‘Church of England must ditch ‘relevance’ to thrive’: Bishop of Maidstone

The Church of England (CofE) should remain faithful to the Bible even if it means risking its civic and institutional involvement, the Bishop of Maidstone has said.

Writing for Anglican Ink, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas warned the CofE that to adopt the liberal agenda on human sexuality would be “a fundamental breach with historic Christian teaching”.

Bishop Thomas also stated that the CofE has to recognise that “God’s Word is not always popular”.

Salt and light

Risking its status in society, he argued, is necessary if the Church is to stick to Jesus’ teaching on remaining as salt and light in the world.

“Unless we are clear about how God views human sinful behaviour, then however much that message is resented, there will never be a full appreciation of the glorious message of salvation”.

“Christian faith tends to thrive when it is distinct from the prevailing culture”.


“A Christianity that merely recycles the norms and values of the prevailing culture renders itself irrelevant and subservient,” he wrote.

He added that remaining ‘relevant’ and “catching up with the trends in wider society” are constantly touted as ways in which growth can be stimulated, but suggested such approaches are “superficial”, and will inevitably fail.

Bishop Thomas was writing in response to research that showed churches with theologically conservative beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible grew much faster than those with a liberal theology.

Growing churches

The study, Theology Matters, surveyed 2,225 churchgoers and clergy in Ontario, Canada.

David Haskell, the study’s lead researcher, said that growing churches “held more firmly to the traditional beliefs of Christianity”.

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