Monday, 16 November 2020

"A failure of spiritual leadership" - Christian Institute lecture

This lecture, scheduled for tonight, sounds well-worth listening to:

In my personal view - informed by having lived in multiple foreign countries and thus, I hope, having gained some perspective on trying to analyse how church, state and culture are interacting and thinking about what that means - all is not well in the UK church scene. At all.

One of the things that is not well is that when we listen to the output of the mainstream evangelical organisations, we do not get the impression that all is not well. Or at least, nothing that making sure we preach the gospel in our weekly messages can't mostly account for, if we keep plugging away at it. The outside of the house is still very presentable. The people are sincere, pleasant and persuasive. But all the signs are present that the long-term soundness of the building is deeply suspect. And what is meant by "long-term" increasingly begins to approach, and the number of plausible scenarios in which it actually means "next year, next month, next week" rather than "next decade" begin to increase. There are fundamental problems that exist, that we can ignore most of the time, but which something like 2020 suddenly draws attention to. As well as being a challenge, 2020 then becomes an opportunity: an opportunity to review our course, and what needs doing about it.

As a trustee for the widely-respected Christian Institute (and "Director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics", which I confess I'd not heard of, and a former Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, right at the heart of (Anglican) mainstream UK conservative evangelicalism), Richard Turnbull is potentially a very good person to deliver a message and have people listen. At this point, I do not know what he will say, but the title and summary some promising:

"Many have reported increased spiritual interest in the person of Jesus Christ during this pandemic. This has often been true in these times of crisis. Individual church ministers have often been heroic. However, the response of the church as an institution has been nothing short of scandalous. Why this failure of spiritual leadership? What led to the suspension of public worship for the first time since Magna Carta? There are, of course, broader questions including the trade-off between health and economics, the proper role of the state and the place of liberty, including religious liberty. We will reflect on all these matters."

No comments: