Durham Forward in Faith Chapter
A resumé of the Cost of Conscience Survey
The Mind of Anglicans
Friday 8th November 2002
It was the co-incidence of two quite different events which made the now well-known Survey The Mind of Anglicans possible in the first place.
The first was a letter from a solicitor in the USA telling me that the late Mr Fraser Barron who had died on 13th December 1999 had left Cost of Conscience the princely sum of $25,000 in his will.
Fraser Barron was a layman who had been deeply involved in the first Congress of St Louis as a leading light in the Association of Concerned Churchmen which called the congress together in 1977. Over eighteen hundred delegates took part, including Dr Trueman Dicken from England who played a major part in the (unsuccessful) attempt to steer the Americans away from the idea of consecrating their own bishops until they were ready for it.
I don’t need to go into all the details about St Louis Mk One, because you’ll have read about them in October’s New Directions. Suffice it to say that Fraser Barron and Trueman were close friends, and some seventeen years later Fraser consulted him about making a bequest in his Will to some organisation in the Church of England to help uphold the Catholic Faith which had been so gravely betrayed not only by the revisionists, but the 160 or more supposedly "Catholic" bishops who had come St Louis to assured those present that they could relied upon them. Thanks to Trueman’s advice, Fraser, who had misgivings about Forward in Faith at the time he was consulting him about his will, was persuaded to make Cost of Conscience his beneficiary. We, in turn, have tried to apply his money in close consultation with Forward in Faith in the belief that he would now have wholeheartedly approved of what it has become.
The second event happened a little while after Fraser’s death. I received notice of a lecture scheduled to be given in St Alban’s by Dr Peter Brierley of Christian Research on the subject of his latest book entitled The Tide is Running Out which was an analysis of statistics gleaned from several sources which anticipated the survey Hope for the Church by Bob Jackson of Springboard published last week. Both these surveys indicate how fast numbers have been haemorrhaging from the Church of England during the late 20th century. So, one snowy January morning in 2000 I went to hear what Peter Brierley had to say.
His talk, generously illustrated by slides, left me in no doubt that there was an important gap in Forward in Faith’s armour. We simply did not know, other than anecdotally, what effect, if any, 1992-And-All-That had had on the Church of England, and in particular on our own constituency represented by Cost of Conscience and Forward in Faith.
Of anecdotes there was no shortage. Everyone could describe churches which had, seemingly, been emptied by the induction of women clergy; but for every such anecdote one heard about another case where it had, apparently, made little or no difference, with parishes which were supposedly "soundly Catholic" following the departure of their incumbent in the wake of 1992, seamlessly accommodating themselves to the novelty, if not by accepting women clergy at least by welcoming as an incumbent anyone who would do the "right" things ceremonially and liturgically regardless of his beliefs or lack of them.
When Fraser Barron’s bequest arrived, Cost of Conscience had no doubt that part of it should be spent on a fact-finding survey such as Dr Brierley and Christian Research would be able to deliver. We had a preliminary meeting with Peter early in 2001 during which we discussed with him the different types of survey he might undertake, and he gave us some idea of what such surveys would respectively cost. A few months later we assembled a small Committee to meet him having decided what we wanted, namely that:
It should be as representative as possible of the present consist of the Church of England. To quote Robbie Low:
We wanted the broadest spread possible, North/ South, large and small parishes, urban/suburban/rural, male/female, clergy/laity, across the age groups, marital status and churchmanship exactly according to the known proportions in the Cof E. Using CR's exceptional database we asked them to bring as completely a representative picture as possible of the current state of play. In short, we wanted the truth.
It should be conducted in such a way as to conceal as far as possible the identity of those who had commissioned it and their purpose in doing so. In order to increase the likelihood of our concealment being successful, such questions as might have given the show away (e.g. about women bishops) were carefully scattered about through the questionnaire and deliberately phrased to avoid indicating any particular predisposition on the part of the authors. So, for example Questions 26a and 26b regarding women bishops were in a section headed "Church Government", and were separated physically as well as numerically by being on another page from Questions 18a & 18b (about Women Priests) which appeared under the heading "Personal Beliefs"
The reason for insisting on a representative survey was two-fold. Had we only surveyed one particular "lobby" or "integrity" we would have made the same mistake as Christina Rees which misled her into believing that eighty percent of the Church of England was in favour of women bishops. Choosing too narrow a group for a survey makes it deceptively easy to "prove" from its results anything one wants. Secondly, even if such results turn out to be unexpectedly favourable about the extent of the support which your cause enjoys, it’s far more devastating to be able to tell opponents the truth about their constituency than to boast, however truthfully, about one’s own. In the event, as we shall see, this strategy proved to be the right one.
