Truro plan for 30 second theology….

I was recently sent a plan in embryo for the reorganisation of a deanery in Truro diocese. As I read, gape mouthed, at the plan to close 50% of the churches, radically reduce clergy, and remove swathes of parochial church councils one item staggered me even more. It was then I became further depressed as one further aim was outlined – members of the congregations would be changed from volunteers to disciples and taught how to answer the question “why are you a Christian” in 30 seconds!

I am not an advocate of trickle down economics but it certainly seems we have trickle down simplistic theology from our senior clergy. It was only in December that Adrian Alker, Chair of PCN Britain wrote to the Church Times in response to Stephen Hance, National Lead on Evangelism and Discipleship, for the Church of England, following his assertion that people think Church members are embarrassed about God talk.

Adrian said that indeed, “many of us are embarrassed at the unintelligent, at times infantile and dogmatically emasculated way in which most senior clergy in the main conduct their theological discourse. The masculine sky God who sends a Son to earth to redeem sinful humanity by a blood sacrifice is alive and well in the liturgies and pronouncements of the churches.”

Adrian continued, “there are millions of people whose experiences of life would raise far more complex questions about the existence and nature of a Creator God, who welcome exploring spirituality in the widest sense and across all faith traditions. Until the Church of England is prepared once again to engage with doubts and questions in a way which invites honesty as did Bishop Robinson all those years ago, 'confidence and boldness' will not even scratch the surface of people's lives.”

A 30 second justification of faith hardly does justice to the complex questions and spiritual seeking of people. A “30 second theology” approach can only flow from the senior clergy adopting the “unintelligent, at times infantile and dogmatically emasculated ……theological discourse”.

We have sadly come quite a distance from the days of John Robinson and of Michael Ramsey and John Habgood. I recall Michael Ramsey giving a visiting lecture at Lincoln Theological College and somehow doubt he would have viewed a 30 second discourse on matters of faith with favour.

Peter Bellenes


Frank Dobbs

Why am I a Christian - because I love God and I love my neighbour as myself, following the example of Jesus

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