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The evidence suggests that many inherited religious institutions are in crisis. But the real impulse of faith is in movements not monuments.
In Britain today the Christian denominations are losing money, people and impact. We now live in a multi-conviction society marked by secularity in public life and the presence of many belief systems. The days of a ‘one size fits all’ solution, whether by imposing one belief system or by suppressing beliefs, are gone.
When traditional institutions struggle or fail, fanatics can flourish. That is the danger. But there is also a huge opportunity for those pushed aside by the prevailing culture of selfishness in both religion and society.
Ekklesia argues that this is a time for Christians to re-express the subversive core of the Gospel message – one of equality, peace and justice. Christianity started as a levelling movement hounded by overbearing states and overbearing religion. It needs to relocate itself alongside those at the margins, rather than trying to grab back top-down power for its own institutions. Self-aggrandizement is spiritual death. The future is neighbourly love, no matter how difficult.
Today's churches may be losing privilege, but they have an opportunity to combine 'inherited' and 'emergent' features in a new and more liberating way – one that is faithful to the past as well as fit for the present and open to the future.