Archbishop Carey: Church of England ‘One Generation Away from Extinction’

“One generation away from extinction in Britain” is the phrase.

Lord George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, used it in a speech at the Shropshire Churches Conference.

The news stories I’ve read conflict as to whether he said that “Christianity is one generation away from extinction” or “The Church of England is one generation away from extinction.”

There are news stories with quotes around the phrases saying it both ways.

The point is still the same. Decades of blundering around, chasing the culture and trying to be politically correct rather than preaching Christ have taken their toll. Acceding to the monster of extreme secularism (which, when it’s carried to its most aggressive end is a form of tyranny that seeks to wipe out religious belief) has backed the church in England into such a tiny corner of insignificance that it can no longer behave as a church.

In an odd sort of way, this is exactly what I’m trying and failing to talk about when I keep calling for the leadership in the worldwide Catholic Church to stop talking to one another and begin talking to the laity and to use simple, direct language to do it. They must stop hiding behind mush-mouthed theology-speak and start communicating with the larger culture.

Lord Carey talks about a need for ministries for young people as a way to revitalize the Church of England. My advice is far simpler: Preach Christ and Him crucified.

When Church leaderships, whatever the denomination, fall in love with themselves and their access to the various halls of power, they have fallen for the first and most pernicious form of corruption Christianity can know. I see it in a small form at the Oklahoma legislature when I see religious leaders subvert the Gospel they claim to follow in order to cozy up to political power.

This form of corruption happens in both the right-wing and left-wing churches. It is done by both the Rs and the Ds, although I will say that the Ds are much kinder in how they treat “their” religious leaders who step out of line than what I’ve seen from the Rs. The point here is that I’ve seen religious leaders toss their religious leadership out the window in order to not lose their access to political power.

The Church — and by that I mean all denominations that make up the body of Christ — has become too much in love with the world and too addicted to sitting at the big table at the front of the room at political gatherings.

The reason the Church of England is foundering is that it has made too many accommodations of the Gospels of Christ to fit the various political and social fancies of the days through which it has passed. There is no reason to get up on a Sunday morning and go sit on a hard pew to hear the same social/political claptrap that you hear outside the Church. That is especially true when the social/political claptrap in church is spoken in a mumbly, sneering manner.

My family attended the Episcopalian Church (which is the American version of the Church of England) for several years. Our first vicar was a good man. When he left, the bishop put a replacement in who was, in my opinion, a charlatan. This man, who also taught at one of our universities, stood up in the pulpit and bragged about how he had destroyed the faith of a Southern Baptist student who had come to him for counseling in a time of doubt.

He preached that Christianity was just one faith among many and that the miracles in the Bible were lies and that most everything in the Scriptures was untrue. He didn’t believe in the trinity, the Virgin Birth or much of anything else.

Why would anyone continue to go to a church that preached this nonsense? These are not the words that lead to eternal life. This is the teaching of the evil one, wearing vestments.

This is, hopefully, an extreme example. But tepid faith and compromised Christianity deserve to die because they are not the words that lead to eternal life.

If you preach Christ and you don’t back down or run away when the resistance comes, people will begin to fill your pews.

The world is a butcher shop. Young people today are so damaged by the excesses of their parents with their divorces and obsessions about jobs and career and me, me, me lifestyles that vast numbers of them cannot marry and form families of their own. Their values are so degraded by the sex education and oppressive amoral training in relativism that they receive in the schools that they cannot see themselves or other human beings as children of God.

They are easy prey for any amoral, destructive teaching that comes down the road. They are ignorant of Christianity. When a young person asks, in all honesty, “Who is Jesus?” as a young person asked a friend of mine recently, you know that the culture is post Christian.

People are dying spiritually, our whole Western world is dying spiritually. This vast spiritual vacuum will be filled with something, and it will not, in the end, be atheism. That philosophy is too cold, hopeless and shallow to sustain a culture.

The question becomes what will fill the God-sized hole in the people today if the Church continues down its road of self-absorption and cowardly accommodation to its own demise?

The possibilities  are many, but the one true fact remains. Nothing and no one but Christ and Him crucified will suffice. Only Jesus Christ has the words that lead to eternal life. Our only hope as a culture and as individual people is the empty tomb.

People need Christ.

Let me say that again.

People need Christ.

They also need clergy who will stop pandering to the larger culture and preach Christ. The larger culture, which is increasingly dominated by the values of the pit, will react with anger to anyone who preaches Christ. The belittling, smearing and slandering will follow close on the heels of anyone who speaks for Jesus. That is no reason to stop doing it. It is confirmation of how badly it is needed.

The Church of England needs clergy who mean it. They don’t need ministries. They need faith. And courage. And conviction. And a willingness to live and die for Jesus.

Preach Christ.

The rest will follow.

From iOL News:

London – The Church of England is just “one generation away from extinction”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said on Tuesday.

Lord Carey laid the blame at the feet of Church leaders who he said should be “ashamed” of their failure to bring youngsters into their services.

His stark message was echoed by the Archbishop of York, who told the General Synod that compared to the need to attract new worshippers, “everything else is like re-arranging furniture when the house is on fire”.

The Most Reverend John Sentamu told the Synod – where leaders will debate how to persuade traditionalists to accept women bishops – that they spent too long “arguing over words and phrases, while the people of England are left floundering amid meaninglessness, anxiety and despair”.

