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The Reformation also had a view about governance as well as the significance of the individual, which was to prove important for the future. The theme of natural rights was taken up by the Dominicans on the Continent in the context of defending the freedom and the possessions of the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas. From there, it influenced prominent thinkers of the moderate Enlightenment in this country, such as John Locke, who were attempting to rethink a Christian basis for society. This was also the context for the Evangelical revival in the 18th century. While the Evangelicals drew inspiration from the Bible for their humanitarian projects, such as the abolition of slavery, universal education and humane conditions of work for men, women and children, the Enlightenment provided them with the intellectual tools and the moral vision of natural rights so that they could argue their case in the public sphere. It was this Evangelical-Enlightenment consensus which brought about the huge social changes of the 19th and early 20th centuries and which came under sustained attack in the second half of the 20th century.

Sociologists of religion have been telling us that the process of secularisation has been a very long one and, indeed, they locate its origin precisely in the Enlightenment’s rejection of heteronomous authority and its affirmation of autonomy. Historians, on the other hand, point out that faith flourished in industrial Britain in the 19th century and in the first part of the last century. Indeed, it is possible to say that it continued to prosper well into the 1950s. Was it long-term decline, then, or sudden demise? In fact, there are elements of truth in both approaches. It seems to be the case, however, that something momentous happened in the 1960s which has materially altered the scene: Christ­ianity began to be more and more marginal to the “public doctrine” by which the nation ordered itself, and this state of affairs has continued to the present day.

Many reasons have been given for this situation. Callum Brown has argued that it was the cultural revolution of the 1960s which brought Christianity’s role in society to an abrupt and catastrophic end. He notes, particularly, the part played by women in upholding piety and in passing on the faith in the home. It was the loss of this faith and piety among women which caused the steep decline in Christian observance in all sections of society. Peter Mullen and others, similarly, have traced the situation to the student unrest of the 1960s which they claim was inspired by Marxism of one sort or another. The aim was to overturn what I have called the Evangelical-Enlightenment consensus so that revolution might be possible. One of the ingredients in their tactics was to encourage a social and sexual revolution so that a political one would, in due course, come about. Mullen points out that instead of the Churches resisting this phenomenon, liberal theologians and Church leaders all but capitulated to the intellectual and cultural forces of the time.

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DR J
January 14th, 2009
2:01 AM
"Imagine there's no heaven, and no religions, too..." John was an excellent songwriter and a poor sociologist. Remove the spiritual underpinnings of a society and you do not remove the need for spirituality. Crap and Islamofascism will fill the void.

D. Thornton
October 2nd, 2008
7:10 PM
Kentun8 - I have also heard the bishop speaking, & am extremely impressed by his grasp of what is happening in this country. As for the Anglican church's "constant adjustment to secular values" - that is its nemesis: it is becoming secularised & will eventually have no purpose for existing.

zodiaclove
September 30th, 2008
11:09 AM
hola I can't agree with what you said really.... please ellaberate a bit more for me ;D thank you

kentun8
July 13th, 2008
11:07 PM
To go back to the article... does anyone really know what the bishop was saying? He proposed "a rigorous investigation into the origins of nationhood", to show, I think, that Christian values moulded those that are essentially British. But his grasp of historical development is not just fuzzy but absent altogether. To cite one secular example, there was no consensus between Evangelicalism and the Enlightenment, the former arose in protest against the latter's diminishment of faith and Biblical belief. In his own backyard of church governance, the founding documents of Anglicanism, - the preface to the 1662 Prayer Book and the Thirty-Nine Articles - reflect the pervasive influence of secular values such as political tolerance, individual rights (mostly founded on property), and respect for personal conscience on the life of the church, rather than the other way round. And a phrase "The Westphalian consensus is dead" suggests that he does not even know what the Treaties of Westphalia were concerned with - the right of an outside force to interfere across national frontiers to right what it perceives as a moral wrong; if the concept of nationhood that grew ut of those treaties is really dead, why are we tying ourselves in knots about conditions inside Zimbabwe's borders, as we did over Bosnia, Kosovo, etc? I know the bishop is the media's conservative darling, but he is not the real article. He has no sense of the abiding values of the Anglican church, its tolerance, its constant adjustment to secular values, and its continuous self-criticism. As one of the bishop's flock, I have listened intently and repeatedly to his sermons, and I know him personally to be a kind and charming man, but I have never known him present an intelligent, clearly argued statement of what he actually believes.Or more alarmingly still, what he actually knows.

