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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Haydar Husayn

2% of Anglican Priests don't believe in God

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As a prerequisite for the job of being a Church of England priest, it would seem not unreasonable to expect a belief in God to be fairly essential.

But this is not the case, according to a poll of Anglican clergy which found that as many as 16 per cent are unclear about God and two per cent think it is no more than a human construct.

It is 30 years since David Jenkins, then the Bishop of Durham, caused controversy by casting doubt on the resurrection, but it appears that such unorthodox views are widespread amongst Britain’s priests.

In addition to those who describe God as a human creation, the YouGov poll found that three per cent believe there is some sort of spirit or life force and 9 per cent argue it is impossible to imagine what God is like.

Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with  only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/survey-finds-2-of-anglican-priests-are-not-believers-9821899.html

Back in 2002, it was reported that huge numbers of the Anglican clergy didn't believe in core Christian doctrines, although the numbers may be inflated due to inaccurate reporting of the raw data. Members were asked to rank how they rated their level of belief on a 1-5 scale. It could be that anyone who didn't say they were convinced of something was classed as doubting it. It's also possible that things have changed since then. Nevertheless, it still seems a little concerning:

Quote

A third of Church of England clergy doubt or disbelieve in the physical Resurrection and only half are convinced of the truth of the Virgin birth, according to a new survey.
The poll of nearly 2,000 of the Church's 10,000 clergy also found that only half believe that faith in Christ is the only route to salvation.
While it has long been known that numerous clerics are dubious about the historic creeds of the Church, the survey is the first to disclose how widespread is the scepticism.
Few bishops would now share the views of the former Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev David Jenkins, who caused a scandal in the 1980s when he contrasted the Resurrection with a "conjuring trick with bones".
Nevertheless liberal clergy, who represent about one in eight of the total, remain profoundly uncertain about the Church's core doctrines. In the survey, two thirds of them expressed doubts in the physical Resurrection and three quarters are unconvinced by the Virgin birth.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1403106/One-third-of-clergy-do-not-believe-in-the-Resurrection.html

No wonder they have collapsed on issues such as 'gay marriage'. If I was a Bible-believing Anglican, I think I'd be looking for another Church.

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There have been some recent fairly high-profile instances of ministers in various churches declaring they didn't believe in God. For example:

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Just one year after Reverend Gretta Vosper was ordained by the United Church of Canada, taking a vow that God was the "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," she stopped believing altogether.

[...]

One Sunday in 2001, she stood up in front of her congregation, as usual. But instead of a normal sermon, she declared that she no longer believed in God. "Something came over me, and I took God apart," she recalled. "I said I didn't believe in an interventionist God, not a God that was a Being, I didn't believe in Supernatural powers, or Heaven or Hell...My understanding of God is more about relationships with oneself, the others, and the planet."

Much to her surprise, neither the congregation nor the church board were bothered by this. Many even confessed that they, too, had their doubts. And so they carried on, without God.

But now, the church's top brass say they've received too many complaints about Vosper and have launched an unprecedented investigation to determine whether she's fit to keep her job. Vosper is appealing the church's general secretary decree issued in May that lays out a plan to kick her out — also known as "defrocking." Both sides have lawyered up for an ecclesiastical court hearing slated for September.

It's a surprising turn of events, especially since the United Church is known for its progressive views about who can join the fold and who can lead — it was one of the first to welcome women and LGBTQ folks to the cloth. Vosper says she's going to fight to keep her job in the church not only because she loves the community, but also to stand up for her many colleagues she says also don't believe, but are too scared to admit it openly.

 

https://news.vice.com/article/this-christian-minister-doesnt-believe-in-god-and-shes-not-the-only-one

What a world, when it is surprising that a Church would wish to remove a minister who openly disbelieves in God! People should take note of the fact that it is considered surprising due to the Church's 'progressive' views. When you start hearing about 'progressive' Muslim organisations and mosques, you will know where this will ultimately lead.

I haven't quoted the whole article, but I would encourage people to read it all, as it is certainly worth reading in its entirety.

 

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Before, it was indecent for men to be declared gay, and most were hidden, but nowadays, it's normal, and is something to be proud of according to some people. My question goes as follows, on this up and down world we are going through, will we find ourselves condemned to have a religion at all? Like, will the time take us to a place where religion is a curse?

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Salam,

This is interesting, and it means that the Anglican church allows debate from within their ranks and doubt. One of my favorite Christian figures is Bishop Desmond Tutu who used to be an Anglican bishop, and he challenges all types of orthodoxies within traditional Christianity on maters like homosexuality, sexism, and sex . If Orthodox Christians truly believe in their ideas on God, Jesus and the different precepts of Christianity debate and questioning will only reinforce their truth  and not demolish their religion. 

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17 hours ago, Last Hope said:

Before, it was indecent for men to be declared gay, and most were hidden, but nowadays, it's normal, and is something to be proud of according to some people. My question goes as follows, on this up and down world we are going through, will we find ourselves condemned to have a religion at all? Like, will the time take us to a place where religion is a curse?

Upside down apparently means different from 1400 years ago. After all, human kind has done a lot progress since then when it comes to human rights, and understanding that we humans are created very different. When Islam Christianity and Judaism were founded, our forefathers lived in societies very different from ours. We should have this in mind when we read in NT that Paul commands women to keep quiet in church. He was a man influenced by his society, just like the rest of us. Laws and customs change. God understands. 

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1 hour ago, Sawa said:

and the different precepts of Christianity debate and questioning will only reinforce their truth  and not demolish their religion

Well, there is questioning and there is questioning. 

If you start to question immaculate conception, as some Christians do, for example, I don't see how that reinforces truth.

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25 minutes ago, magma said:

That's crazy...

There is so much division in Christian sects and almost no cohesion or way to stay or connect all of them together this will naturally be the result.

Also Churches that are more liberal tend to decline in their attendance:

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-12-49-06

Source: https://bloggingtheology.net/2016/09/24/20879/

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^ There is plenty to define orthodox Christianity. Basic beliefs are the same. That is why you can have ecumenical events. Some fundamentalist churches do not like to hang out with the rest of us, conservative or liberal. They don't even like each other.

Their problem.

@Haji 2003 You are right, but since the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic doctrine only officially promulgated since the 1800's, well after the Reformation, it isn't a giant issue for the other churches. I doubt many of their followers even know about or  understand it.

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30 minutes ago, LeftCoastMom said:

 

@Haji 2003 You are right, but since the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic doctrine only officially promulgated since the 1800's, well after the Reformation, it isn't a giant issue for the other churches. I doubt many of their followers even know about or  understand it.

 

Oops, sorry my mistake. I double checked, I was referring Mary's virginal pregnancy and the debates around that.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/16/religion.commentisfree

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1 hour ago, LeftCoastMom said:

I also was going to say only 2% of Anglicans?

Must have been some reconversions lately....lol.

Yeah, I have to admit I would have thought it would be higher. But maybe they prefer to class themselves as agnostic instead.

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13 hours ago, Sawa said:

Salam,

This is interesting, and it means that the Anglican church allows debate from within their ranks and doubt. One of my favorite Christian figures is Bishop Desmond Tutu who used to be an Anglican bishop, and he challenges all types of orthodoxies within traditional Christianity on maters like homosexuality, sexism, and sex . If Orthodox Christians truly believe in their ideas on God, Jesus and the different precepts of Christianity debate and questioning will only reinforce their truth  and not demolish their religion. 

Debate is one thing, apostasy is another. As for challenging 'all types of orthodoxies', I don't see what is so admirable about that when the way you challenge them is to simply tell people to ignore what the Bible says about those issues. I have plenty of respect for those who challenge man-made traditions within their religion from an intellectually coherent perspective, but any idiot can just pick and choose what they want to believe in.

I can say that I don't like Islam's position on sex, gender relations, homosexuality, slaughter of animals, and that instead we need to 'get with the times', and 'reflect the society around us', so we should move past what the Qur'an and hadith say, and progress to a more enlightened position. Does that make me a great reformer? No, it makes me an idiot who should be intellectually consistent and leave a religion that I clearly have major issues with.

I don't get these people that want to call themselves Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but then want to ignore what their scriptures say about various things. Isn't the whole point of belonging to those religions that you believe that God has spoken, and communicated to us? If you don't believe that, then why not just be a theist or a deist? Or is it that they believe that God has spoken, but listening is optional?

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37 minutes ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Debate is one thing, apostasy is another. As for challenging 'all types of orthodoxies', I don't see what is so admirable about that when the way you challenge them is to simply tell people to ignore what the Bible says about those issues. I have plenty of respect for those who challenge man-made traditions within their religion from an intellectually coherent perspective, but any idiot can just pick and choose what they want to believe in.

I can say that I don't like Islam's position on sex, gender relations, homosexuality, slaughter of animals, and that instead we need to 'get with the times', and 'reflect the society around us', so we should move past what the Qur'an and hadith say, and progress to a more enlightened position. Does that make me a great reformer? No, it makes me an idiot who should be intellectually consistent and leave a religion that I clearly have major issues with.

I don't get these people that want to call themselves Christians, Jews, and Muslims, but then want to ignore what their scriptures say about various things. Isn't the whole point of belonging to those religions that you believe that God has spoken, and communicated to us? If you don't believe that, then why not just be a theist or a deist? Or is it that they believe that God has spoken, but listening is optional?

What are you trying to say? That some who are skeptical about islam's supposed or even actual position on certain issues are no better or in fact worse than non believers because they are not intellectually consistent?  I highly doubt major islamic theologians and scholars would agree with you, or suggest that it would be better for all such people to leave the religion entirely.  Even in the category you described, there is a hell of a lot of variation.  Intellectual consistency across the board is extremely rare anyways.

Edited by King

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Yes, theologians debate. It's one of the reasons for having them. 

Scripture can be researched and interpreted in different ways. 

Sometimes theologians come to different conclusions and ideas are debated.

I know of a couple of pastors that lost their faith in other denominations, but they didn't stay on as pastors. Left of their own accord. Honest at least.