Lord Carey, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace in 2002, remains among the most high-profile campaigners for Christianity in the country. He said: “We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We are one generation away from extinction – if we do not invest in young people there is going to be no one in the future.”

The series of high-level warnings about a looming crisis comes at a time when Christian belief and the Church of England appear under attack on a number of fronts. Recent census figures have shown a decline of more than 10 percent in a decade in numbers of people who call themselves Christian, and the courts have rejected a series of pleas from Christians for respect from the law for their beliefs.

Last month, one of the most senior judges struck a blow. President of the Family Division Sir James Munby declared the courts are not Christian and “the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs”.

Ministers – who ignored the Church of England’s objections to same-sex marriage – have gone so far as to threaten the autonomy of the Church of England by hinting that the government will intervene to force its hand if it cannot bring itself to approve the appointment of women bishops.

Lord Carey’s warning was delivered in a speech at Holy Trinity Church in Shrewsbury as part of the Shropshire Churches Conference 2013.

  • michicatholic

    Absolutely true, and beautifully written.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Archbishop Carey: Church of England ‘One Generation Away from Extinction’
    And it has been so for the last two or three generations.

  • vox borealis

    In an odd sort of way, this is exactly what I’m trying and failing to talk about when I keep calling for the leadership in the worldwide Catholic Church to stop talking to one another and begin talking to the laity and to use simple, direct language to do it. They must stop hiding behind the mush-mouthed theology-speak and start communicating with the larger culture.

    It is odd, in that (I think) your logic here fails. For example: referring back to your whipping boy word “consubstantial,” which you decried in previous posts as mush-mouthed theology speak. And yet it is a direct, precise theological term that exactly says what Catholics believe about the nature of Christ. Mush-mouthed was the old circumlocution-translation “one in being,” which really could mean anything and nothing at all. Mush mouthed is the replacement minister at your family’s Episcopal church. He was speaking plainly and directly to the larger culture by dismissing those hard theological concepts (virgin birth, etc), for all of which the Church has developed precise terminology.

    The thing is, I agree with this piece very much on the whole. People need Christ. The world needs Christ. But don’t we have an obligation to know (and teach) who and what Christ is? I mean, he wasn’t just some nice guy who taught self-help mantras. He was the Son of God, all man and all divine at once, eternal and yet born, and so on. These are hard ideas. That’s theology. It’s not mush-mouthed, it’s not hiding. It’s direct and difficult.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I think you are confusing issues. Theology-speak is not necessarily mush-mouthed, directly proclaiming the Gospels is not necessarily to eschew difficult or technical language. These are separate issues. But in so confusing them, fear that you play into the hands of those very post-Christian critics. You mention the “virgin birth,” and they cry “ooh, that’s theological mumbo-jumbo, just give it to me straight.”

  • SisterCynthia

    AMEN! When leaders cease believing they are, in effect, leading rescue missions to save the lost and hurting on Christ’s orders, and start thinking of themselves like the heads of social clubs that do good and need to market themselves to “stay relevant” (i.e., flush with cash and followers), the church is in deep doo doo, because it has forgotten both who He is and who we are. :-/

  • FW Ken

    The key to understanding the Church of England – Anglicanism, if fact – is that it is a creature of England. Christianity has always been a struggle of Church and Crown. When England went definitively to the Crown, there was nothing to balance whatever social trend came along. So now, as prosperity moves England asking the road to comfortable secularism, the Church goes down with the culture.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Exactly. The Church of England is a department of the British state. They find it rather a nuisance to be attached to the worldwide Anglican body, which comprises groups which actually believe in Christ and behave like Churches. But if you want to see to what an extent it is a pure state bureaucracy, look at the career of the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby is a man who spent most of his adult life working in the City, that is, in finance. For reasons best known to himself – probably some sort of mid-life crisis – he had himself ordained and became a vicar. Now, whether this was decided from the start or not, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, decided that this ordinary vicar with the City experience was the man he wanted to lead the CofE, and so he made him a bishop, and then, within a year of that, Archbishop of Canterbury. And nobody said a thing, mind you; nobody made so much as a motion of surprise that a man with so few qualifications should be given the head job. Nobody cares.

      The Church of England, like the equally corrupt Lutheran holdovers of Germany and Scandinavia, exists not to preach Jesus crucified, but to make sure that any such preaching has no effect. It serves to focus the intellectual and spiritual resources of the nation on the state. Whether they admit it of not, the business-as-usual crowd, the people who run countries, tend to regard religion as a dangerous drug, getting control of people’s minds and moving them outside the sphere of business as usual. Bodies such as the Anglican and Lutheran state churches exist as a kind of methadone replacement for the heroin of a real, and especially a Christian, religion. And over centuries of capillary presence on the ground, each parish and vicarage appointed and paid for by the state, they have made a damn good job of it.

      • FW Ken

        Also, Abp. Welby is an Etonian. The interesting thing about him is his evangelical roots. Apparently, he speaks in tongues.

        Parallel would be the current presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. She was also a second vocationer, with a doctorate in marine life or something like that. She was for a while bishop of a diocese smaller than my Catholic parish, then got the big hat. Her lack of experience, coupled with her sick need to control, and destroy what she can’t controll, has wrought havoc on the already imploding Episcopal Church.

  • Andrew

    “Decades of blundering around, chasing the culture and trying to be politically correct rather than preaching Christ have taken their toll.”

    That’s what happens when you have an established religion.

    When church and state aren’t separate, the church becomes more like a state than vice-versa.


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