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posted 13 Apr 2016, 23:34 by Bulletin Team   [ updated 18 Aug 2016, 16:59 by SysAdmin Lakes Parish ]
Why should I belong to the Church? Is it surely possible to be a good Christian without going to Church? These questions are often asked, and understandably so. In the modern world, after all, information is readily available; people can now get some kind of understanding of Christianity through general education, or from retrieval systems, in ways which were not available to those who lived in the highly localised circumstances of traditional society. There was also an entertainment element in the religion of the former world which the leisure revolution of our own day has obliterated forever. The emotional sustenance once provided by religion has modern substitutes, in the various aesthetic sensations derived from the arts and from popular music. The impulse of social service experienced by moralists, seemingly compulsively – once the monopoly of the Church – is not catered for by the secular medical and welfare industries: the hero of contemporary culture is not the priest in the slums but the doctor on the hospital ward. The spread and quality of education promotes the conviction that mature people can arrive at religious truth, should they feel the need, without any resort to the Church.


But it is illusory to suppose that the Church can be so easily dispensed with, and it anyway rests on an imperfect notion of what the Church actually is. We live on borrowed time. The information now available about Christianity is due to a large favourable balance laid up by the faithful in the past. If we do not add to it, or take active measures to preserve it, those who come after us will face spiritual destitution. The modern wealth of information, furthermore, is not as rich as it looks.


Technology and educational enterprise have provided the means of conveying ideas – they are the mechanics, no more. The ideas themselves, the concepts being conveyed, require constant study and adjustment; like living things they need to be nourished or they will languish. The Church is the body of Christ in the world, the means by which he is conveyed to each society and culture. The Church is not a holy club or a pleasant local dispensary of spiritual consolation, but the means of preserving and enriching the knowledge of God.

To be a Christian is to be part of Christ’s body; it is not a mere option for those who seek belief – it is an essential.

After the primary duty of personal salvation, comes the salvation of others and that unavoidably involves the corporate witness of the Church.

Communities of believers may show all the irritating characteristics of humanity; they may be given to all kinds of corruption and worldliness. Yet for the Christian to adhere to the Church is a duty, for it is to love Christ’s body, to be united to his everlasting presence.


Rev Dr. Edward Norman

(Norman was previously Chancellor of York Minster. He was formerly Dean of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and has been a Reith Lecturer. He was received into the Catholic Church at Our Lady of Walsingham, England, on October 7, 2012)