition that no one should hold slaves, the other side for the proposition that slaves should not be freed against the will of their owners.

    Progressivism started to depart from Christianity when they adopted the causes of female emancipation and forcibly suppressing the slave trade, which are on the face of it, indisputably virtuous causes.

    The most anti slavery spin one can plausibly give the gospels, is that Christians should eventually free their Christian slaves but are not required to do so, nor to be in any very great hurry to do so, and that Christians should refuse to participate in some of the nasty stuff, such as forcibly returning runaway slaves, necessary to make slavery work. However it is clear Christians may not forcibly free other people's slaves.

    Now it is plausible that in a nominally Christian society, where many people are genuinely Christian, and most people are reluctant to be openly unchristian, slavery would quietly die out without the need for formal and forceful abolition. Surprisingly, this in fact happened in most of Christendom.

    However this quiet vanishing of slavery was considerably slower to happen when the slaves were of a different race, were mostly lower IQ, and many of them were too feckless to function in a civilized society without someone looking after them. Nonetheless, in much of the world, for example the Dominican republic, even race based slavery eventually quietly faded away despite racial differences, without the need for formal abolition until after it had quietly vanished away by itself.

    Large elements of the Church adopted a program of formal and forceful abolition of slavery, in obvious contradiction to the gospels. This policy brought them power, and caused them to quietly deprecate the Gospels, with the result that they eventually turned into today's militantly anti Christian progressivism.

    So, if you want to interpret progressivism as demonic (I would interpret it as evil and insane, which is not far from demonic) then you have to say the demons were behind the emancipation of women and the forcible suppression of the slave trade.

    My theory puts the development of evil and madness somewhat later, as an unplanned and unintended consequence of the success and profitability of the movements for the emancipation of women and the forcible abolition of the slave trade. If you blame it on demons, has to be a planned and intended consequence of the movements for emancipation of women and the forcible abolition of the slave trade.

    So if you take the position that progressivism is demonic, will also have to take the nuanced position on slavery - that slavery was wrong, but forceful means to end slavery were also wrong.

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  6. @JAD - Yes but progressivism began around 1000AD with the Great Schism.

    As for my views on slavery, I have already written several times on this topic on this blog if you do a search on that word.

    I think the problem is that you regard Christianity as if it was a secular political system, leaving out the Christianity. From such a perspective it can sound monstrous, meaningless and cruel.

    Christian society *only* makes sense with Christianity as its basis.

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  7. @JAD - Yes but progressivism began around 1000AD with the Great Schism.

    As for my views on slavery, I have already written several times on this topic on this blog if you do a search on that word.

    I think the problem is that you regard Christianity as if it was a secular political system, leaving out the Christianity. From such a perspective it can sound monstrous, meaningless and cruel.

    Christian society *only* makes sense with Christianity as its basis.

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  8. > I think the problem is that you regard Christianity as if it was a secular political system, leaving out the Christianity. From such a perspective it can sound monstrous, meaningless and cruel.

    Once someone rejects the politics of the gospels, considered as a secular political system, as cruel and monstrous, they are walking the same path as the progressives walked, and will end up at the same destination.

    Which is why Christianity is on its death bed.

    Christianity *is* a political system, among other things, though it aspires only to maintain order and justice on the human scale of the family and the congregation, not on the scale of armies and empire, which it leaves to Caesar, and viewing it as a secular political system, I don't regard that system as monstrous or cruel. The nuanced position on slavery sounds about right to me, and the uncomplicated position on female emancipation simply correct.

    Further, that is the way it sounded to pretty much everyone all the way from the beginning to the early nineteenth century. If cruel and monstrous, why did no one notice until 1830 or so?

    And, as you yourself pointed out, progressives do in practice take the nuanced position on slavery, even though they vehemently deny doing so.

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  9. @JAD - You seem to be tilting at windmills or attacking straw men.

    I thought you knew that I regarded Byzantine Christianity as the ideal - integrating Church and state etc. I find it mystifying to be regarded as a liberal. Of course I don't live up to my ideals, but those are what I try to defend...

    You, on the other hand, don't care that 'Christianity is on its death bed' and aspire to have a unique and unprecedented combination of social features you have inferred and invented and picked and mixed from various sources.

    What is the middle ground? Difficult. I cannot get you to admit that your views are arbitrary and unfounded by your own account fo where your views come from.

    I cannot get your to admit that modernity - in the sense of cognitive differentiation/ specialization - took off in the West around 1000, and your identification of recent events as criticial is merely a recognition point of when an exponentially growing process becomes undeniably obvious.

    This is a very fundamental incommensurability. You think that a moral system can be detached from its basis and nonetheless evaluated - that Christian morality can be extracted from a particular timepoint in (say) the last 1000 years and used as a coherent and self justifying moral system... in fact your usage is utilitarian, on the basis that use of a specific moral system leads to the greatest gratification for the people who you believe should be gratified.

