The Church of England’s leaders, driven by a misguided quest for inclusivity, are alienating members and disregarding the teachings of Jesus, sacrificing tradition for culture. A passive society, argues Nick Timothy in the Telegraph, only worsens the erosion of values. Here’s an excerpt:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said Jesus Christ. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And so Jesus taught Christians to pray to God addressing Him as our Father.
Now, after two millennia of Christian worship, senior figures in the Church of England believe they know better. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, says the word “Father” is “problematic”. He says this because of “those whose experience of earthly fathers has been destructive and abusive” and “all of us who have laboured rather too much from an oppressively patriarchal grip on life”.
This follows an attempt, made at the General Synod in February, to introduce gender-neutral terminology in worship in Anglican churches. The Reverend Christina Rees, a former member of the Synod, has supported Cottrell, saying “because Jesus called God ‘daddy’, we think we have to call God ‘daddy’.”
We can argue about whether this is a respectful way for Rees to make her argument, or if it is right that Cottrell should put concerns about a supposed “patriarchy” ahead of what Jesus taught him to do. But two things are clear. First, in the Church of England – which came into existence during the Reformation, in which Protestants complained that acquired tradition, or culture, trumped scripture – culture now trumps scripture.
Second, in the name of inclusivity, the Church’s leaders are alienating many of its members. This is neither the first example from within Anglicanism, nor a problem limited to the Church. We have seen Muslim prayers read in Westminster Abbey that refer to Mohammed as “the chosen one”, and the adhan recited in Manchester Cathedral, claiming “Mohammed is the Messenger of God” – both, fundamentally, refutations of the divinity of Christ.
We have seen, too, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, get behind the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign, auditing statues and commemorative names in the Church and comparing British figures to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the mass murderer responsible for the Red Terror. Welby has talked of collective sin inherited by white people and by the British, and claimed there can only be forgiveness for the sins of past British generations “if we change the way we behave now” – a position contradicted by scripture.
The Church is not the only institution that seems determined to upturn its own beliefs and purpose and repel those loyal to it. From the National Trust – hectoring its members and visitors about our history – to the British Museum – determined, it seems, to surrender the most prized artefacts entrusted to it – so many of our national and cultural organisations are hostile to the interests and values they were formed to uphold.