This started as a blog comment. Sybok left me this:
Interesting interview with Pakistani Church of England bishop about Anglicanism's future.
Thanks for this! Bishop Nazir-Ali is one of the Church of England's leading lights, an honest conservative Protestant.
VOL: On the global scene it is being said that Christianity, the world’s first global religion, will devolve over time into two forces – the Roman Catholic Church and Pentecostalism. Liberalism will die out having run its course. Do you think this is an accurate picture? If so, where will Anglicanism fit into this picture?I've met David Virtue; he lives in my area. An Anglican Evangelical (from New Zealand) who
NAZIR-ALI: I think that is true. I would also add a certain kind of conservative evangelicalism will survive - the Tim Kellers of this world. The mainline protestant denominations will do their Cheshire-cat act. What will survive may be an orthodox form of Anglicanism which is allied to Pentecostalism, conservative Anglicans or the Ordinariates. I can’t see mainline protestant denominations surviving. They will not be influential.
Pentecostalism does not have a global voice but it is bringing about transformation on the ground. Sociologist David Martin, perhaps the greatest living British sociologist of religion, says that when people are converted they change personally, in the family and at work. A new cycle of virtue brings about socio-economic change. In Latin America Pentecostalism is doing what Liberation Theology failed to do.
VOL: Do you have any misgivings about Pentecostalism?
NAZIR-ALI: Within the Christian world, my fear about Pentecostalism is that there can be a lack of biblical depth.
I understand that "development of doctrine" isn't part of our doctrine but it makes sense; no problem because the church's doctrine is irreformable; it can't be changed by a Pope or a vote.
Newman was a great man; too conservative for the Anglicans, who were built on sand and who started losing their faith at the "Enlightenment," but too "liberal" for his brother Catholics (ultamontanism isn't the same as the teachings of the church). Still, he got the cardinal's hat: he was truly of the church.
Many of us from "across the pond" believe he (Nazir-Ali) should have been the next Archbishop of Canterbury following in the footsteps of George Carey, but it was not to be. A scurrilous secular press did him in and Dr. Rowan Williams, an Affirming Catholic, took the helm."Affirming Catholic" is what I call liberal high church. Dr. Williams used to be an Anglo-Catholic but switched on women's ordination and is on board with gay marriage; still, more liturgically conservative, more learned, and more orthodox than Katharine Jefferts Schori.
Most English people don't go to church anymore; it's like the elite in America's Northeast but even more skeptical (agnostic, not our wimpy "spiritual, not religious"). I think the few churchgoers are Polish guest workers going to Mass outnumbering the remaining English Evangelicals at some C of E parishes. The Anglican membership roll still outnumbers the Catholic one (20 and 10%, respectively) but practicing Catholics in terms of Sunday attendance outnumber practicing Anglicans.
I understand that in the years between Catholic emancipation and the Sixties, English Catholic churchmen being honest would say they didn't want to see the C of E just go away and be replaced by unbelief or hostility to religion, as Newman wrote once. "We can't replace it": Catholics didn't have the numbers and resources to. Better to make the best of an infrastructure that was at least Christian and even still resembled the church more than most other Protestants did.