RacFos19
July 3rd, 2008
1:07 AM
When I was young I attended Church every Sunday with my family and was ridiculed for doing so by the neighbourhood children. As I grew up and learnt more about religion and the world in general: new discoveries, technologies and ideologies I too turned away from God. How in an age of reason could a person believe in and worship children's stories and fairy tales? And then I continued to grow up and discovered that although one didn't necessarily have to believe in the supernatural aspects of God one could believe in his teachings. Being a good and moral person how could one scorn the teachings of the bible? I was happy to discover that a man born some two hundred years ago thought along the same lines that I was thinking, I am of course referring to Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of America, who took a pair of scissors to the Bible and cut out the supernatural aspects and repackaged it as "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth". However after looking at the long-term impacts that removing the Church and God from studies, as he perpetrated, and day to day life I realised that you can't have one without the other. Some think that I am quite childlike in my belief that man can and will be better. At one time politicians were of quite good moral stock, yes you could always find a bad apple in the barrel but generally speaking recent history has shown that those who democratically governed us did so with truth and honesty. I do not believe that it is childish or naive to think that that time will come again, and is, in fact, closer than we realise. Politicians today have a bad rap and in most cases quite deservedly, but the new generation of politicians will learn from their predecessors they will see that they cannot base their careers and campaigns on lies and deceit because it is getting harder and harder to fool the public, and so the new stock of politicians wont be the same mealy mouthed rats that we have grown so accustomed too. They will be of the most impeccable scruples, morals and decentness. To believe in God is not to believe in "sky Gods" to believe in the teachings of God is not to believe in "nonsense" it is to believe in the better nature of man and to believe that man can and will be better. God doesn't insist that you genuflect to him, or that you partake in costly rituals. He only asks that you love him and that you love your neighbour. God will forgive even the most destitute sinner if that sinner truly repents. God is merciful but only if the mercy is deserved, many people have the mistaken belief that if you say sorry for your sins that it gives you leave to sin again: because you can always say sorry again and God loves you and will forgive you. God does love you and he will always forgive you, but remember whatever God does to you he does because he loves you. If you are of the stock that sins, makes a false apology and then sins again, he will find a way of making you truly repent before opening the doors of Heaven to you.

Robert Callow
June 27th, 2008
5:06 AM
Miles, The bad news is that because of man's increasingly deceitful and proud state of mind, we are willfully killing ourselves at an increasingly alarming rate: The knowledge and power to completely destroy deluded mankind becomes increasingly more available to an increasing number of people who are growing increasingly more evil. The good news however, is that God has made known to us how to overcome this death culture and to look forward to His promised paradise where the infinite imagination of the Spirit of truth is the infinite realm of everything, where pure love's endless glory is perfect love's free and endless creation. Freedom is the freedom to choose.

Amy Jayne
June 26th, 2008
10:06 PM
This should not be about whose religion is "right" or "wrong". This should be about the ability of out nation's religions - and athiests - to co-exist without conflict or without the need to overshadow one-another. I am only 19 and yet I am greatly saddened by what I see has become of this once great country. Britain is weak and lacking in identity. This is nothing to do with how many Muslims we have, how many Christians we have or how many Hindus we have. It is to do with how many horrible, nasty excuses for human beings we have roaming our streets and running our country, and the rifts that they driving open between our many wonderful communities. The religious and non-religous alike should be uniting against these hatemongers, not each other.

Miles Sinclair
June 25th, 2008
7:06 AM
If christians want to believe in their god, then go ahead. BUT - if you are planning on "sharing" the good news that we all deserve death and eternal punishment - and that is what we will get if we don't believe what you believe, then expect a challenge. And it will be loud, and reasoned and equally passionate.

Richard Calhoun
June 12th, 2008
11:06 AM
The Churches only have themselves to blame, they have conspired with socialism since 1945 and abdicated their responsibility to the people to the 'Welfare State'

John Scott
June 11th, 2008
1:06 PM
The intellectual history outlined here is, frankly, so oversimplified as to be incredibly misleading (an obvious example, one cannot simply lead from the neo-Scholastics concerned with the Americas to John Locke: a hundred years and Northern European permutations are something of a gaping chasm). We are fortunate indeed that the current Archbishop of Canterbury is not given to making such intellectually dubious pronouncements.

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