Church of England challenged to stop watering down the Christian faith
By Michael Ireland
5/28/08 United Kingdom (ANS) – The Church of England is divided over a proposed motion urging it to proclaim Christianity as the only way to salvation and offer strategies on how to evangelize Muslims.
According to a report by Ethan Cole for the Christian Post, citing the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), senior church leaders as well as some Muslim figures have voiced anger at the motion proposed by Paul Eddy – a lay member of the church’s General Synod. Eddy, along with traditionalist Anglicans, argues that the Church should stop avoiding hard questions about its beliefs.
The Church of England must make it clear that it believes in what the Bible says about Jesus being the only way to salvation, he said. Currently training to become a priest, Eddy believes that being upfront about the Church’s beliefs will be helpful to Muslim-Christian relations.
“Most Muslims that I’ve talked to say, ‘I really wish that Christians would stop watering down their faith and expecting us to do the same,’” Eddy said on BBC Radio Four on Sunday. “Until we start really saying what we really believe in our faith, there will be no respect.”
Eddy went on to note that Muslims expect Christians to believe that Jesus is the only way to God.
“They will expect us – if we’re true Christians – to try to evangelize them, in the same way they will expect us, if they’re true Muslims, to adopt their faith,” he said.
But the problem is that the Church, in an effort to be inclusive and to avoid offending people of other faiths, has “lost its nerve” and is “not doing what the Bible says,” he claims.
“Both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths,” Eddy pointed out. “For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He urges Anglican bishops to give Church members advice on how to evangelize, and how to better support Muslims who have converted to Christianity and who are now ostracized by their communities.
The proposal is expected to be discussed at the General Synod summer meeting, being held from July 4 through 8 in York , England .
In its original report, the BBC said that Eddy, a traditionalist Anglican, has said he will continue with a campaign for the Church of England to work explicitly to convert Muslims to Christianity.
According to the BBC, Eddy is a lay member of the General Synod who has come under intense pressure from bishops to withdraw his plan.
But he has secured enough support for his motion to be debated at the next meeting of the Church’s ruling body.
The motion calls on the Church to proclaim Christianity as the only route to ultimate salvation.
Eddy, who is training to become a priest, has been denounced by some Muslims, but says the Church can no longer avoid hard questions about its beliefs. He said he had received angry e-mails and telephone calls from senior figures in the Church denouncing his motion.
Eddy claims to have the backing of at least 124 members of the synod, including the Bishops of Rochester , Carlisle and Chester .
Speaking to the Sunday program on BBC Radio Four, he said that in an effort to be inclusive and inoffensive, the church had “lost its nerve” and was “not doing what the Bible says.”
“Both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths,” he said. “For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The BBC days Eddy claimed that 20 percent of parishes contained populations in which 60 percent of people were not Christian. And he said that without a concerted effort, the church was in danger of creating “no-go areas for the gospel.”
“Most Muslims that I’ve talked to say, ‘I really wish that Christians would stop watering down their faith and expecting us to do the same.’
“Until we start really saying what we really believe in our faith, there will be no respect. Actually, to present to a Muslim that we believe Jesus is the only way to God, they’ll say, ‘We know that’.
“They will expect us — if we’re true Christians — to try to evangelize them, in the same way they will expect us, if they’re true Muslims, to adopt their faith.”
Eddy called for a code of good practice to be drawn up by bishops to give church members advice on how to evangelize. It should also give advice, he said, on how to support Muslims who choose to convert and are then ostracized by their communities.
BBC News religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says Eddy’s stance is likely to alienate many Muslims at a highly-sensitive time in the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the UK .
The BBC correspondent added that the motion is a sign of the conservative evangelical wing of the Church flexing its muscles to oppose what it warns is a watering down of Christian values in deference especially to Muslims.