Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Anglicans Ponder Heresy Trials

Faced with diminishing adherence to its core beliefs, the Church of England is preparing to dust off the notion of heresy in order to restore conformity in its pulpits. According to a 2002 survey of Anglican, only "76 per cent of clergy believed Jesus Christ died to take away the sins of the world, 68 per cent believed Jesus rose physically from the dead and 53 per cent believed faith in Jesus was the only way they could be saved." Women responding to the survey generally indicated lesser agreement with each tenet.

"It is far, far worse if we have a clergyman or clergywoman in the pulpit and they are preaching heresy and do not believe in the tenets of the faith, the Virgin Birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ and all the other tenets of the faith," she said.

"What is faith if we do not preach Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ glorified? We will not get very far in winning souls for Christ, which is what we should be doing all the time.

"Let us make sure the liberals really do preach the word of God."

Peter LeRoy, of the diocese of Bath and Wells, reminded the laity of the usual definition of an Anglican as someone "who can believe anything they want as long as it is not too strongly".

He said heresy trials were essential to persuade clergy to endorse "sound teaching".

Though it is tempting to smile at such a medieval sounding notion as trying people for heresy, it does raise an interesting question: how does a religious organization - or any ideologically based institution - maintain adherence to core doctrine over time?


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