Rolling away the Paradigms

Much has been made this Easter – as every Easter – of the rolling away of the stone as symbolising our hopes for resurrection and renewal of the church.

I’ve been doing a bit of it myself. Regular readers will remember my suggestion that we tend to ‘overdose on friendliness and accessibility’. Nobody would ever suggest that the church should strive to be unfriendly. But I think it risks making us bland in an age where post-modern people seek spirituality, mystery and a cutting edge. At our Chrism Mass on Thursday, I suggested to our clergy that we need to practise disbelonging if we are to be effective leaders. Nobody would suggest that clergy should not strive to be warm and compassionate pastors who are close to their people. But we also need space from which it is possible to challenge the church to mission.

I was quietly reading the Irish Times today while enjoying a pint of the black stuff in Arnold’s Hotel. It was good to find that Irish church leaders are beginning to stake out the kind of debate which I yearn to see in Scotland.

I am sure that there are many brave voices in the Irish Catholic Church. But the one that I hear is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin. He said that the Catholic Church ‘has to be restructured and de-structured to allow it to witness to the sense of meaning and purpose that Jesus brings to the lives of believers’

My friend, Archbishop Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, said that the church ‘has become over anxious about its orthodoxy (correct teaching) as opposed to its orthopraxy (correct doing) in the face of those who be their best for God and to do their best for their neighbour within their strengths and their limitations’

Their is a common agenda here. I’ve done my bit in the past for a post-nationalist Ireland. I do my bit at present for a post-colonial Anglican Communion. We need to move towards a post-institutional church.


  1. ‘A post-institutional church’. Yes, provided we can also remain the visible church, structured to the extent that is necessary, but primarily an open, welcoming and serving community.

    1. No I wasn’t intending that we should disappear! There are many different sets of language – and I was playing with the post-this and also that. Might have been better to say that we would leave behind the institutional church based on membership and become the community of faith which is based on discipleship.

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