Saturday 9 September 2017

Why the Church is Important - A Secular Argument

Most discussions on the importance of the Church, in my experience go like this. The Church is important because of God and the reply comes back that God doesn't exist so the Church is not important. The argument moves from this world to Theology and no mortal man can solve those issues, although he can certainly have an opinion. And in the muddle the basic question of the Churches importance is forgotten.

But the Church is an important component of the balanced society, the basic idea of which is that different centres of power exist within society. Today power resides around the Government and most things revolve around the Government. It is not that Government should not exist or that it should be powerless, certainly not. It has a rightful place, but if something has a rightful place that also means it has a wrongful place. Today the Government has it's claws in everything, there is hardly an area in which it is possible to escape the Government. But that was not always the case.

In the past the Church was an important area in which the Government did not have overriding power. Certainly it had power and influence but rarely was it overwhelming. Instead the Church was a counterweight, an area of life were the Government was not all powerful and that made the Church important by itself. In fact before the 1800's most social issues were not dealt with by Government at all.  Education was either a private concern or conducted by the Church, hospitals, asylums, orphanages were nearly always run by the Church, even in Protestant countries. Poor relief was often Government policy but still organised and run by the Church. Marriage and it's bad byproducts, divorce, legal separations and annulments were all Church issues. As was record keeping, the Church keep the Parish records that genealogists use today to trace their family trees.

The Church was not completely separate from Government but it kept many areas of administration away from Government, more importantly away from busy bodies. It also meant that the Church was not all theory, it had to be practical and frugal as it's money was not unlimited. It had to keep it's head out of the clouds and down to Earth.

The failure of the Church to keep control of it's own areas of responsibilities has had huge effect on all of us. It has given the Government power over areas of life it really has no business being in. It has encouraged busy bodies to change things for change sake. It has made the Church very airy fairy, with not enough experience in real life and it has placed too much important not on God, or people but on theology, on theory over practice. It is not that theology is unimportant, but that it has a rightful place in the Church and that place is not at the expense of life.

 Maybe it is time to start thinking about returning the Church to it's rightful place? Maybe the Church has drifted so far away from that that it would be dangerous to do so? But the the Church has a place in any Conservative future and we need to start thinking about what place it should occupy.

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