It was Friday night. I was looking for the Cardiff Blues game on the channels at the top end of the scale. And there it was; General Synod on the BBC Parliament Channel. I’d never seen it before. I was glued. I saw some familiar faces spread throughout the Church House debating chamber; Chris Hobbs (the St Thomas’ Oakwood one) had a natty crimson red v-neck sweater on. Even though supper was ready, Rosslyn couldn’t tear me away as I tried to follow a debate on various ammendments to a revisionist proposal concerning women and the episcopacy. In the end I just sat there in despair. This was the church that I belong to. And they don’t seem to like having people like me around! It prompted the question, ‘why bother with the Church of England?’
It’s one I revisit from time to time, especially given our precarious position on the edge of all things Church of England. This is Jonathan Fletcher’s answer. And it’s one I’m broadly happy with.
Jonathan’s case for remaining in the Church of England has four key components
1. Theologically the Church of England is, in Jonathan’s estimation, the best presentation of the Reformed Protestant faith. We see that in the Thirty Nine Articles and the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer. These are the foundation documents upon which the Church of England has been built. Theologically it’s home for reformed evangelicals.
2. Liturgically the principles that lie behind the content of Cranmer’s Services are thoroughly helpful in ministry. Though we may wish to update the language of the liturgy, the priority of ensuring that our meetings are biblical, accessible, congregational and edifying is right.
3. Historically God has used the Church of England to bring revival to this country. Jonathan acknowledges that the C of E is in bad shape at the present. But, as he reminds us (not from personal experience!) it’s been worse than this. Back in the 18th century. And God worked through it to bring the gospel to the nation.
4. Pastorally many people in this country look to the Church of England for the support they need to live for Christ. It’s perhaps especially the case that in Urban Priority Areas and rural settings people look to the Parish Church for spiritual encouragement. Jonathan is unwilling to leave sheep without a shepherd.
It’s a great little video. It’s only 5 minutes long. And it may be worth watching if, like me from time to time, you just want to jump ship altogether!