Thursday, December 28, 2006

Covenant or conspiracy?

My good friend, Steve Tilley commented on Reform and their schismatic threats recently here. This is in the context of the covenant signed by a group of evangelical leaders of various flavours, which you can read here. Thankfully Bishop Tom Wright has responded, and his text can be found here (hope you're still with me on this one.) Quite apart from the fact that Tom Wright is uncharacteristically forthright in his critique of his former friends and allies, he systematically demolishes many of their arguments. It's well worth a read.

For my part, I find it fascinating that conservative evangelicals are using terms like 'in communion' and worrying about episcopacy. For a group whose eucharistic theology is often 'chew bread and think hard', and for whom bishops were a necessary evil in order to get paid a stipend to preach instead of raising the money yourself, it's a remarkable ecclesiological revelation. We live in interesting times.

Furthermore, the signatories claim to represent lots of churches. I am certain that John Coles didn't consult the congregation or the staff on site (vicar was on sabbatical) at the church I attend, which is well-connected with New Wine. Many in our church would be deeply concerned about alliances with Reform and the Church Society with whom they have differences over gifts of the Spirit, the role of women to name but two. Any figures about the number of churches represented by this dozen or so signatures have, therefore, to be taken with a pinch of salt.
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