Thursday, February 12, 2009

Onwards and upwards in veneration of Charles Darwin

Paul Eddy asked the Church of England to affirm the uniqueness of Christ and the need to evangelise..... Cranmer reports that they've decided to do it. The General Synod: "the Church of England has a mandate to proselytise; to convert all non-believers. Eschewing all the multicultural and multi-faith political correctness of pluralism, they reiterated the uniqueness of Christ and the imperative of preaching the gospel to all – even Jews and Muslims, whatever the offence."

I asume that also means Anglicans are free to evangelise Darwinians, whose founder is 200 today - impressive evolution. (ht: Reynolds). That said, the 'Great Myth' would survive if Darwin never existed, as Buddhism can handle if Buddha never was, but Christianity holds itself hostage to the existence in history of Christ. It's the achiles heel and the greatest strength of Christianity - it's not about a person but about what God has done in history. Dropping in at another FREE Week at yesterday that note sounded again as Robin Sydserf hosted a lunchtime talk for thoughtful Plymouth students.

As humanity proclaims its heroes and strives onwards and upwards the attainment of David Beckham is still not enough to make England win.


  1. Things are never quite that simple in Anglicanism....they passed a motion (see here) to ask the bishops to report what they understand to mean by the uniqueness of Christ and how that looks as they reach out to the world. I'm perhaps a bit too free-church but it seems to me that this is the first (good) step rather than the finished article and now it depends on what the bishops come back with. Is that right? - I'm happy to be corrected by a good CofE-er who understands the mysteries of the Synod. Not sure Cranmer isn't implicitly anticipating the end result (which I pray is as he predicts).

  2. It's tragically amusing to watch the Anglicans ponder the things that should never be up for discussion...

    ...ah the freedom of the free churches.

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  4. Morning Dave. Hope Plymouth was good. Shame didn't get to spend more time together.

    I'm astonished that the CofE is so naive in its language. Especially in our postmodern context where differences between religions are regarded as fundamentally superficial, ‘Proselytism’ conveys a kind of assault, and the very word, ‘convert’ increasingly conjures images of the kind of religious radicalism that demands conformity and brooks no rivals.

    1) the call for "conversion" - without the holy spirit and people genuinely persuaded that Jesus lived, died, rose and can be trusted as lord - is manipulative.

    2) the call for "proselytism" - the NT clearly distinguishes between religious proselytism and Christian conversion. When referring to converts to Judaism, it always uses "proseluton" (Mt 23:15, Ac 2:11, Ac 6:5, Ac 13:45), a word it never uses for converts to Christ (Ac 15:3, Ro 16:5, 1 Co 16:15, 1 Tim 3:6) – and Jesus' words about the former couldn’t have been further from his insistence on the latter:

    “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel across sea & land to make a single proselyte (proseluton), and…make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (Mt 23:15)

    “unless you are converted (strapete)…you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3)

    So I don't take this as a good sign either way.

  5. Are Anglican signs ever good?
    I agree the language might not be helpful - kinda depends what's being meant by it I guess.

    Plymouth was good, shame not to have longer to talk - come to Exeter again sometime!

  6. "Are Anglican signs ever good?"

    Providing we distinguish 'anglican' from 'C of E' then yes.

    'It's tragically amusing to watch the Anglicans ponder the things that should never be up for discussion...'

    Exactly! How bad have things got when it would become a major victory for a synod to make this kind of declaration? If it weren't so appalling it would be amusing.

    '...ah the freedom of the free churches.'

    Now now, smugness never got anyone anywhere. URC? Baptist Union? The downgrade controversy in Spurgeon's day (not a good test case for denominations where there isn't a decent doctrinal basis!)? ;)

  7. Interesting comment Chris. Not sure that the CofE itself has used the naive language though (see here for content).

    Also, lets not be too proud of our denominations here. With Pete when I think of the largest free churches in this country the URC, Baptist Union, and the Methodists come to mind.

  8. thanks DaveK - I like that John Halton fellow. I wrongly took the quote above ("cranmer"'s summary) as an quote from the synod. Don't know this "cranmer" chap, but I'd still warn against that naive use of language. We're not about proselytism, nor conversion in the sense most people think. Stirring up offense for offense's sake doesn't help anyone.

  9. It's probably not the best term, but then Penn Jilette likes it... I guess for these Anglicans its enough to establish that anyone should be hearing about Christ, but integral to that is to go for it in the best way. Let's not stir up offence, lets engage people, warmly, encouragingly, persuasively...

  10. I think if we're going to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves we need to be very careful with the language we use.

    I don't know about 'proselytism' and 'convert', but 'Darwinist' is just a really awful term to use. It conveys something (that the person follows Darwin) that I don't think is actually true of those who believe the scientific theory of evolution (such people needn't have heard of Darwin, and anyway the theory has moved on from what Darwin originally proposed).

    Apart from the term being objectively inaccurate, the point is all it really achieves is annoying the hearer. As an Evangelical Christian who works in evolutionary biology I find it annoying, so I can't even begin to imagine how much more annoying the term would be to someone not predisposed to giving the benefit of the doubt to Christians trying to communicate with them.

    It seems to create an unnecessary barrier by generating unnecessary heat, and if we do that - is it really wise or gentle?

  11. Rob - very wise.

    While we're on the subject, Christian is troublesome, but "non-Christian" is even worse.

  12. What is the problem with Christian and non-Christian?

  13. Christian not so bad, but somehow I find it strange when a speaker says something like "if you're a non-Christian"... partly because hardly anyone would self-identify as being a non-christian...

    I dunno.

  14. I think the context is important. For example "evolutionist" would be a technically correct term for many people (such as myself), but many people might find (even that language) annoying and so it's best avoided - but in a closed context such as among Christians (who might not be 'evolutionists') it would be reasonable lingo I think.

    Non-Christian is similar to me. It's fine when discussed amongst other Christians, but I generally wouldn't use it as a term among '[un|non]believers'.

  15. I think at an evangelistic talk "If you're a non-Christian" is generally OK as people that are at such talks are at least slightly predisposed towards such a speaker. Saying "If you're not a Christian" is probably a better way of communicating the same thing though.

  16. "Not a Christian" is so much better, just more respectful.

    Words matter.

  17. "Convert" and "proselytise" have all the trappings of cultural imperialism, horrible words! I'm so thankful I'm not an Anglican!!!