Archbishop of Canterbury laments ‘moral claptrap’ in sermons

The Archbishop of Canterbury says some sermons he has heard amounted to “moral claptrap” about being nicer to each other.

Preaching at an evensong service in New York in January, Archbishop Welby said Jesus’ life “challenges every assumption” about society.

“He does not permit us to accept a society in which the weak are excluded – whether because of race, wealth, gender, ability, or sexuality.

“Nor did he permit us and does he permit us to turn religion into morality.

“The old sermons that we have heard so often in England, which I grew up with, which if you boiled them down all they effectively said was: ‘Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if we were all a bit nicer?’

“That is the kind of moral claptrap that Jesus does not permit us to accept.”

He told the congregation “we are to get involved, we are to get our hands dirty”.

But too often churches had just “circled the wagons in order to keep the enemy out”.

Archbishop Welby also cautioned against Christians making the “mistake of identification with the world as all there is”.

This is “a mistake we often make today in the way we speak and live”.

Speaking about deprivation and inequality, he detailed his experiences in Liverpool, where he served as Dean of the Anglican cathedral for four years, insisting it was imperative for churches to be involved in their communities.

Archbishop Welby added that Christians are to be “caught up in a revolution of expectation and of implementation”.

“Were it not for the fact that [Jesus] is in title Prince of Peace, and lived out his mission in service and foot-washing, ending it in crucifixion and resurrection, this would be a call to violent revolution; but even that option is removed from our hands by the way in which he lived his life and calling.”

The Archbishop was visiting New York to speak at the “’Creating the Common Good” conference organised by the Trinity Institute.


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