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Rowan Williams ignorant of church growth in UK

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by OzSpen, May 2, 2014.

  1. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    Have you read the article online from The Telegraph [UK] with the heading, 'Former archbishop of Canterbury: We are a post-Christian nation'? It begins:
    Exclusive: Former archbishop of Canterbury [Lord Rowan Williams] says Britain is no longer a nation of believers, as Telegraph poll reveals Christians are reluctant to express their faith.

    By Tim Ross, Cole Moreton and James Kirkup, 26 Apr 2014

    Britain is now a “post-Christian” country, the former archbishop of Canterbury has declared, as research suggests that the majority of Anglicans and Roman Catholics now feel afraid to express their beliefs.

    In an interview with The Telegraph, Lord Williams of Oystermouth says Britain is no longer “a nation of believers” and that a further decline in the sway of the Church is likely in the years ahead.

    While the country is not populated exclusively by atheists, the former archbishop warns that the era of regular and widespread worship is over.
    But do the statistics support such a negative view?

    Is Williams telling the truth? The Church of England Newspaper of today, 2 May 2014, has an article by David Goodhew of Cranmer Hall, Durham, 'Startling academic research shows widespread Church growth in Britain'. This research states that:
    An international team of leading researchers, based at Cranmer Hall, Durham, have just published a study entitled Church Growth in Britain from 1980 to the Present. Here are just a few of the extraordinary statistics that have been unearthed:

    - There are 500,000 Christians in black majority churches in Britain. Sixty years ago there were hardly any
    - At least 5,000 new churches have been started in Britain since 1980 – and this is an undercount. The true figure is probably higher
    - There are one million Christians in Britain from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities
    - The adult membership of the Anglican Diocese of London has risen by over 70 per cent since 1990.

    Research Endorsed by Bishops and Leading Academics

    This research has been endorsed by a range of senior academics and church leaders – from Justin Welby, the new Bishop of Durham, to Archbishop Vincent Nicholls, head of the Roman Catholic Church. Professor David Bebbington, the leading historian of evangelicalism comments: “This is excellent research. It is commonly supposed that the Christian church in Britain is moribund, but the essays in this volume all demonstrate, from different angles, that in the recent past there are signs of vitality and growth".
    Why don't you take a read of this article online to see the results of this research. It is contrary to Rowan Williams opinion. Fancy that?

    In Christ,
    Oz
     
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  2. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Can't speak for the entire country, but at least locally, church attendance has been on the decline.
     
  3. Nithavela

    Nithavela confused

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    Those data points look a bit all over the place and cherry picked to me.
     
  4. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Indeed.

    Rowan Williams is an incredibly intelligent man and has nothing to gain by lying about Christianity in Britain to portray it negatively.
     
  5. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    That's not the view of the research I quoted.

    Here in Qld, wherever theological liberalism has affected lots of Anglican churches, I observe decline. But there is a flourishing Anglican church locally that is very evangelical and has an outreach focus. But most of the Anglicans in Qld are infected with liberalism, whether that is modernism or postmodernism.

    I have a close friend who is a recently retired evangelical Anglican clergyman and he tells me of the demise of churches across the state under liberalism and their acceptance or promotion of homosexuality. That's what is happening locally for me.

    But I was quoting research from the UK that was released today, 2 May 2014.

    Oz
     
  6. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    Have you investigated the research methodology and conclusions from the research? I haven't. The CoE Newspaper is giving a summary of the research and is not giving the research document.
     
  7. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    But he's also liberal in his theological views. Intelligence doesn't exclude liberalism.

    George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, was an evangelical. Was he intelligent or not?
     
  8. Kalevalatar

    Kalevalatar Veteran

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    [​IMG]

    A few thoughts:

    1. "Institutionalized Christianity" vs. religiousness/spirituality

    47% of 18-34 year olds declare any religious affiliation, yet 67% of them said they pray.