Regarding secrecy: we knew that if it were to become known that the Survey emanated from a particular stable it would inevitably skew the responses both of those sympathetic and those hostile towards the commissioning body. In the event we were staggered that nobody, (but nobody!) apparently guessed correctly who was behind it.
It was decided to produce different, though overlapping, questionnaires for clergy and laity. After some convincing we agreed to use the categories of churchmanship which Christian Research regularly adopts (Anglo-Catholic, Liberal, Catholic, Evangelical, Broad, Charismatic, Low church, Orthodox, Radical and Other). Peter stressed that he would agree to use other categories if we insisted; in the event we wisely agreed to use his classification though some of us were (and still are) uncertain about the difference between "Catholic" and "Anglo-Catholic". This was evidently no problem for the respondents which was the important thing, and another reason to use a service with wide professional experience!
In the course of the Survey Peter indicated to us firstly that the level of response was quite outstandingly high; and he added that, from what he had seen from the early analysis of replies that we should find some very interesting results – which indeed we did.
So now, without more ado, let me reveal to you some of those results, acknowledging as we all do our deep indebtedness to Fr Robbie Low whose masterly collation of some of the findings has been published in New Directions between July and September this year.
Robbie Low says:
[I]t was a remarkable exercise, not least for its response rate. Of the 3,500 plus priests asked, 46% responded! (Those who deal with clergy will appreciate that this is in the realm of the miraculous!) The lay response was an astonishing 76%! Both of these figures are exceptional. Many wrote in to give additional information. Not a few complimented it as the best survey they had seen. A small number refused to complete it as it was 'obviously from a group of evangelicals'! It was difficult to know whether to be amused or saddened.
I dwell on the credentials of this report because it is important for you to know that it does not favour 'us' or ' them', or anyone in between. It is the unvarnished facts – kosher. In this issue and next month's I am going to look at some of the answers to key questions and their implications for the Church of England in general and orthodox Anglicans in particular.
It is instructive to read at this point what Fr Low says about one particular question, since, in one sense it was a "presenting issue" – Women Bishops – given that the Rochester Commission was due to make its interim presentation to General Synod immediately after the first of his articles was published. So let us hear what he has to say. I quote:
In depth research
The previous much-hyped survey by Christina Rees claimed over 80 per cent of the Church of England in favour of women bishops. We wanted to know:
a) if this were indeed the case
b) which parts of the Church were most enthusiastic and which least.
(Was there, for example, a simple correlation between the apparent 20 per cent objectors and a 20 per cent of the Church known statistically to be Anglo-Catholic?)
Four options were put to our clerical respondents:
1) I am looking forward to having our own female bishop.
2) There shouldn't be any female bishops.
3) Female bishops can preach but not officiate or stay in a province which doesn't have female bishops.
4) Accepting that female bishops are part of the Anglican Communion, they should stay in their own province.
The enthusiasts (Option 1) registered 51%
The implacable opposition (Option 2) was 25%
The two NIMBY (‘not-in-my-backyard’) options shared the remaining 24% almost equally.
Half and Half
These figures reveal a Church that is almost exactly divided on the issue. The support is significant, but much lower than had been claimed. The determined opposition is higher than previously estimated. What must alarm the proponents, and the bishops who must press the red or green light, is the quarter of the Church which has reluctantly tolerated a decade of other people's experimentation, but remains apparently unconvinced. It is easy for a parish and priest to behave as if women priests didn't exist without ever signalling opposition and incurring the wrath of the diocesan. It is impossible for them to ignore a woman bishop.
The breakdown of the figures into clergy churchmanship is also revealing. The Anglo- Catholics have 26% in favour and the Catholics in 39% in favour! Although this may seem surprising these figures correlate almost exactly to the number of ‘Affirming Catholics’ who were polled for these self defining constituencies. Remember they are more than doubly represented here. It is also worth noting that many of the women priests polled (again in direct proportion to their numbers in the church) would, perhaps to our astonishment, define themselves as Catholics or even Anglo-Catholics. The majorities against of 74% and 61% respectively are, for the opponents then, a more than worst-case scenario in their own constituencies. ( If ‘Aff/Cath’ votes were adjusted for their true proportionality in the church the hostile majorities in the catholic constituencies would rise to approximately 85% and 76% respectively).