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1 hour ago, King said:

What are you trying to say? That some who are skeptical about islam's supposed position on certain issues are no better or in fact worse than non believers because they are not intellectually consistent?  I highly doubt major islamic theologians and scholars would agree with you, or suggest that it would be better to leave the religion entirely.

I believe he was trying to say Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. Beleive me, it's not limited to Islam. The problem is usually in finding a supported conclusion. The more unrest caused by the inquiry, the more likely the conclusion has man made roots. It does not make one better or worse to seek validity. God encourages this, churches do not. 

Yes, if you have major issues with a religion, get out. Do yourself a favour and take God with you.

 

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3 hours ago, Son of Placid said:

I believe he was trying to say Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. Beleive me, it's not limited to Islam. The problem is usually in finding a supported conclusion. The more unrest caused by the inquiry, the more likely the conclusion has man made roots. It does not make one better or worse to seek validity. God encourages this, churches do not. 

Yes, if you have major issues with a religion, get out. Do yourself a favour and take God with you.

Where do you draw the line? How do you define these lines? I know first hand of quite a few people who had serious doubts or even disagreements but upon going on hajj/ziyarat for example experienced a transformation and are now devout followers. Perhaps this isn't intellectually honest enough for some, but it is sincere nonetheless. I think it is dangerous to dictate or tell others where to go in this respect, unless god himself explicitly commands his followers to deal with such people in this way.

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1 hour ago, Haji 2003 said:

Am I right in saying that 'doubts' are cherished in Christianity, whereas they are considered really bad in Islam?

Doubting Thomas was allowed to be skeptical and was made a Saint. 

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7 hours ago, King said:

What are you trying to say? That some who are skeptical about islam's supposed or even actual position on certain issues are no better or in fact worse than non believers because they are not intellectually consistent?  I highly doubt major islamic theologians and scholars would agree with you, or suggest that it would be better for all such people to leave the religion entirely.  Even in the category you described, there is a hell of a lot of variation.  Intellectual consistency across the board is extremely rare anyways.

Surely you know there is a difference between being skeptical, or having doubts, and coming out and openly saying that something that you know is firmly established in your religion is wrong. And the reason it is wrong is because it doesn't conform with the society around you. If your ultimate arbiter has now become whatever morality your society happens to have at that point in time, then why bother pretending to believe in a religion that claims to contain universal truths?

My point isn't that everyone who is being inconsistent or having doubts should leave the religion. However, when their views clearly contradict the very basis of the religion, you have to wonder why they still want to remain part of it.

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13 hours ago, Haji 2003 said:

Am I right in saying that 'doubts' are cherished in Christianity, whereas they are considered really bad in Islam?

Not really. Doubts may indeed lead to inquiry which leads to greater faith, but that's not to be confused with research and debate. In general, I think the Church would rather you don't doubt at least the basics of your faith. 

Edited by LeftCoastMom

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12 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Surely you know there is a difference between being skeptical, or having doubts, and coming out and openly saying that something that you know is firmly established in your religion is wrong. And the reason it is wrong is because it doesn't conform with the society around you. If your ultimate arbiter has now become whatever morality your society happens to have at that point in time, then why bother pretending to believe in a religion that claims to contain universal truths?

My point isn't that everyone who is being inconsistent or having doubts should leave the religion. However, when their views clearly contradict the very basis of the religion, you have to wonder why they still want to remain part of it.

You have to decide what the " universal truths" are.

My Church was once the supreme authority and arbiter of what went on in society.

We put people in jail for saying the earth went around the sun.

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On 9/26/2016 at 0:37 AM, King said:

Where do you draw the line? How do you define these lines? I know first hand of quite a few people who had serious doubts or even disagreements but upon going on hajj/ziyarat for example experienced a transformation and are now devout followers. Perhaps this isn't intellectually honest enough for some, but it is sincere nonetheless. I think it is dangerous to dictate or tell others where to go in this respect, unless god himself explicitly commands his followers to deal with such people in this way.

My line was drawn for me. I grew into a church, and joined the leadership program in the youth group. They knew through discussions that I didn't quite believe as they did and I couldn't join the church as such when I turned 18, and I couldn't continue to lead the youth if my beliefs were contrary to the only truth, that of which only they preached. I was actually told I was going to the wrong church. They should have taught me what to believe instead of how to study.

My trouble was with predestination. The idea that it is decided you are or are not worthy of heaven before the earth was made. The idea that a conversion is a free ticket to heaven, just a few forgiveness prayers and appear to live a good life. The conceptual free will. The coathanger smiles of those pretending to be predestined. 

I understand the sincerity. I understand the transformation, and I understand the struggle. Some people are seriously seeking God, and these man made details keep getting in the way. 

On 9/26/2016 at 1:18 PM, LeftCoastMom said:

You have to decide what the " universal truths" are

Truth

Our "universal truths" may differ. One reason is we are quite territorial as opposed to "universal". Demographics play a big part in what you need to know, or what you need to do. What we need to learn is to recognize "God" when He is near, and when He is not. To acknowledge His presence in our daily lives and realize the path we are on...and how to fix it. Religion is secondary. 

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