    Believers or seekers outside the established Church institution/CoE <-- the era of individualism, cherry picking, smörgåsbords. The established Churches such as CoE expect its members to accept the whole package, if you will, the good and the tough ones. Whereas people in liberal democracies are tough consumers who prefer choice and freedom to choose, instant gratification, convenience, reinforcement and echo chambers for their personal world views and values.

    Then there's the "entertainment" factor, for instance, "low church" churches vs. solemn or "boring" same old same old liturgy of "old" Churches. Handsome English cathedrals are a selling point: 41% said the cathedral building was the attraction, which seems to lead to my next point:

    2. Cultural Christianity vs. personal belief in Jesus Christ

    38% regard themselves as "non-practising Christians" yet 56% consider Britain "a Christian country" -- Christianity seems to be part of the common cultural heritage rather than personal belief for many. Therefore, I don't think the Archbishop Emeritus is entirely wrong in calling Britain a "post-Christian" country:
    "If I say that this is a post-Christian nation, that doesn’t mean necessarily non-Christian. It means the cultural memory is still quite strongly Christian. And in some ways, the cultural presence is still quite strongly Christian. But it is post-Christian in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted.

    "A Christian nation can sound like a nation of committed believers, and we are not that. Equally, we are not a nation of dedicated secularists. I think we’re a lot less secular than the most optimistic members of the British Humanist Association would think."

    So are we a Christian nation or not? Yes or no? "A Christian country as a nation of believers? No. A Christian country in the sense of still being very much saturated by this vision of the world and shaped by it? Yes."
    3. The Good Old Times Bias

    When was this perfect era again when close to 100% of folks were "true Christians" and "real believers"? Was it at the time when the Church held considerable sway over people's lives, church attendance was mandatory under punishment, and being openly a non-believer not an option? Church attendance is still higher in places where the society expects you to show up for appearances' sake. Getting rid of such hypocricy is not necessarily a bad thing.

    4. I agree: fundies give the rest of us a bad name


    Therefore we should always vocally denounce the golden calves the fundamentalists worship as their false Gods.

    5. I agree: immigration is a real opportunity


    Matthew 28:18-20 comes back home. The Church needs to find new ways to reach out and not lose these sheep, either those from strong Christian countries such as Poland or those from strongly devout non-Christian countries.
     
  9. Paradoxum

    Paradoxum Liberty, Equality, Solidarity!

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    The link you gave is really vague and doesn't seem to tell me whether the number of people at church has gone up or down overall. eg: The same number of churches shutting as opening doesn't show anything. The new churches could be half the size.

    In many polls, most British people consider themselves to be non-religious, and only a small percentage (~10%) go to church regularly. In the census an abnormally high number say they are Christian (compared to other polls); I'm guessing because they just want to put something down, and they feel that Christian is the default. I put that I was Christian on the last census, though I wouldn't now.

    Looking at how people act in society, and how few people go to church regularly, I'd say Britain isn't a Christian country.
     
  10. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    For heaven's sake, this is only a grab of a few highlights from a church newspaper. If you want to find more complete details of the research at Durham University, I'll leave it to you to search out the research document. But this newspaper source does state that:
    An international team of leading researchers, based at Cranmer Hall, Durham, have just published a study entitled Church Growth in Britain from 1980 to the Present. Here are just a few of the extraordinary statistics that have been unearthed:
    So this is not research by some Mickey Mouse researchers trying to demonstrate something that is not there. I'm not here to defend what they found. That's for other researchers to critique. I'm simply reporting what I found in a newspaper that provided some drop down examples of what was found:
    Where you look affects what you find. The real picture for the last 30 years looks something like this: - Roughly the same number of churches have closed as have opened
    - Some denominations have seen serious decline – notably the ‘mainline’ denominations – Anglican, Methodist, URC, Catholic
    - Some churches have seen major growth; especially churches rooted in ethnic minority communities and newer denominations
    - Some parts of the mainline churches are seeing growth – Anglican growth centres on the Diocese of London (the one Anglican diocese which has consistently grown over the last 20 years) and new Anglican churches/fresh expressions.