    "Once someone rejects the politics of the gospels, considered as a secular political system, as cruel and monstrous, they are walking the same path as the progressives walked, and will end up at the same destination."

    It is exactly that move, the step outside of Christianity as a secualr political system which is the fatal step in modernity. In fact, traditionally, political systems get their meaning, purpose and coherence precisely from their basis in religion.

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  10. > You, on the other hand, don't care that 'Christianity is on its death bed'

    I do care very much that Christianity is on its death bed, because, as a secular political system it was, at its worst, not that bad, and at its best, pretty good.

    But, since it is dead, we have to go on from where we are.

    > cannot get your to admit that modernity - in the sense of cognitive differentiation/ specialization - took off in the West around 1000,

    I think the most important features of modernity are science, technology, economic growth, and rationalism. Looks to me that we had several short lived episodes of this, the earliest being thirteenth century Europe, and the most recent, greatest, and most successful, being Restoration England. They thrive in good theocracy, and are extinguished by bad theocracy, or, as at present, bad atheocracy - progressivism, postmodernism, and such.

    > that Christian morality can be extracted from a particular timepoint in (say) the last 1000 years and used as a coherent and self justifying moral system

    Which sounds as if you presuppose that there was one Christian morality nineteen hundred years ago, and another different Christian morality one thousand years ago, and yet another Christian morality today. If that is what you mean, it is a very progressive position, and one that guarantees the death of Christianity.

    Sorry: There is one and unchanging Christian morality. I don't altogether agree with it, favoring classic Greek morality as expressed by Aristotle and Xenophon, but as compared to progressive morality, or Islamic morality, and so on and so forth, it was pretty good.

    > ... in fact your usage is utilitarian, on the basis that use of a specific moral system leads to the greatest gratification for the people who you believe should be gratified.

    I am not a utilitarian, I am a Darwinian, and as I have said many times, utilitarianism is not in our nature, not something that could be naturally evolved: Show me a man who says he would hold a child's face in the fire to find the cure for malaria, and I will show you a man who will hold a child's face in the fire, and forget he was looking for the cure for malaria.

    But, to get back on topic, if you want to revive Christianity, a project I think hopeless, you have to revive Christianity as it was when it was healthy - Revive the Christianity that was dead against female emancipation, dead against sodomy, but took a nuanced position on slavery.

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  11. @JAD - The basic problem is that - as a convinced and non-seeking and nihilistic non-Christian - your opinions on Christianity are at best worthless, and at worst extremely-likely to be subversive and destructive to Christianity.

    It could hardly be otherwise, could it? Suppose I were to advise Hindus on how to improve or revive Hinduism - would that be of any use to them? Hardly. Or Leftists? I would either be covertly working to convert their ideology or to damage it.

    You want to exploit certain aspects of Christianity, but that is not the same as supporting it (even if you wanted to support it).

    To be a Darwinian is very obviously incoherent (since arbitrary) - but also reduces to utilitarianism, since it means meerely that it *pleases* you to do something-like conflate reproductive success with gratification, or to assert that reproductive succes of you (and maybe some relatives?) is gratifying to you... or something equally arbitrary and unsupported.

    Your example of torturing a child is an evasion - the point is why you and I feel that way, not to choose some image so disgusting and shocking that it shuts-down discussion. Please don't go down that path or I will have to start censoring again, which I don't like doing.

    Yet I agree with your general point that traditional Christianity is what needs reviving. I have said so again and again in this blog. But that is NOT a political program - it is a matter of first (and indispensably) developing exactly that traditional faith, in oneself and others.

    Any social changes flow from that and take (probably) several generations - how to iplement social changes, what they should be, what is the correct order etc - none of these can be known until there is faith.

    For example, there cannot be a proper divinely ordained Christian Monarch (on the Byzantine model) until there is a devout Christian society of sufficient size - the process cannot be reversed as a short-cut.

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  12. Interestingly, one of the Anglican churches I regularly attend is mentioned here as one of only four Church of England parishes with large numbers of teenagers who attend worship...

    Do you have any idea why this parish is successful?

    Chris B

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  13. 1. Excellent leadership (Rev David Holloway, plus three additional full time and some part-time ministers, paid for from the Churches own fund-raising).

    2. Traditional doctrine (of Protestant type).

    3. Constant explicit (but relatively low-key) evangelism - particularly of children (via mother and toddler groups, scouts and guides, holiday clubs), teens and university students (including international students).

    4. Scores of organized home groups meeting midweek.

    5. Strong emphasis on Biblical teaching in sermons.

    ...probably more factors... but it is no mystery why they succeed!

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