The significance of these figures is hard to exaggerate. To any reasonably-minded person, whether he were in Industry, Parliament or the Judiciary, they would at least sound a note of caution about pursuing a policy which would be at once so far-reaching in its effects and seemingly unpopular in its appeal. The figures by themselves, of course, prove nothing. Anyone sufficiently desperate about what the figures indicate can take refuge in the last resort in the suggestion which one bishop was heard to make when the Survey’s findings became known, that Christian Research had somehow been nobbled to cook the books at Cost of Conscience’s behest. That must surely go down in history with Bishop Barbara Harris’s suggestion at the Lambeth Conference that the African Bishops whose voting patterns had so sorely displeased her had been "bought with chicken dinners".
But of course we aren’t dealing with reasonably-minded people. We are faced with a powerful, but by no means omnipotent or invulnerable caucus, who are the victims of their own dogma. According to their lights, if Natural Justice must take precedence over prudence, tradition, theology and even over the will of God as revealed to us in Scripture and interpreted by the undivided Church, and if Women Bishops are an example of Natural Justice then nothing, yes Nothing, and Nobody including the Almighty Himself, must be allowed to stand in the way of its happening ASAP!
These are men who have lost their horizons. Successful navigation depends upon having at least two horizons, a celestial on to indicate the ship’s direction and a terrestrial one to indicate one’s location. Those who have gratuitously been rewriting our theology for us have effectively lost sight of both. In the celestial region they have substituted for a God who "at sundry times and in divers manners" has graciously revealed himself to Man, a god who is an inflated version of a 20th century benevolent bishop; in terrestrial terms they have striven for all they are worth to remove all the landmarks their own and their neighbours, and elevate in their place a code of morality based on "what every reasonable person sees as self-evident.
Now, of course, the revealed and its man-made substitute may from time to time to time coincide. It would be as remarkable to find that they never, as that they invariably did so They are correct, moreover, in pointing out that the our terrestrial horizon will vary to some extent upon how we look at it. But that is a very different thing from saying that the perspectives which have guided the Church (and Wise Men of all cultures) are simply past their sell-by date; for to expect to find the truth by solely gazing inwards upon ourselves, making each individual his own horizon so to speak, is even less likely to result in satisfactory navigation than the method it has replaced.
However, whilst liberal-revisionists may not be susceptible to reason they are extraordinarily sensitive to suggestion. With this in mind we invited Dr Brierley to run a further analysis of the respondents whose parishes had passed either or both the resolutions allowed under the measure (Resolution A: No women priest officiating; Resolution B: No woman incumbent).
Here, says Low, a curious fact emerged. To quote:
In Resolution A parishes over a quarter of incumbents were ' looking forward to our own female bishop'.
In Resolution B parishes nearly 40% of the incumbents were pro women bishops!
Our survey revealed that almost 80 per cent of incumbents had come to their present post after 1992 and that 50 per cent had done less than five years there. What these facts tell us is that bishops have quite deliberately targeted A + B parishes in a way they could not target C parishes who were protected by the Flying Bishops. By the persistent appointment of leaders unsympathetic to the declared doctrinal stance of A+B parishes there has been a deliberate effort to undermine opposition to the liberalizing policies of the diocesan. We have known this from an unending flood of anecdotal evidence from priests, people, Flying Bishops and sympathetic Archdeacons, but here we have the figures to illustrate how pervasive and deliberate that incursion has become. The 'Open Process of Reception' turned out to be little more than a smokescreen for ruthlessness and insincerity. These figures reveal precisely why Brierley's splendid database has thrown up the double representation of ‘Affirming Catholics’. Previously impeccable Catholic parishes (and from these figures a large number of Evangelical parishes too) have been persuaded to accept the bishop's candidate who, to quote a phrase, 'does not necessarily share the views of the parish, but will respect them.’ Pause for hollow laughter.
Equally remarkable, but even more alarming for those in the Establishment who would have us believe that the question of women priests/bishops was and is no more nor less than a simple matter of Natural Justice, was the enquiry into what people, priests in particular actually believe.
