Anglicans have a new tactic for drawing people back into the faith: learning from the pagans.
A news article written by the Telegraph on the topic made me feel as though the Church was trying to parody the move made by the Catholic Church two millenia ago in stealing from Pagan traditions and culture, claiming them as their own, and then destroying the original spiritual significance and heritage of those practices. According to the article, “He [Reverend Steve Hollinghurst] said it would be ‘almost to create a pagan church where Christianity was very much in the centre.’ The Church Mission Society, which is training ministers to “break new ground”, hopes to see a number of spiritual people align themselves with Christianity,” which smacked strongly of a disrespect of Paganism as a valid spiritual path. A link to the article may be found below:
Why is Christianity the end-all answer, I ask? However, the article left many questions regarding the details of the movement to create a pseudo-Pagan church, and I continued to research into the issue.
I then came across a response to the Telegraph’s article on Rev. Steve Hollinghurst’s personal blog, found here:
After sorting through the numerous capitalization errors, I came to the conclusion that the piece written by the Telegraph was not entirely accurate, and in fact highly misleading. First, the movement isn’t a policy of the Church of England, but rather a few Anglicans who believe in engaging “with non church spirituality” and work alongside an independent organization called Fresh Expressions that works to serve those outside of the existing, traditional churches. For more information about Fresh Expressions, click below:
I also managed to obtain more details about the movement that I found lacking in the original article. Below, I will highlight the main points. First, on how an “almost Pagan, yet Christian-centered would appear and function, Rev. Steve writes:
i was asked whether that would look like a traditional Anglican church – i suggested not, and offered as an example the Forest churches that several groups have set up and how they would meet outdoors, might have a circle or a fire chanting and prayers and things that were very Celtic in style.
On ways the new church would take inspiration from Paganism, such as a recognition of the Divine Feminine:
i do think that Paganism has much to say and offer to the world today and much that Christians can adopt – for instance whilst Christianity isn’t polytheistic, the Trinity does include the divine feminine as well as the divine masculine and those, including Pagans, who have criticized an apparently male lone christian deity are right to do so, and we as Christians need to acknowledge that and recover out own tradition of the divine feminine.
And on taking inspiration from Earth-based religions in issues of the environment:
similarly Pagans have often put Christians to shame when it comes to the environment when St Paul time and again talks of Jesus not saving people from the world but wanting to set the whole of creation free from suffering – we need to recover this ecological vision.
In theory, not a bad idea. It’s something many modern Christian churches are already doing. I myself, as well as many Filyanis, Pagans and other non-Christians, disagree on a fundamental basis with core Christian doctrines, but I believe the movement is a refreshing take on Christianity that will benefit those people who are frustrated with the traditional church but still align themselves ideologically with Christianity.