The Guardian UK (online) is in the midst of a series entitled, “What is the future for Anglican conservatives?”
Here is the introductory two paragraphs:
Has the long Anglican civil war ended in defeat for both sides? Within the church, the liberals have been outmanoeuvred and may be excluded from the communion’s decision-making bodies. But the cost of this has been to establish the conservatives as anti-gay, and in the wider culture that is a great defeat for them, too. So will they abandon that fight, and move to others? Will attitudes to Islam be the next great struggle within Christianity?
The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, returned last week to devote himself to the care of persecuted Christians; and it is Muslims, he thinks, who are doing the persecuting. In countries like Pakistan, this is clearly true. But will conservative Christians be able to construct a narrative against Islam in Europe and America? Should they be trying to do so? Does it really threaten the future of Christianity?
Monday’s Article by Savitri Hensman: “It is all too easy to project evil on to another group…”
Wednesday’s Article by Julian Mann: “We must rise to the challenge posed by Islam, as the church teaches…”
Just a couple comments about the last question in the second paragraph above – If we only envision Christianity as being comprised of institutions, then perhaps there can be threats to “the future of Christianity.” This, however, is an improper way of understanding Christianity or the Church even as far too many Christians fall prey to the concept. The Church’s institutions exist to help people come into a relationship with God and to help in their discipleship. Of course these things can happen without the institutions, too, but the Church as institution provides a means for the common practice of the Faith. Institutions may be challenged or destroyed, but the Faith cannot be.
Additionally, Christians that have to fight against Islam on a religious plain (as opposed to a political or social plain where we find Jihad and societal Islamic Law) have already lost. If we have to implement laws to protect Christianity because Islam is bringing in more converts and those converts are more devoted to their faith, then those who advocate the need for Christianity’s protection against the Islamic faith have already failed. They already live a form of the Christian faith that is so deficient that it no longer captures the imaginations of non-Christians. The lives of Christians in this kind of situation no longer bear witness to an authentic Life in Christ, so why would anyone give a listen to what we have to say? Why would anyone be drawn to the faith of this kind? Why would the Church in this situation have legitimacy? If our only answer to Islam is to pass civil laws against it, then we do not bear the image of God – the imago Dei.
Insecurity and fear to this degree demonstrate a real misunderstanding of God’s Ways and God’s willingness or ability to cause the Church to stand. It is placing in Christian faith within a framework that suggests only institutions, and not the practice of a faith in the living God through Jesus Christ.
hat tip to: Simple Massing Priest