Coffee House

The future of Christianity in Britain? Christian first, denominational second

23 June 2013

4:38 PM

23 June 2013

4:38 PM

What is the future of Christianity in Britain, Mr Moore?’ I was asked as I rushed down the stairs to catch a train. I wished I had the gift of concision of the late William Douglas-Home, who, when asked in an exam paper ‘What is the future of coal?’, wrote ‘Smoke’. I had just been addressing a meeting of the Friends of the Ordinariate, the body set up by Pope Benedict to enable Anglicans to be in communion with the Catholic Church without abandoning the liturgical and spiritual traditions of their Anglicanism. It tries to bring reality to Jesus’ own statement: ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’

One of the least-noticed changes in recent times is that the ecumenical movement, having originally been advanced by liberals, is now, in essence, evangelical. As was borne out by last week’s visit of Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, to the new Pope Francis in Rome, the two men share a religion which is missionary and Biblical. (And both of them follow Ignatian spiritual  discipline.) It does not mean that the differences about orders etc are unimportant — hence, indeed, the existence of the Ordinariate —  but it does mean that the chalice is half-full rather than half-empty.


So I suppose my esprit d’escalier answer to the questioner I short-changed is: ‘The future of Christianity in Britain is that it will be Christian first, denominational second.’ Much misery has been caused by the fact that, for almost 500 years, it was the other way round.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator’s Notes in this week’s magazineClick here to subscribe from just £1/week.

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Show comments
  • Robert Mitchum

    I think the C of E might have a problem integrating with the others as they seem to have a severe collective speech problem – the words “Jesus Christ” just will not come out and every time they try, “socialism” pops out instead.

  • NBeale

    Christian first, denominational second – good. That is always how it should be.

    And I don’t think we need to fear that Islam will take over. The majority of people in the UK claim to be Christian and under Welby’s leadership the churches are starting to fill up again. A religion that maintains its hold on its followers by fear and threats of violence will not thrive greatly in a pluralist society. And secularism has manifestly failed, intellectually, morally and socially.

  • Trudi

    The State certainly wants an end to the Church, in particular it’s role within the Establishment. Our Monarch/Upper House/CofE/Executive structure is preventing our absorbtion into the EU so obviously they must be dismantled. At ground level, the Church encourages public meetings of signficant numbers which cannot be supervised, so they plainly form a risk to the State. The Human condition has not changed an iota, there is still a role for what the Church used to provide, and life does tend to be cyclical. Much Church estate is very expensive to heat and maintain, in the very long run modernised premises may well be a boon.

  • Roy

    The sorry state of the Christian Churches is mainly due to the distribution of a new era of enlightenment throughout the population. They just don’t believe in the Bible any more. When people have a choice free from compulsion, they do what they think is right in conjunction with their inner feelings and their life experiences tell them. Not what a group of frock coated clerics have to say. This is an ideal circumstance for a new wave of quickly spreading perfectly organised theocracy to take hold. Along with a plentiful mass importation of already brain addled congregation, these people cannot believe their luck to have a country ready and willing for a takeover. Entrapped within their culture as before, they lack any freedoms the new country should give them. With a ready made welfare system they can concentrate on the job in hand without any side issues of how to make a living. The Westminster crowd, the English Church along with the BBC is a phenomena of twisting the truth that would sooner help the new lot than even contemplate devising a better arrangement.

  • Paul Weston

    The last Census reveals that our future will not be Christian first and denominational second Mr Moore, but Islam first and Christianity similar to that of the Copts in Egypt…..I appreciate you are talking only of Christianity, but it beggars belief you can talk about the future without mentioning the rise and rise of Islam!

    • itbeso

      Per 2011 Census: The rise in Islam is in direct proportion to their increase in the population.doubled to nearly 5% in 10 years. People aren’t converting in droves to Islam. The fall in Christianity in the UK would have ben greater if the immigrant population hadn’t shored it up a little. Catholic Poles for example.

  • Fred Scuttle

    Born of ignorance, no religion has any long term future. it’s the lack of gods that’s the problem.

  • 2trueblue

    Welby is now moving to a position of being the Liebore party at prayer.

    It would be helpful if those who are guiding their flock could concentrate on that and ensure that there is a strong and clear basis for them to follow, engage with, and lead their lives to the very best way that they can. That is surely what the aim should be?

    • Trudi

      He refused to attend the Pope’s inauguration? Doesn’t that speak volumes?

      • 2trueblue

        Certainly does. Big ego.

  • stickytape

    Unless the book of common prayer is re-written in arabic, the future of anglicanism is only going one way, straight down the plug hole. I dearly wish it wasn’t so.