    This research that was released at about the same time as a newspaper report of Rowan Williams' statement, 'Former archbishop of Canterbury [Lord Rowan Williams] says Britain is no longer a nation of believers, as Telegraph poll reveals Christians are reluctant to express their faith', shows that some churches saw major growth while mainline churches showed serious decline. Overall, there is another picture to provide a divergent view to that of Rowan Williams.


    Oz
     
  11. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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  12. Paradoxum

    Paradoxum Liberty, Equality, Solidarity!

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    My point is that this doesn't show a divergent view. It doesn't show that church attendance has grown overall, only that it has grown in some areas. If an overall increase had been found, I'd think that would have been reported by the Christian site.
     
  13. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    The original church research is from June 7, 2012 (as I've indicated in another post) and not from 2014, Startling academic research shows widespread church growth in Britain'.

    Some of its statistics are:
    Firstly, media, academia and many church leaders routinely ignore church growth. The growth of new churches and ethnic minority churchgoing has been happening for years – but it flies beneath the radar of most academics, most of the media and not a few in the Anglican Church.
    Secondly, evidence of church growth and decline needs to be looked at together. The contemporary British church is both declining and growing. Where you look affects what you find. The real picture for the last 30 years looks something like this:
    • Roughly the same number of churches have closed as have opened.
    • Some denominations have seen serious decline – notably the ‘mainline’ denominations
    – Anglican, Methodist, URC, Catholic
    • Some churches have seen major growth; especially churches rooted in ethnic minority communities and newer denominations
    • Some parts of the mainline churches are seeing growth – Anglican growth centres on the Diocese of London (the one Anglican diocese which has consistently grown over the last 20 years) and new Anglican churches/fresh expressions.


    I can hear where you are coming from. Please note the heading that incorporates 'widespread church growth in Britain'. This is what was reported in The Church of England Newspaper. It was reporting a dimension that was not in the Rowan Williams headline publicity.

    You stated: 'It doesn't show that church attendance has grown overall'. From where did you gain that information from the 2012 research?
     
  14. Paradoxum

    Paradoxum Liberty, Equality, Solidarity!

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    Why are you quoting this again? As I said, this doesn't show anything alone. I'll explain:

    The opened churches could have a smaller number of members, so that doesn't show anything about belief.

    This doesn't tell us whether there is net growth or decline.

    This again doesn;t tells us whether there is net growth or decline.

    But it doesn't report widespread church growth in Britain. There's no net evidence of growth that I've seen so far.

    From the information provided in the thread. Maybe there is growth, but everything I've seen so far gives no evidence of net growth.​
     
  15. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    In this thread we have been discussing popular level reports in newspapers of the research. You and I will not arrive at a conclusion concerning whether there has been net decline or growth of the church in the UK until we read the original research.

    I have not done this. Have you?

    I'll try to contact David Goodhew at Durham University, who headed up the research, to get his answer to the question you are asking.
     
  16. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    I have emailed Dr David Goodhew to ask him some of your questions and to get an Abstract of the research he authored.
     
  17. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member Supporter

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    E-mail Dr Williams as well for his perspective. He replies to e-mails.
     
  18. OzSpen

    OzSpen Regular Member

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    Have you interacted with him regarding the state of the church and Christianity in the UK? What research has Dr Williams done regarding the UK church situation?

    Oz
     
  19. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Not with regards to that specifically, but I'm sure he'll be happy to discuss it with you.
     
  20. Paradoxum

    Paradoxum Liberty, Equality, Solidarity!

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    If there were a net growth, I'd be surprised that it wasn't reported. I'm guessing someone read the original research to write the newspapers.

    I don't know, I'm just saying. :D
     
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