The Future of the Christian Church in the UK

LST Rising Theologian Competition Entry

Then

LST Rising TThe abolitionist, William Wilberforce wrote in the early 1800s about the state of religious belief at that time. Even with the hypocrisy of the society’s denial or indifference to the evil of slavery, it, at the time could still be called Christian. He lamented of faith that lacked vigour and was merely a matter of tradition, a keeping up appearances of faithfulness while slowly rotten away on the inside.

The pattern of a people abandoning the faith generally follows the sequence of a second generation after a faithful one that simply assumes rather than reiterate the essentials of the faith. The third generation, He has this to say about:

The study of Christianity has formed no part of his education; and his attachment to it, is too often, not the preference of sober reason and conviction, but merely the result of early and groundless prepossession. He was born in a Christian country; of course he is a Christian: his father was a member of the Church of England; so is he. When such is the religion handed down among us by hereditary succession, it cannot surprise us to observe young men of sense and spirit beginning to doubt altogether of the truth of the system in which they have been brought up, and ready to abandon a station which they are unable to defend[1]

This similarly nominal church of Sardis, was warned to strengthen what remains and is about to die[2]

So eventually this third too leave their offspring worse off that they were, sure the history of the church in Britain boasts at least of one major revival in wales and surely many others of less historical significance, but most can agree that the proportion of the pews occupied during Sunday service has slowly been reduced since.

Now

What happens when the people of God vacate their holy space is that thorns and nettle [3] take over, the awe inspiring nature of these places now contain the mundane replacement of cafes and such. I live in Bristol, a place that once boasted of impressive cathedral and chapel architecture, much of which has now been converted for other uses. Worst of this is the use of a church in Islington, North London as an Atheist Church also known as the Sunday assembly [3].

This Atheistic materialism in action is best observed in pop culture in the Comedy series, ‘Big Bang Theory’ in the form of its most popular character – Sheldon Cooper, a young, two phd holding nerd, who is grossly socially inept and is the epitome of a life lived out in total adherence to the materialistic version of what used to be known as ‘science’. This is the humanist generation, to whom we insist humans themselves are the problem of humanity at heart – in our hearts calloused, darkened as they are.

All of this though is no surprise if attention is paid to the beginning of the story, due diligence to the divine drama unfolded in genesis.

Right after the blissful opening scenes of; a divine fiat, creation, the first marriage and ‘Be fruitful’ mandate, Comes the voice of the tempter, death, polygamy and a gangster rap verse

The Future

The Christian philosophy of history is teleological, as opposed to the pointlessness of Greek and Atheistic thought. The end for which God created the world is pleasure and enjoyment of/in him – Christ. A God not bound by time but existing outside of it, though the actors choose to read from their own made up scripts; this director will get the ending he has written for us in the book revelation.

The direction it is however heading, if you are a Christian depends on where you place the millennial reign of Christ in Revelation 20. What you make of Revelation determines whether you think all is going wrong and will continue to do so until Christ returns or there is plenty of room for all out optimism and the preaching of the gospel will prevail with Britain being filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea[5].

What the church has made of revelation through the ages can be broadly divided between Post-millennialism with their optimism, A-millennialism for a pessimistic view of a future persecuted church and then there is pre-millennialism of which I have personally ruled out the dispensational, pre-tribulational kind as portrayed by ‘Left Behind’ movies starring Kirk Cameron and Nicholas Cage (the latter movie to be released in 2014 based on the book series of the same name). This view is excellently parodied by the brilliant N.D Wilson & Mr Sock in a book titled Right Behind – A parody of last days goofiness[6] .

The arguments of this view simply does not hold together for several reasons.

1. It proposes two second comings of Christ.

2. A mid tribulational snatch-up of Christians or rapture cannot be found anywhere in the scriptures. Adherents point to Revelation 4:1’s ‘come up here’ as evidence.

3. Its view of the church as a complete replacement of national Israel. it’s over the top enthusiasm for her misinterprets Revelation 7:9.

4. Its chronological view of the sequence of events in revelation in indefensible.

Notes and References

1. A prevailing Religious system of professed Christians, in the higher and middle classes in this country, contrasted with real Christianity – William Wilberforce, Esq. T. Cadell, in the Strand 1830 – pg 6.

2. Revelation 3:2 – ESV.

3. See Hosea 9:6 & 10:8 – ESV.

4. See the BBC News Magazine Article: What happens at an atheist church? – by brian wheeler @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21319945

5. Habakkuk 2:14 – ESV.

6. Nathan D. Wilson, Right Behind : A parody of Last Days Goofiness. Canon press.

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