The Church

Heated discussion with — yesterday over the evening meal about religion. He is very critical, especially of the Catholic Church. The only religion he has any time for is Buddhism. He respects its non-dogmatic, pragmatic and inclusive approach. He cannot see how an ancient historical person can have any relevance for us today. This is a very interesting point. If the church is going to make any sort of impression on today’s young people it will not be by appealing to Jesus. (Declarations of faith in Jesus are more likely to produce a snigger than induce respect.) It will have to be because of the quality of the people who belong to it. The Church cannot rely on a general predisposition in people to accept the Gospels as revelation, nor acceptance  of its own self-declared authority, irrespective of the calibre of the people doing the declaring. When I suggested that if he were to read the Gospels with an open mind he would be profoundly impressed by the person of Christ. ‘No doubt,’ he said ‘but why bother.’ Which seems to indicate that the hunger for religious experience among the young is either a myth, or that no one believes that Christianity has anything to contribute in this respect, or both. The Church as an institution is now so discredited that a radical reformation is necessary. Fortunately the steady decline in numbers of an increasingly aging clergy is helping matters.

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