Friday, September 19, 2003


Evangelicals in the Church of England meet this weekend at a time of high drama over the sexuality argument within the Anglican communion. While much of the media attention will no doubt go to the more belligerent protagonists, 'central' evangelicals are trying to create a space for debate and encounter through a new network called Fulcrum.

They say: "While diversity among Evangelical Anglicans is one of their strengths, fragmentation is not. Our desire is to see the various strands within Evangelicalism drawn together by a shared outlook that flows from historic Evangelicalism's commitment to Scripture, the cross, conversion and mission. We believe this commitment unites all Evangelicals, whether they count themselves as conservative, open or charismatic (or a mixture of all three). It is this that forms the centre of gravity which we seek to renew."

For non-evangelicals that begs a large number of questions, of course. There are some within that fold who deny the diversity of the Bible and its shadow sides, for example. A more serious dialogue on hermeneutics is required. And is the strengthening of 'party identities' really what's needed at the moment? In what would a 'shared outlook' among evangelicals consist -- and how would it enable them to handle the deep convictions of those who disagree with them?

It seems unlikely that hard-liners will be appeased by such moves right now, capital 'E' or not. But Fulcrum's willingness to acknowledge the divisions of their own tradition and to engage collegially with Christians of other outlooks is an important sign of hope. There is a generosity to their statement which is to be applauded.

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