Times letters: Changing attitudes in the Church of England

Aug 31, 2023 by

Sir, The Church of England clergy are way off message (“Britain isn’t a Christian nation now, say clergy”, news, Aug 30). Christians are leaving the C of E because they do not like the progressive liberal church and want authentic Christianity instead.

In Shrewsbury we have dwindling congregations in the three large town centre C of E churches. Meanwhile the tiny Greek Orthodox Church has a regular British congregation of more than 200 and is expanding because it preaches straight from the Bible and is therefore believed in.

I think it would be better to survey congregations across all Christian churches not just the progressive C of E pushing for modernisation, which is the cause of its own decline.

Tristram Llewellyn Jones 
Church Stretton, Shropshire

Sir, Anglican clergy have concluded that Britain is no longer a Christian nation. Perhaps more to the point, is the Anglican church still a Christian church? One of the distinctive features of a truly Christian church is acceptance of the authority of the Bible, yet most of the clergy disregard its clear teaching and seek to conform to the world’s ways rather than to God’s word. More than at any other time, the church needs strong leadership that has confidence in its foundations.

Dr Brian Scott, 

Sir, I wonder if the results of your survey would have been different if you had asked only vicars of growing churches. As a retired yet active clergyman I help lead a well-attended village church in the Cotswolds. We teach the Bible as the word of God, believe in the resurrection of Jesus, the power of prayer and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Why attend a church where the vicar does not believe these things and bangs on about climate change and food banks? Important though such things are, they are not the gospel.

Canon Andrew Wingfield Digby
 Witney, Oxon

Sir, As a person of faith who is outside the Church of England, I am saddened that one of the consequences of its decline is the loss of social cohesion that churches helped to provide. Meeting every Sunday meant local people interacted, families linked up and individuals felt valued. That may not have been its core purpose, but it was very powerful, and is missed in a world that can feel fractured and isolating. My synagogue, also subject to the same secularism, has stemmed the tide so far by morphing into a community centre rather than just a house of prayer. Maybe the church can do the same.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain
 Maidenhead Synagogue

Sir, Your leading article (Aug 30) exhorts the Church of England to “get on and modernise”. It is already doing so and it is a disaster.

Canon David Hall
 Christ Church, Chorleywood, Herts

Sir, It was depressing to read that clergy want significant changes in teaching to bring the church more in line with public opinion. If Jesus, the apostles and the early church had done that the Christian faith would not have survived beyond the 1st century. Thankfully the countercultural gospel they proclaimed challenged public opinion and churches that remain faithful to the biblical message rather than public opinion have often grown rather than declined.

Andrew Brown
East Grinstead, W Sussex

Read the Times here

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