William Temple and the Threshold of Faith

The average church member’s timidity in articulating their faith outside the church walls should be one of the greatest concerns of Western church leaders of the early 21st century church.\r\n\r\nToo dramatic?\r\n\r\nWell, not in the context of the decline of the established church in the west. Some notable observers of these things reckon that the church as we know it today will not exist in England for many more years.\r\n\r\nThe pressure felt by the average Christian to be more articulate is a product of multiple factors, not least of which is the fear of being ‘found out’ to be intellectually weak. But here are three simple ways we could start to remedy the situation.\r\n


  • first, we could rely less on the didactic presentation of ‘truth’ from the pulpit as the sole means of developing theological thinking, as generally it doesn’t. Instead, increase the quantity and quality of conversation around theological themes among ordinary parishioners.
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  • second, as this conversation grows, encourage people of faith to recognise that those of us within the church are not as far apart as we presume from those outside, who may also wish to join the conversation.
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  • and third, we should realise that good quality conversation on theology, like good conversation in general, doesn’t rely on formulas or ‘magic bullets’ to score points. Rather, by its nature good conversation is an open minded way of finding an approach to the ‘threshold of faith’, as William Temple put it.
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\r\nMore fully the Archbishop says: \r\n\r\n“remember that [there are] many ways of approach [to faith] and that all the ways of approach lead us only to the threshold; for religious faith does not consist in supposing that there is a God; it consists in personal trust in God rising to personal fellowship with God”.\r\n\r\nAnd we do that, says the Archbishop, “by going to school not with the philosophers but with the saints

2 thoughts on “William Temple and the Threshold of Faith”

  1. Yup. Go with the saints. Our biggest steps often come when we see the faith (the way forward, glimpses of the “more” that we hear that God wants to give to us, etc) modelled in someone else. Very few of us are likely to break new ground in relation to God. We generally follow where others have gone before…..

  2. Returning to start of article…. Not too dramatic no. Perhaps the root of this is that very few people have had an experience of God which has significantly changed their lives, Nor are they likely to do with most of the church rescue programmes currently being rolled out. They are relying on human ideas rather than the foolishness of the gospel and the power of God.

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