The time has come to disestablish the Church of England. As a deeply partisan Prayer Book Anglican – a churchmanship naturally inclined to support the cause of antidisestablishmentarianism – I say that rather grudgingly. But it pains me to admit the established church and mother church of Anglicanism is no longer fit for purpose.
Atheists, militant secularists and those of non-Christian faiths have long supported my newly-held position, yet they often do so for other reasons, namely declining church attendance. They might claim that the Anglican expression of Christianity has little creditability as a state church if, practically speaking, nobody goes to services on a regular basis. And they might have a point. Other denominations could also make a credible claim as the national church, given that the Roman Catholic church draws more on a Sunday than the Church of England.
But regardless of this, the real reason for disestablishment is the church’s struggle to justify its existence in the modern age. This issue has become abundantly clear since Justin Welby assumed spiritual leadership of the Church of England and, by extension, the Anglican Communion, when he was enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury in 2013.
Just what is the Church of England’s reason for being? After all, the church is no longer fulfilling the Great Commission: the biblical command for Christians to propagate the faith and make disciples of Christ.
Earlier this year, Welby took the cultural Marxist line when he appeared to equate the church’s historic propagation of the gospel with the evils of colonialism. This is beyond ironic, given that colonialism is the only reason the Anglican Communion — defined by those churches in full communion with the archbishop of Canterbury — exists with 41 member churches outside the British Isles.
At the same time, I don’t hear His Grace decry the church’s ancient rights and immense privileges — seats in Parliament’s upper house for prelates, feudal titles, episcopal palaces, medieval cathedrals expropriated from Roman Catholics, for instance.