This was a survey, remember, in which information was freely volunteered by those who gave it, under the seal of anonymity. It was therefore as likely as anything to provide honest answers. Very well. Now see what they said.
A number of questions were put to the respondents who were invited to indicate (by ticking a box) which of the following responses most closely corresponded with their own:
So that there shall be no doubt, here are the questions in full:
14. How strongly do you feel about these statements?
|Believe without question||Believe but not sure I understand||Mostly believe||Not sure I believe this||Definitely don't believe|
|a.||I believe in God the Father who created the world||q||q||q||q||q|
|b.||I believe that Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin||q||q||q||q||q|
|c.||I believe that Jesus Christ died to take away the sins of the world||q||q||q||q||q|
|d.||I believe that Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead||q||q||q||q||q|
|e.||I believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can be saved||q||q||q||q||q|
|f.||I believe that the Holy Spirit is a person who empowers Christians today||q||q||q||q||q|
|g.||I believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ & the Holy Spirit are all equally God||q||q||q||q||q|
We wanted to know if there was any difference between the responses of female clergy and male clergy. We asked Christian Research to analyse the results and report back. Because the female sample is a smaller number it is important to state that there is a plus or minus 5% margin of error on these figures.
The Holy Trinity
Female clergy’s confident belief in God the Father registered 74%. Male clergy returned 83%. A correspondent to The Times protested that if there had been an option of God the Mother women priests would have done better. We have no reason to argue with that assertion. It is eloquent.
Female clergy returned a 70% confidence in the doctrine of the Trinity, male clergy posted 78%. The female score was undoubtedly boosted by the enthusiasm, in feminist quarters, for the Trinity as a model of relational theology.
On the Holy Spirit, often dubbed by women as feminine and the Sophia, matters were much closer 74% (F) to 77% (M).
If these figures illustrate a gap between the sexes on central articles of faith, they are as nothing to what happens when we begin to ask about Jesus, the defining person of the faith.
‘I believe Jesus Christ died to take away the sins of the world’ is confidently asserted by 76% of male clergy. This confidence falls to 65% in women clergy.
Jesus is asserted as the only way to salvation by a pitiful 53% of male clergy. Even so, this is streets ahead of the women priests who can only muster a 39% assurance.
Belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is more positive with male clergy confidence up to 68%, while female clergy just make it over the halfway line at 53%.
Belief in the Virgin Birth tumbles to 58% certainty in male clergy and collapses to a dismal 33% in women clergy.
Even allowing for the maximum margin of error there is a huge gulf between the genders on the person of Jesus. Gaps of 3%, 8% and 9% on the other persons of the Trinity grow to 11%, 14%, 15% and 25% when we come to Christ!
These figures will not come as a great surprise to those familiar with feminist theology and the women’s movement in the Church. They may come as a shock to many ordinary churchgoers (and clergy) who have accepted the innovation of women priests without enquiring too closely into the movement’s origins and ends. The figures on women clergy beliefs are truly shocking. The senior analyst, who researched these figures, himself a supporter of women priests, remarked to me, as he handed them over, ‘This is very bad news for the future of the Church of England.’
If the women clergy figures are shocking, and they are, the men clergy figures are hardly reassuring. The question naturally arises, Was the weakness across the board of churchmanship in men or was it to be located more specifically?
One of the questions we had asked was for our respondents to identify organizations or movements with which they were associated. Clergy membership and affinity here would likely give some kind of steer on doctrinal bases.
The first thing that became apparent was that one group was disproportionately represented in the tally. Christian Research, with its impeccable database, had managed to throw up twice as many Affirming Catholic clergy as there are, proportionately, in the Church of England. Indeed, we had returns from the equivalent of one third of its actual clerical membership. It was the one blip in the otherwise exact proportions of all categories of priest, parish, gender, urban/suburban/rural, large/small etc etc. How had this come about? Was there a fault on Christian Research’s database?
The answer was utterly revealing. Parishes that had always been reliable traditional Catholic parishes on the database now were showing up with Affirming Catholic incumbents. Parishes that had passed Resolution ‘A’ (no women priests) now had 25% of their incumbents appointed who were in favour. Parishes that had passed Resolution ‘B’ (no women incumbents) were now showing 40% of the incumbents appointed in favour of women bishops. The ‘error’ was not an error at all but revealed with startling clarity the appointments policy of the bishops.
