Stark choice facing the Church of England (Book Review)

By James.B

DONCASTER, UK (ANS - March 8, 2017) -- The Church of England faces a stark choice of either conforming to current fashion with "easily swallowed soundbites" or of being vigorously counter-cultural, according to one of its most outspoken bishops.

In a new book, Faith, Freedom & the Future (Wilberforce Publications), Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali comments on what he describes as a "dumbed-down" version of the christening service.

In a desire not to offend, the Church was in danger of "capitulating to whatever is fashionable", he writes.

The new "alternative service for baptism" almost entirely does away with sin and the need to repent... We are not told anything about the Christ in whom we are to put our trust. There is no acknowledgement of him as Lord and Saviour. In general, there is a reluctance to declare that the Bible sees the world as having gone wrong and needing to be put right. This is done by the coming of Christ, and baptism is nothing less than taking part in this story of salvation, no part of which can be sold short."

And he concludes: "This is a choice for the Church of England -- either to become simply an attenuated version of whatever the English people happen to believe and to value, or to be full-bloodedly a manifestation of the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church" it still continues to confess in the creeds. Which way will it choose?"

Faith freedom book coverThe book is also a thorough analysis of a number of moral issues facing us, and the bishop's diagnosis is a breath of fresh air which could help to revive our broken society.

In challenging the increasing marginalisation of Christians, he asks why a law originally based on Judeo-Christian principles is being used to silence them.

He also tackles radical Islam -- with his Pakistani background, he is well qualified to do so - and raises the issue of blasphemy against the prophet (Muhammad), punishable by death in many of the Arab countries who have signed up to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion as well as the right to change beliefs?

"What is the difference between Asia Bibi and numerous others on death row, having been convicted on blasphemy charges, and the killings on the streets of Paris and Copenhagen? ...Why does the international community tolerate one but not the other? Is it because Westerners are involved in one but not the other?"

The esteemed author can be laboured in the build-up of his arguments which I sometimes found difficult to follow, but when he gets to the point, he makes it with a forceful flourish, which is no doubt why he has become a popular choice for radio and TV discussions.

Photo captions: 1) Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali with the Queen, who is the head of the Church of England. 2) Book cover. 3) Charles Gardner with his wife, Linda.

Charles and Linda GardnerAbout the writer: Charles Gardner is a veteran Cape Town-born British journalist working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective. With his South African forebears having had close links with the legendary devotional writer Andrew Murray, Charles is similarly determined to make an impact for Christ with his pen and has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 41 years. Part-Jewish, he is married to Linda, who takes the Christian message around many schools in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. Charles Gardner is also author of Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com. He has four children and nine grandchildren, and can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 1302 832987, or by e-mail at chazgardner@btinternet.com .

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