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Salvation In No Other Name?


By David W. Virtue

Posted by David Virtue on 2008/6/3 9:00:00 (615 reads)


"A little child shall lead them"...well almost. He's a theology student from Winchester whose his name is Paul Eddy. He plans a career in the Church of England priesthood. What he has done is enter a Private Member's Motion at the next General Synod that is embarrassing the miters off liberal bishops.

The text of his motion says this, "'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."'

Many in the church have roundly denounced Mr. Eddy's motion. According to reports in the Daily Mail newspaper, liberal bishops have attempted to dissuade Members from signing the motion. Nevertheless, the motion is now set and the General Synod will effectively vote on whether the Church of England should seek to evangelize Muslims.

Eddy believes that the active recruitment of non-believers and adherents of other faiths has always been a Biblical injunction on Christians, commanded by Christ himself. He also claims that many bishops are downplaying the missionary role of the Church and that official documents often gloss over the requirement to convert Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or followers of other religions.

He warns that the central role of Christianity in Britain is being eroded, and that by "allowing the rise of another religion in our country, all that Britain stands for is up for grabs."

One bishop, who is supporting Mr. Eddy, is the increasingly vocal and verbal Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali. In response to Mr. Eddy's motion, the Bishop argued that the Church of England has failed in its responsibility to "welcome people of other faiths." He suggested that the church had "gone too far" in responding to the sensitivities of British Muslims.

He also said, "Our nation is rooted in the Christian faith and that is the basis of welcoming people of other faiths. You cannot have an honest conversation on the basis of fudge."

Just months ago, the bishop drew criticism for his warning that certain sectors of British cities have become "no-go areas" where Muslims intimidate others from entering. The Telegraph [London] reported that Bishop Nazir-Ali's statements met with fierce opposition from the Rt. Rev Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme and the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith, who said,: "Both the Bishop of Rochester's reported comments and the synod private members' motion show no sensitivity to the need for good inter-faith relations. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another's paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities."

There you have it. This bishop denudes the gospel of its missionary content and purpose. It is one of the many reasons the Church of England is in decline with no apparent sign of turning around any time soon.

The current fight over women priests demanding access to the episcopacy is yet another sign of the church's decline into pluralist thinking, but its loss of gospel nerve is at the heart of the church's inertia and irrelevancy. The more the church tries to make a false peace with its neighbors, the more it turns the Book of Acts on its head, the more insignificant the church becomes. Islam will take over within 30 years recent prognosticators say. In that case the Church of England will have no one to blame but itself.

The David of Winchester will shortly face the Goliath of General Synod. We know how the original story ended. How will this one end? It might take more than five smooth stones, but if this one resolution puts the C of E back on the path of an evangelical renaissance badly needed in England, then it will have been worth it just to embarrass the liberals and show them up for what they really are - empty and vacuous spiritual vessels.


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