Affirming Catholicism was founded by, inter alia, men like the former Primus of Scotland, Richard Holloway, and the Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, ‘to put the Catholic view in a positive light’. This was shorthand for being enthusiastic for women priests and positively tolerant of practising homosexuality. It has always been known by traditional Catholics as ‘girls at your altars, boys in your beds’. This has made its members particularly useful to liberal bishops seeking to undermine traditional parishes. In spite of this and in spite of Holloway’s apparent newly embraced atheism, Affirming Catholicism has always claimed to be fundamentally Catholic. This survey was about to test that claim.
(Other groups were proportionately represented with Evangelical Alliance at 28%, Forward in Faith 10%, Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement 5%, Reform 5%, WATCH (women’s lobby) 4% , Prayer Book Society 3.5% ( in reality much bigger but mainly a lay organization), and Modern Churchpersons Union 2.5%. The Affirming Catholic clergy accounted for 18% of the survey. In reality they are about 8% of the parochial workforce.)
Margins of Error
The larger groups’ returns may be subject to a plus or minus 5% margin of error. In the case of Affirming Catholicism this is, in practice, much smaller as we have, in fact, returns from one third of their clerical support. With the smaller groups there is a plus or minus 8% margin of error. As we are about to see, this doesn’t, in fact, make a great deal of difference.
A confident belief in God the Father showed Reform out in front at 96% followed closely by Evangelical Alliance (EA) at 93% and Forward in Faith (FiF) at 91%. Prayer Book Society (PBS) clocked in at 84% before we drop to 70% for Affirming Catholics (Aff/Caths), 66% for WATCH, 53% for Lesbian &Gay (LGCM) and Modern Churchpersons (MCPU) at 39%.
The Virgin Birth sees Reform at 92% certainty, EA at 85%, FiF 82%.
Aff/Caths lead the liberal charge with 24%! WATCH scores 20%, LGCM 17%, and MCPU 8%. (It is unkind but irresistible to remind you that there is a possible 8% margin of error on these last three figures.)
Here, as may be expected by long-term observers of the Church’s drift into liberalism, is a critical fault line. The main lobby groups for the liberal causes simply have no grip on the central doctrine of the Incarnation. With this profound weakness at the heart of their theology, it should follow that the place of Christ as unique, definitive and determinative should be similarly impaired. We are not surprised, therefore, to learn that the uniqueness of Jesus as Saviour of the world shows a similar disturbing split.
While Reform leads again with 92% confidence, WATCH leads the liberals with 22%. Aff/Caths declared 21% certainty, LGCM 12% and MCPU 6%.
With such a view, the whole task of mission is obsolete. If Jesus Christ is simply one of the ‘many ways up the mountain’, then most of the Church’s endeavour, not to mention the witness of her saints and martyrs, has been a profound waste of time.
Salvation in Christ
There is some recovery of confidence in the third question about Jesus. That he died to take away the sins of the world has Reform on 96% conviction, EA 92%, FiF 86% and PBS 84%.
WATCH leads the liberals again with 57%, Aff/Caths 53%, LGCM 38% and MCPU 25% in its familiar position.
However, when we return to confidence in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, figures for the liberal groups slump again. While Reform posts 93%, EA 91% and FiF 83%, WATCH manages 36%, a whisker ahead of Aff/Caths at 35% with LGCM at 25% and MCPU at 12%.
It is worth remembering with all these figures that they are returns from clergy who are supposed to be teaching the faith and preaching the gospel.
An embarrassing number seem to be drawing their stipends under false pretences.
Even when the liberal groups make a stronger showing, for example WATCH and Aff/Caths get over 60% for the Trinity and the Holy Spirit, LGCM gets up to 50% and even MCPU records 39%, it is still an alarming performance and between 40 and 50% adrift of traditionalist Evangelicals and Catholic groups. The clear implication of these revelations is that the liberal groups either do not understand the Church’s teaching about Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour or they simply reject it wholesale. The figures reveal a substantial proportion of clergy who must say the Creed with their fingers crossed.
Ignorance and doubt
What should be equally alarming is the level of ignorance. The liberal groups regularly returned some 20%+ of their clergy who claimed not to understand a particular doctrine. Levels of incomprehension in traditionalist groups, by contrast, averaged single figures. Again, in the biggest trad groups (EA, FiF, Reform) scarcely 1% evinced positive disbelief in any credal item or even agnosticism. In contrast, again, definite disbelief and proclaimed agnosticism reached levels as high as 82% in some liberal groups, seldom dropped below 20%, and in matters pertaining to Christ were especially weak.
