Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Is the liberal tide in the Church of England beginning to ebb?

In contrast to the bad natured meeting of July last year, this week’s General Synod of the Church of England has passed off not only peacefully, but also with a significant step forward for those who want to see the Church of England recover its confidence in the gospel. A motion (1) by lay member Paul Eddy affirming the uniqueness of Christ was agreed with 283 votes in favour and only 8 against.

Its significance was not lost on journalist Ruth Gledhill of the London Times who was quick to claim, under the headline ‘Anglicans called on to convert non-Christian believers’, that ‘The established Church of England put decades of liberal-inspired political correctness behind it in a move that led one bishop to condemn in anger the “evangelistic rants”. ‘

There was much resistance to this motion even coming to Synod, which is hardly surprising bearing in mind that in a 2002 poll of nearly 2,000 of the Church’s 10,000 clergy by Cost of Conscience, only half believed faith in Christ to be the only route to salvation. Paul Eddy himself in an interview shortly before the debate said ‘’there is good evidence to suggest that in many dioceses they [the diocesan bishops] say all faiths lead to God, therefore leave them [members of other faiths] alone.’

The success of the motion is all the more remarkable in that it goes against the grain of the general culture. Official attitudes to Christian witness in the UK are hardening and, to take one example of many, only today the London Daily Telegraph carries the story of a primary school receptionist now facing dismissal for seeking support from her church after her five-year-old daughter was reprimanded for talking about Jesus in class.

So are we seeing a turn of the tide? Only time will tell, but if such a process is indeed underway in the Church of England, sadly it will be inhibited by the influence of Archbishop Rowan Williams. It is not of course that he would oppose the idea of the uniqueness of Jesus, but that it would lose its force and clarity in the broad delta of Dr Williams’ mind. Read more
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