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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Occupy, St Paul's and why the church needs a radical reformation

Responding to the contortions of the Church of England, and the dominant media narrative that Occupy LSX is a "disaster" for the Church as a result of the troubles at St Paul's Cathedral, my good friend Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, has drawn attention to the theological and ecclesiological issues at stake. Simon observed that:
Actually, Occupy LSX has also presented an unprecedented (some would say God-given) opportunity for the established Church radically to reconsider its mission and message in a plural society. The church needs to seize the chance to move from failing attempts at top-down control based on historic patronage, towards dynamic engagement with those at the grassroots and on the margins of an unequal and uneasy social order.
The core Christian message is that, in Jesus Christ, God pitched a tent among human beings for the purposes of bringing about radical personal and social change based on love and justice. The 'vertical church' of Christendom, emblemized by the remote, patronising and hierarchical response of the St Paul's management to a flowering of creative protest, is no longer 'fit for purpose' in a post-Christendom situation.
By contrast, Occupy, with its energy and imagination, is modelling a different possibility for the church. The institutions of Christianity need to be remade from the edges inwards. They need to be turned inside out.

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