    • Cumberland

      What good would that be to most muslims, they don’t speak, write or understand Arabic, Many Arabs don’t read or write or understand Arabic, The clerics would need to take up your recommendation it is they who instruct the faithful.

      • stickytape

        It was written tongue in cheek Cumberland. I accept that there may be many illiterate Arabs, but I think all Arabs will understand arabic, if not all muslims.

  • Austin Barry

    The future of religion?

    Let’s just say that I’m getting rid of my dog, submitting to circumcision and taking a knife to Mrs Barry’s genitals.

    So, goodbye bacon sandwiches and hello halal.

    That’s where religion in this country is headed under the future sanctimonious guidance of the ‘Defender of Faiths’.

    • Daniel Maris

      It was rumoured that King John looked into converting to Islam as a way out of his problems. For Monarchs principles are the equivalent of plastic jewelry from Claire’s Accessories for teenage girls.

      I trust Mrs Barry’s offered no protest but if she did, just announce “I divorce you” three times and you are rid of your disloyal spouse.

  • Tom Tom

    I think Charles Moore you have an Institutional Christianity which is a Love of The Church rather than of the Christian Faith. It is a feature of Anglicans that they are “churched” as opposed to Christians who might survive underground in Catacombs. There is a conservatism and passivity to their Christianity which is institutionalised in an organisation called “the Church” rather than “the Congregation” which is ALL the Bible mentions. There is no Roman Catholic or Anglican Church in The Bible….only Congregations and it is at odds with the Established Order. the Established Church is defuncy because what attracts you to it is precisely what makes many of us revolt

    • telemachus

      Hear hear
      We all serve one God
      Whether through the Bible, the Talmud or the Koran

      • Charles Martel

        No we don`t actually. The god of Islam is not the God of the Abrahamic faiths. The crescent symbol of the pagan moon god Hubal, also referred to as al-illah a generic term meaning “the god”, stood over the Kabah 400 years before Mohammed began promoting his new religion.Each local pagan Arab tribe would refer to their own local tribal pagan god as “al-ilah”. Mohammed redefined this generic polytheism in monotheistic terms. Islam is no more or less than an Arab lunar paganism.

        • Cumberland

          And not the religion of peace.

        • itbeso

          It is actually one of the 3 Abrahamic faiths. Their God has just called himself different names over the years. El, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Allah. Allah is the god of the old testament he just has a new monica.

      • Cumberland

        Oh really!

      • Dogsnob

        Just so plainly incorrect.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Do any of you Speccie teenagers have a clue about religion? You throw around these terms, “ecumenical” and “evangelical”, seemingly without a care as to what they mean… they seem just random words randomly tossed into your latest blog fantasy.

    • Magnolia

      Dear essence of Juniper bush and vodka, Charles Moore is one of this country’s finest writers.
      He is not a ‘Speccie Teenager’.
      He is one of the ‘thinkers’

      • the viceroy’s gin

        We sure wouldn’t know it from the above bit of nothingness.

      • allymax bruce

        Charles Moore is only another nepotistic product of ‘Shalom! (trouser-leg rolled up), Shalom; ahh, what tribe are you? Placeman. All the MSM are useless wannabe ‘pretendy’ journalists; they don’t know the first thing about journalism. Guardian, Times, etc, all useless, talentless nepo’s. His ridiculous articles, all run down Christianity, because they think it’s funny; jokes on them; Jesus is not a jew, Jesus is Christian!

        • 2trueblue

          Wellington had a great line, when asked if he was Irish because he was born in Ireland. ” Because I was born in Ireland does not make me an Irishman, anymore than Jesus being born in a stable makes him a horse”. Or a jew, for that matter. I think he used less words!

          • allymax bruce

            Wonderful quote; funny, quip, and eminently profound.
            Thank you.

  • swatnan

    The rift between Cof E and RC is as strong as ever; and one can understand why the Shiites and Sunnis are their own worst enemy. Any moves towards harmony and reonciliation and truth would be welcome. It would save innocent bystanders like myself from suffering the fallout between these two antagonists and being casualties from the collateral damage. I say a plague on both their houses.

    • Cumberland

      Hadn’t noticed this, maybe a few tuts now and then, so how many bombs and deaths have you managed to dodge this month.

      • swatnan

        Its been tougher than a Dan Brown novel, but survival in a secular society is the name of the game, dodging fatwahs decrees indulgences lobbed at one from religious bigots all around. Its tough but secularism will win through in the end, and common sense.

  • CraigStrachan

    Or, as William Douglas Home might put it, “incense”.