Theo Hobson takes issue with Roger Scruton’s religion:
Is Roger Scruton a Christian? Based on his new book, Our Church: a Personal History of the Church of England, I am inclined to doubt it.
Has the publisher printed an upside-down cross on the front, or something?
He says that he is, and he goes to church – he even plays the organ there. His Tory traditionalist form of Anglicanism might not be my cup of God, but so what? We can surely agree to differ without trying to excommunicate each other.
And yet, his approach to Christianity is so far from mine that I am not sure we belong to the same religion at all.
Ah. Here’s the meat of the issue.
By so strongly identifying Christianity with one antiquated expression of it, he wilfully stands against the renewal of Christian culture.
You see, ‘Christian culture’ must change to make it more acceptable to the modern churchgoer, who dislikes all that judgemental stuff and talk of sin.
And as for that stuffy old language? Well! That just has to go!
How can Scruton really say this, and expect to be supported by the likes of Theo?
“To describe the new services as ‘alternatives’ to Cranmer is like describing EastEnders as an ‘alternative’ to Shakespeare, or Lady Gaga as an ‘alternative’ to Bach.”
Surely a church can update verbal forms that were devised hundreds of years ago? Surely it must do so, if it wants to stay alive? No, these old verbal forms are sacred: “The language of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible … forms, in my view … the real essence of [the English Church's] religion.”
No, no, a Jamaican patois version of the Bible is the ‘must have’ this Christmas – sorry, ‘Winterval’.
The point is that Scruton does not want the church to move on from the era of its national-cultural supremacy, to find a new way of being – even though this era is universally agreed to have more or less ended.
The past is dead, old men! The future – and the definition of religion – belongs to us cool young dudes! Clear the way!