The Fellowship of Life
The Church of the Future
by The Rev. Ronald Adkins, M.A.
"The extension of the moral law to animals, so as to secure for them legal protection against cruelty, including all types of blood sports."
This would seem to be one of the aims of the Christian Church but, in fact, it does not come from the Church but from the National Secular Society. This is one of the objects of that society and so we have the contradictory position that those who reject belief in God have a great sense of compassion for our friends, the animals, while the Christian Church which claims to follow a God of Love seems to have no concern for them.
This is one illustration of the fact that "progressives" are leaving the Churches behind in working out the future standards of life.
The Churches will therefore have to discard many outdated dogmas and come into line with modern thought or else they will lose even the small authority still left to them.
Let me quote another of the aims of the National Secular Society - "The promotion of peace between nations, the substitution of arbitration for war in the settlement of international disputes, and the countering of militaristic propaganda, leading to the recognition that modern war is futile and can only bring about the ultimate destruction of civilisation."
"Modern War is futile" - it could not be put more clearly but why aren't the Churches saying this?
"To err is human, to forgive divine." So wrote Pope more than two hundred years ago. Yet the Church still doesn't seem today to have realised the truth of those words.
Many people make a mistake in the choice of their first marriage partners and yet the Church says that they must abide all their lives by their mistake and must never have, through divorce, the chance of a second marriage - a marriage which might give them untold happiness.
This is so contrary to the idea of a religion of love that, in fact, a strange compromise has been worked out. In the Church of England, if a clergyman thinks fit, he can take a "service of blessing" for the couple after they have been married in a registry office.
That is, the couple, after the registry office ceremony, can go to the Church and be blessed by the clergyman.
What a complete hypocrisy! No wonder the Church is losing ground.
Either the marriage is right, in which case, there is no reason for the registry office ceremony - the couple can - and should - be married in Church - or the marriage is wrong in which case it is also wrong to ask for God's blessing on it.
"Heaven itself descends in love." So wrote Byron and, according to the Christian belief, Heaven came down at Christmas in the birth of Jesus Christ. How then is this "love" celebrated?
By the massacre of millions of birds and animals for the Christmas "festivities."
The Christian Church has not lifted a finger against this barbarous custom. It has been left to vegetarians to point the way to a sane and healthy way of living.
The Church of the present is dying but there is hope - great hope - for a Church of the Future. It will be a World Church embracing the principles of all the great World Faiths, it will be a Church of Compassion for all people and for all living creatures.
It will be the New Church for the New Age without dogma or creed.
No longer will a Shylock be able to cry out, "O father Abraham! What these Christians are, Whose own hard dealing teaches them suspect the thoughts of others."
No longer then will it be true to say with Swift that "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."
Instead - and I will end with the great words of Burke - it will be recognised that "There is but one law for all, namely, the law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity - the law of Nature and of Nations."
From the October/December 1973 edition of World Forum
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