About Modern Church

Modern Church is the main advocate for liberal theology in the British churches.

  • By ‘liberal theology’ we mean that religious beliefs can and should develop in the light of new insights.
  • Divine revelation has not come to an end. God invites us to believe in ways appropriate to 21st Century.
  • New ideas should be judged on their merits. They may be true today even if they have not been officially accepted by church leaders in the past.

An open, enquiring faith

We therefore promote open, honest searching for truth in a spirit of humility and respect. We welcome believers of any denomination or none with a faith willing to:

  • discover new insights
  • engage in dialogue with other traditions
  • contribute to, and learn from, the issues facing society today
  • challenge the churches to let go of outdated practices.

Engaging with churches

We often play an important part in church debates, leading the way to major changes. We are used to being dismissed as heretical or fringe Christians, only to be vindicated a few years later when our position is officially accepted. We are not a campaigning organisation but we often support campaigners with resources.

Current issues

Our origins

Previously called The Modern Churchpeople’s Union, Modern Church was founded at the end of the nineteenth century to defend an open, enquiring approach to religious faith against the fundamentalist movements in both evangelical and catholic wings of western Christianity.

At the time the sciences and biblical scholarship were advancing rapidly. While some believers felt threatened and took refuge in reason-defying dogmas, Modern Church argued that Christians have nothing to fear from new discoveries.

We began as a society within the Church of England but now have members and subscribers across the English-speaking world representing many denominations.

Our witness

  • From the outset we defended belief in evolution and critical scholarship of the Bible.
  • We have promoted the ordination of women since the 1920s.
  • We led the way in encouraging the churches to accept contraception and remarriage after divorce.
  • In the 1960s we worked for the abolition of capital punishment and the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
  • Currently we have been arguing for women bishops and for full acceptance of gay and lesbian partnerships. We were heavily involved in resisting the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Read more about liberal theology

Resources on Modern Church