“In the end, the outcome of this debate may, more than anything else, determine the future viability of the Church of England.” So sayeth Albert Mohler.
Paul Eddy, a lay theology student from Winchester, wants to know more than if the Church of England has the courage of its convictions. He wants to know if it has any convictions to be courageous about.
Let’s set the scene a bit. A report in the Telegraph shows just how much has been ceded to Muslims in the UK :
A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a “hate crime” and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that “no-go areas” for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities, as the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, claimed in The Sunday Telegraph this year.
Christians have essentially relinquished these areas to Islam. What Paul Eddy, the theology student from Winchester, wants to know is whether the fear of preaching to Muslims is just your run of the mill cowardice or is it because the Church of England no longer believes that salvation comes through Christ alone. What Eddy has done in order to get an answer to his question has made the leaders of the CofE quite choleric.
By gathering signatures, Eddy has placed a motion to the General Synod requiring an up or down vote. The simple motion reads:
‘That this Synod request the House of Bishops to report to the Synod on their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in Britain’s multi-faith society, and offer examples and commendations of good practice in sharing the gospel of salvation through Christ alone with people of other faiths and of none.’
Now you wouldn’t think that the leaders of a Christian church should have any trouble signing onto such a motion. But Eddy and the motion have been roundly denounced by many of the more progressive leaders in the Church.
Albert Mohler outlines the choice:
Bishop Lowe sets the issue clearly. He denies that the church should share the Gospel with persons of other faiths, but should instead “respect one another’s paths to God.”
This is precisely the theological compromise that motivated Paul Eddy to bring his motion in the first place. Mr. Eddy told the BBC that the Church of England has “lost its nerve” and was “not doing what the Bible says” in terms of evangelism.
His motion explicitly affirms “the uniqueness of Christ” and “the gospel of salvation through Christ alone,” and for this reason the church will be forced to face a defining issue for the integrity of the Gospel and the church.
If Bishop Lowe’s theology wins the day, as evidence suggests is already happening, the Church of England will forfeit any claim to the Gospel. The New Testament leaves absolutely no room for other “paths to God,” nor for allowing “respect” to preclude evangelism.
The Church of England is not the only church or denomination that has “lost its nerve” when it comes to the Gospel, nor is it the only church to face this test, but it will set its future course in July even if the vote on Mr. Eddy’s motion is the only vote taken.
Will the Church of England find the courage of its conviction or be convicted by their lack of courage? Time will tell.