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Thursday, March 10, 2005

British Public Wants Churches To Cease Being ‘Silent’ And ‘Lukewarm’ In Face Of Moral Collapse

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

LONDON, ENGLAND (ANS) -- Current conventional wisdom in Britain says that with Christian moral values and legal protections under assault on all sides, the reason pews are emptying is that traditional religion is not relevant.

But, according to a story circulated by www.LifeSiteNews.com  a new survey of thousands of churchgoers in the United Kingdom says the opposite and indicates that the emptying of the churches has been caused mainly by preaching and pastoral care that has been emptied of moral or doctrinal Christian content.

The survey addressed questions about why church attendance was falling so dramatically in the UK but growing elsewhere, even though two-thirds of the British population believes in God.

The results of the year-long survey of 14,000 UK residents by the interdenominational Ecumenical Research Committee has been called 'surprising' by mainstream secular and Christian media.

The overwhelming response is to call on churches "to robustly defend moral values with conviction and courage and cease being 'silent' and 'lukewarm' in the face of moral and social collapse."

In an introduction, Lord Bromley Betchworth said: "Those who spoke, did so with one voice…an alarming indication that there are multitudes of people across Britain and Ireland who feel that their views are not being heard or represented."

The vast majority of the people in Britain and Ireland, he says, are still morally conservative. "They are appalled that moral values and treasured beliefs are being stood on their head and want churches to play a leading role in standing up for these things."

The survey itself asked four simple questions and avoided 'tick-box' responses in favor of written letters. The huge response was a surprise in itself and reflected a growing frustration and anger felt by many ordinary people about the direction of churches and society in general.

Responses displayed a widespread sense of frustration and anger at what was happening to the churches in Britain and Ireland.

Many gave variations on the response, "Why hasn’t a survey like this been done before, so we can speak?" "At last, someone is listening, thank you so much," and "Thank you for the chance to express our beliefs without fear."

Several 'traditionalist' Anglican clerics said that they had "to keep their own views to themselves in case their bishop, who held opposing beliefs, would remove them from their diocese."

Many Catholics in North America have written that a similar situation exists there in which the churches are controlled exclusively by bishops and lay administrators who brook no Christian opposition to their officially sanctioned left-liberal dissent from the faith.

Ninety-one percent of responses followed a uniform theme that the decline in traditional Christian moral and doctrinal teaching has caused the outflux of congregations.

They listed the lack of apologetics, the reasoned defense and explanation of Christian doctrine, as one of the main reasons for the collapse. "It’s a myth today that the people of this country have rejected Christianity; they simply haven’t been told enough about it to either accept or reject it," wrote one respondent.

Thousands of letters also cited the lack of emphasis on the holiness of God and the need for personal moral conversion. The desire for teaching on holiness, was prevalent and has been influenced, said the authors, by Mel Gibson’s film, the Passion of the Christ. Many responded that the churches now teach easy forgiveness; an attitude that 'God loves me anyway,' and that there is no need to attend church or live a morally demanding Christian life.

The overwhelming majority of respondents were vehemently opposed to ordaining homosexuals and blamed the churches for the rise in pedophilia scandals because of the prevalence of homosexuals in the clergy.

Some celibate homosexuals wrote saying that the prevalence of support for homosexuality in the churches is undermining their efforts to live chastely.

One young man wrote, "For sections of the Church to suddenly say that my struggle (to remain chaste)…was for nothing and that it would have been OK to have given in, would be to deny my personal cross for Christ and mock the faithfulness I have shown Him."

Two-thousand letters asked for a return to traditional liturgy and pointed out that attempts to attract younger people with jazzed-up offerings had failed and had alienated older parishioners. Over 450 said they drove vast distances to attend a traditional liturgical celebration. 1,500 letters complained that the modern liturgies "bordered on entertainment rather than worship."

The survey has supported what Christians themselves have been saying for decades, that there is little point in attending a church whose message is no different from that of the materialistic secular world.

Read the Survey at: http://www.plain-truth.org.uk/churchsurveyreport.pdf.  (PDF format, Adobe Acrobat required.)

** Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Garden Grove, CA. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in Sept., 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station.

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Rev Isaac Newton Johnson is an Indian Evangelist since 1976 working with non-Christian brothers in North India. He is international media missionary and Christian speaker. He has been invited by SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June-July, 2004 as Guest Speaker from India. He preached in Indian, Pakistani, Nepali and Korean brothers there. Five brothers and one sister of Indian origin accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and baptized during his ministry in South Korea. He has founded “Voice of Christians Evangelical Church” at Ludhiana, India in 1999 (A House Church) working among poorest of poor people, imparting education to them and sharing the good news of Lord Jesus Christ. (Pictured: Rev Isaac Newton Johnson being honored in SungKwang Presbyterian Church, Guri, Seoul, South Korea in June 2004). He needs committed prayer partners and Church ministry supporters around the world to proclaim the Gospel in India and to the end of the earth.

Rev Isaac preaches in English, Hindi, Panjabi and Urdu languages simultaneously without interpreter.

He can be contacted at: isaacnewtonjohnson@yahoo.co.in
Website: www.voiceofchristiansministries.org 

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