I shall return to the extraordinary nature of these findings at the end, but there were two more questions that required investigation. We asked Christian Research if there were any obvious links or overlaps between membership of the various groups. Not surprisingly, most members of Reform were also associated with the umbrella group Evangelical Alliance. Forward in Faith clergy (I was pleased to discover) showed a 16% membership of that sinister and reactionary force, the Prayer Book Society! No other significant percentage associations occurred in the traditionalist camp.
When we turn to the liberal groups there is a significant cross membership. Nearly 20% of the Affirming Catholics were connected to Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, 11% to MCPU and 14% to WATCH. A quarter of WATCH respondents register their link with LGCM and a further 15% with MCPU. The association between the feminist and the gay lobby is logical in that both require a reductionist view of the authority of the Word of God.
The links between these groups are marked by the independent analyst at Christian Research as, ‘statistically significant and could not have arisen by chance’.
Women bishops and belief
In the light of all the above there was one final question we wanted asked by Christian Research in this particular area: Was there any difference in the beliefs of those who wanted women bishops and those who didn’t? Given the fact that ‘pro women bishops’ clocked up 51% among the clergy, their support cannot simply have come from the liberal groups. They must have some Evangelicals and Catholics among their supporters. Also, we can be pretty clear from the figures published last month that there are a good number of liberals who are not altogether happy about the prospect of women bishops. This is unlikely to be for doctrinal reasons. So it is important to get some idea of the doctrinal balance in the pro- and anti-camps.
Christian Research provided the following breakdown.
Those against women bishops (A), either implacably opposed or simply not wanting them in their province, gave God the Father a confident 89%. Those in favour of women bishops (F) only 76% unequivocal support.
The Holy Trinity sees ‘A’ at 85%, ‘F’ at 69% conviction.
The Holy Spirit sees ‘A’ at 83%, ‘F’ at 71% certainty.
Again, when we turn to Christ, the gap widens.
Jesus dying for our sins sees ‘A’ at 84% , ‘F’ at 65%.
The bodily resurrection gets 77% solid support from ‘A’, only 54% from ‘F’
The uniqueness of Christ, consistently weak, gets 62% from ‘A’ and a mere 39% conviction from ‘F’.
The Virgin Birth records 70% from ‘A’ and 40% from ‘F’.
The independent analyst concludes these figures with the sublime understatement that those who are not looking forward to the advent of women bishops ‘have a stronger belief system than those who are. ’ Indeed, had we only included the figures for those who stated themselves implacably opposed to women bishops the ‘A’ figures would have been much higher in credal confidence and thus the gap much wider.
What has emerged from the results of this survey is the final exposure of two separate churches co-existing uncomfortably within the bosom of Anglicanism. One is essentially credally orthodox and committed to the historic and Apostolic mission of the Church. The other is wrapped in the garments of Christian language, but has only the most tenuous grasp of the central teachings of the faith. It is no surprise that liberalizers are tempted to distort or ignore the Word of God to achieve their political agenda in the Church but the degree to which this is revealed here is truly shocking.
Shocking, not surprising. For it is the General Synod nowadays which decides to all intents and purposes what the Church of England believes and teaches. The synod, we are told, is above all else representative of the Church of England as a whole. Now if it is representative then it follows that much of our official beliefs and practices are being shaped, if not determined, by people whose belief in the faith once delivered to the saints is distinctly tenuous; if on the other hand the membership of General Synod is atypical of the Church of England as a whole then we have been seriously misled as to its nature. It was created, remember, to "bring democracy to the C of E. What it would seem to have done is to disseminate error, doubt and scepticism in large quantities!
Even if we ignore what General Synod gets up to, there remains for many people another very worrying question which is this:
"My Vicar publicly every Sunday recites the Creed in church. In the course of it he/she states unequivocally that, amongst other things, he/she believes that Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, rose from the dead, and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. If he/she is one of the percentage who is anything less than certain about the truth of what he/she is saying, how can I be certain about anything else that he/she says?"
Who can be surprised if people who are in search of certitude and faith decide to look elsewhere? Or (more likely) simply abandon the attempt entirely!
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