Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Elaine Storkey - Evangelical Unity

From Elaine Storkey, quoted on Ruth Gledhill's blog, comments by me.

'For me, this never started out as a battle between conservatives and open evangelicals. For me, this was trying to draw attention to the fact that we were unhappy with the style of management at Wycliffe Hall. But as time evolved, it started to feel more theological.

'I am alarmed at the way big walls between people and groups have started to emerge in the way they did not before. People had nuances and differences, but we all worked well together. From the Fulcrum point of view, it is not what we are wanting. We want to work with everybody rather than create a new camp.

Odd - my experience of Fulcrum is that it exists precisely to create a new camp and not work with conservative evangelicals. And the proposed court case seems to point in the same direction.

I agree with the alarm at big walls. Working together and avoiding infighting is much better.

'I am alarmed at the belligerence of the conservative camp, where they are seemingly going out of their way to make life as difficult as possible for the Archbishop of Canterbury. I cannot imagine what the reasons are. They are being destructive rather than constructive, finding something to argue about rather than working together to find a fruitful outcome.

'I am bewildered as to why anyone would want to spend their energy doing this when there is a world out there we should be speaking to of the love of God. And we should not just be speaking it, we should be living it, first of all, in the way we love one another, and also in the way we love them.

Once again, I can think of very very few conservative evangelicals who give their effort to fighting internal battles. Most of the ones I know are focusing on evangelism and discipleship within their churches and planting new churches, only really getting involved in politics when they feel it to be necessary - e.g. because they think the C of E is being unnecessarily unhelpful in stopping them from planting more churches. It is genuinely sad that given that there is infighting.

'What is the point of going out and trying to find heretics, so we can shoot them down? It seems so unloving and so unproductive. I cannot figure it out.

I don't know many people who go out to find heretics. But because conservative evangelicalism sees itself as following the twin mandate of the Pastorals to defend and proclaim the gospel, when they come across heretics they do tend to try to shoot them down. But the main business is proclaiming the gospel.

'Never before in the history of the evangelical church have we had so many evangelicals and of such talent. The whole way we could pull together with other people and other traditions of the church, it could be fantastic.

Quite. Events like Hope 08 seem to be showing just that starting to happen, though of course more effort is going to go into growing individual congregations than into politics.

But rather than do that, we end up squabbling. It is appalling. It is ridiculous. There is no victory there. It is just daft.'

My thoughts exactly. It's odd how different things look from a different point of view, isn't it?