Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Losing our religion

According to a survey cited in The Times newspaper, around 75% of Church of England clergy believe that the UK can no longer be called a Christian country. The latest census data bears that out. In 2011 the number of people identified as Christian was 60%, but by 2021 that had dropped to 46%.

For hardline secularists the decline of Christianity in our country may be an occasion for rejoicing. But as Rod Liddle argued in a recent column in The Sunday Times, what we’re left with as Christian influence has receded is a more individualistic society, devoted to the pursuit of material gain. The trouble is that looking after number 1 and buying endless stuff online hardly satisfies the deepest longings of our souls.

Similarly, as Celia Walden reflected in an article in The Telegraph, we’ve swapped the worship of God for the worship of self, “as a secular society, we’ve thrown ourselves into the cult of self, precisely because we’re flailing, with no basic spiritual scaffold to keep us steady.” Welcome to the brave new post-Christian world.

But if we broaden our perspective to take in the global picture, Christianity is not in decline. The faith is advancing in China, Africa, South America and even Iran. Even here in the UK Rod Liddle points to the “rapidly growing numbers attending Pentecostal and evangelical churches — where eternal biblical certainties are still enjoined upon the worshippers”. This is evidenced in a piece in The Spectator by Dan Hitchens, Inside the fastest growing – and shrinking – churches in the UK

The worship of self and wealth are poor God-substitutes. The eternal biblical certainties set before us the one true and living God who is worth worshipping.  He is the God who sent his Son, the Lord Jesus to die for our sins and be raised from the dead that we may have the hope of everlasting life. Jesus calls us to renounce the cult of self saying, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

* For various local parish magazines and newspapers 

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