Dave's Deliberations

Random jottings from David Matthew, a Christian teacher and writer whose main website is www.davidmatthew.org.uk

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Location: Castleford, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Married since 1962 to Faith. We have three wonderful children and three equally wonderful grandchildren.

October 18, 2004

Tatty Umbrella

'Our worst faults,' one sage observed, 'are the ones we are either blind to or proud of.' The first we can excuse; the second, never. Yet here is where the Church of England is most at fault: it is for ever trumpeting its inclusivness as if it were a virtue, when it is in fact a boil on its ecclesiastical backside.

Anglican inclusiveness, far from being something to boast of, is a cause for shame. It makes the C of E like a pub where the barman offers—alongside the beers, wines and spirits—bleach and turpentine. If the toxic offerings are questioned he replies that the historic bar must remain inclusive. And so we find elbowing each other, under the Anglican umbrella, incense-swinging anglo-catholics, Bible-believing evangelicals and resurrection-doubting liberals. I see no virtue whatever in trying to keep them together for they have little, if anything, in common, except the label 'Anglican'.

The issue has re-surfaced, of course, over the ordination of practising homosexuals. Horrified Anglicans who hold to the C of E's scriptural basis mutter about a breakaway to maintain the church's integrity, while from under the same umbrella others lobby for an allegedly Christlike inclusiveness that forbids us to 'judge our gay brothers'. Meanwhile, a white-knuckled Archbishop of Canterbury grips the brolly's handle and tries to placate all parties with waffle.

But unified the church is not. To pretend otherwise is to invite scorn. And any claim that inclusiveness is Christlike is nonsense. Jesus didn't go running after the Rich Young Ruler to bring him back with, 'I'm sorry I was so judgmental. Please come and head up the church's Greedy Rich department.' Sure, he welcomed sinners, but his word to them was, 'Go and sin no more.' The C of E should not be welcoming practising gays into its clergy, it should be expelling them from its pews.

In every generation the church has had to choose between unity and truth—and up to now truth has generally come out on top. When a corrupt Catholic Church proved unwilling to embrace the truth recovered by Luther and Calvin, unity was rightly ditched in the birth of the Reformed churches. When one of these, the C of E, showed itself too inflexible to cater for Wesley's converts, unity once again gave way to truth and Methodism was born. In the East, by contrast, unity has won the day. The Orthodox Church, smug about its unbroken unity, continues to persecute Christians of any other ilk and to suppress the truth, both doctrinal and practical, revealed to later generations.

The choice between unity and truth remains. Before Christ's return we should expect to see the church achieve both, but for now, it's time the Church of England stopped its charade of unity. Let it split. Maybe those from its ranks who honour God's Word will then be able to maintain a credible testimony.

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