Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Haven't we been here before? Church of England gives up on evangelism

Winston Churchill once famously said, "I did not become His Majesty's First Minister so that I might oversee the liquidation of the British Empire!" Justin Welby, conversely, appears to be resigned to be the Archbishop who oversees the liquidation of Christianity in the British Isles. Underneath yet another unflattering portrait of His Grace in his oversized "dolphin" mitre is written the following lede by Ruth Gledhill:
The Church of England has admitted that the country has become a nation that knows almost nothing about Christianity and that there is no point any more attempting to convert anyone.
To read the entire article, you have to subscribe to The Times, which is a bit difficult if you don't have access to British currency. Ms. Gledhill was kind enough to e-mail me a copy of the whole piece but I will not reprint it here since that would be violating a trust. Suffice it to say it doesn't get any better as the article unfolds. Apparently, the Mother Church, or at least its beleaguered leadership, is chafing under the withering attacks of atheism and secular humanism.

It is hardly earthshaking news that the Church of England in its current state is not the most vibrant expression of the Christian faith in the twenty first century, but such a state of spiritual dullness is hardly unique to its history. There was nothing particularly vibrant about eighteenth century Anglicanism, either. It was in danger, so it seemed, of being eclipsed by deism and rationalism until a peculiar band of field preachers led by John Wesley, his brother Charles, and George Whitefield arrived on the scene. All they did was start proclaiming again a simple truth which much of England knew almost nothing about at the time: the message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The result was a spiritual awakening which not only spared England a fate similar to the disastrous French Revolution, but also crossed the Atlantic and ignited the fires of faith on the shores of America.

The Mother Church today is not likely to produce another Wesley or Whitefield. Such a person is more likely to emerge from the global Anglican diaspora. The awakening will come, however, in God's time and on God's terms. Whether it begins in a small parsonage in Epworth or a remote village in Kenya, you can rest assured it will find its way back to Canterbury, and the half-hearted elites who were so willing to accommodate a godless culture will be shamed either into repentance or obscurity.