The question of disestablishment is not new. It has been around for the best part of 150 years and is revived from time to time by various pressure groups. This time, assuming collegiality, it would appear that the House of Bishops is joining Tony Benn and Norman Tebbit.
The occasion for this renewed pressure is the publication of the tape of the alleged conversation of the Prince of Wales, and the difficulty that would create for any Christian church worth its name. Obviously, disestablishment is much the easier option than seeking to deal with such a prominent personage on such a delicate matter. However, in my opinion that is the precise pastoral role that the House of Bishops should assume, as their God-given responsibility.
The deeper and underlying problem is the nature of our society today. Without doubt, the Church of England has lost confidence in the message of 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified' because through Higher Criticism it has largely lost confidence in the authority of the Bible. The Church of England has retreated in to a mainly social gospel instead of tackling the basic spiritual problems of the nation which are being manifested in the violent crime wave reported daily in our newspapers.
Disestablishment will send a signal that this country has thrown off the last trappings of Christianity, but there will be a price to pay in increasing lawlessness at every level. Whether the monarchy can survive if it reneges on its covenant is another moot point. Disestablishment is an easy option
but easy options are rarely
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