Archbishop questions Christendom
The Archbishop of Canterbury has questioned the idea of Christendom where the Christian faith is more a matter of culture and tradition than conviction.
Saying that members of the Western Church exhibit boredom, greed and indifference Dr Rowan William suggests that too many people are ìhereditaryî Christians who have inherited their belief from their forebears as if it were ìsomething obviousî.
Western Christians must recapture a sense of joy and wonder in the nature of God and to learn from countries where faith is newer and more vibrant to recapture the ìexpectant joy of Christî, he says.
His comments, reported in The Times, are made in the first issue of a quarterly journal, Rethinking Mission, published jointly by the Methodist Church and USPG, a mission agency of the Anglican Church in Britain and Ireland working in more than 50 countries.
ìInheriting Christian belief as if it were something obvious is one recipe for losing the edge of surprise and shock about being wanted,î he writes.
According to the Archbishop the Northern Church has ìgone coldî on its sense of mission.
Holy Communion is more than ìa lump of divine stuff that we can take home and keep in a cupboardî. He urges the Church to learn from the Orthodox Church, which describes the Eucharist as ìlife, light and fireî.
Dr Williams says that Christians in the South or developing world, where mission agencies such as USPG have traditionally been most active, experience a joy and surprise at being ìwantedî by God that is lacking in the Northern or Western Church.
ìPart of the history of the Church, not just in these islands but of the Church in many other parts of the world, is the creeping sense that it is not at all surprising that God should want us. God after all has excellent taste! Why should God not want us?î
When the sense of being astonished by God has fallen away, he continues, ìwe look at one another with boredom and anxiety rather than with the expectant joy of Christî.
ìAnd we look, of course, at the world around us with boredom, greed, indifference, exploitation or whatever, and we donít look at it first and foremost as the Earth God wanted.î