Sunday 29 April 2018

The Church of England's Evangelical Takeover

The Revd Angela Tilby, for whom I have a great liking and respect, prays in the Church Times for salvation from the Evangelical Takeover. I will say that I think this is misjudged.

Firstly one would think that evangelicals are a monolithic movement for this "takeover" to be going on. Whereas in fact they're a bigger bunch of splitters than the Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea. Put two evangelicals in a room and you'll get three opinions. There's a reason why there were twenty or so Methodist denominations in this country - sincerely held beliefs in disagreement. And a reason why there's now so few - decline. Evangelicals don't do detailed agreement.

Secondly because it's expressed as a communications issue. The world is looking for meaning, and how can it get it from people who have found something truly meaningful, appears to be the question.

Thirdly is a kind of combination of Firstly and Secondly. If the evangelicals are now taking over, but people already lack the spiritual framework to find meaning in life - then whose fault was that? Which movement was in charge of the Church of England, all those years when society was losing its spiritual vision? Because apparently it wasn't the evangelicals.  They're   only just taking over now. Anyone want to volunteer to take that blame?

 Fourthly, it wasn't evangelicals that invented tea lights and pebbles in Church. It was, for the most part, certain liberals who wanted the spiritual experience of the catholics and evangelicals, but without all that baggage of having to believe too much. Why   would an evangelical waste their time with cutting out cardboard flames when there's spiritual battles to  fight and Good News to share? Why, for  that matter, would a catholic waste their time lighting a tea light for beauty spiritual connection when there's 6 foot candles and God in organic form on the altar?

So an evangelical takeover of the C of E would  mean a believing, eager, Gospel -sharing presence in every part of England. Far more open than their brothers (and sisters) of the same description in the US (or even  other English churches). Maybe something looking like a  hope for the country. It won't happen of course. Not at Canterbury -speed. There's still churches in the Church of England that are basically pretending the Reformation didn't happen, after all.

 Give it  ten years. Then we'll have someone complaining the liberals have taken over again.

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