Bishop of Liverpool slams ‘so-called Evangelicals’, and so condemns himself

Jan 8, 2018 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

The term ‘Evangelical’ as applied to Christians has a long and well-chronicled heritage. In 1525, William Tyndale explained in his Doctrinal Treatises (p8): “Evangelion (that which we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.” This gospel is the good news of Christ; the joyful tidings of the New Testament:

…because that as a man, when he shall die, appointeth his goods to be dealt and distributed after his death among them which he nameth to be his heirs, even so Christ before his death commanded and appointed that such Evangelion, gospel, or tidings should be declared throughout all the world, and therewith to give unto all that [repent and] believe all his goods: that is to say, his life, wherewith he swallowed and devoured up death; his righteousness, wherewith he banished sin; his salvation, wherewith he overcame eternal damnation. Now can the wretched man (that [knoweth himself to be wrapped] in sin, and in danger to death and hell) hear no more joyous a thing, than such glad and comfortable tidings of Christ; so that he cannot but be glad, and laugh from the low bottom of his heart, if he believe that the tidings are true (ibid., p9).

The Reformation had placed an emphasis on the individual’s need for salvation and faithfulness to the gospel – a faith no longer mediated by the lofty metaphysics of priests and popes, but characterised by immanence, comprehension, and direct relationship with the divine. As Protestantism fragmented, a remnant retained their missionary zeal and a moral fervour. They became known as Evangelicals or ‘gospellers’ – those whose mission was to preach the message of repentance from sin and of an assured salvation through the blood of Jesus.

Great outpourings of the Holy Spirit followed their witness, such as those seen in the great Evangelical Revival(s) of the 18th century. While many church pulpits had supplanted the life-giving gospel with barren moralism, itinerant preachers like George Whitefield and John Wesley took their message to the streets and fields. Theirs was a clarion call to return to the gospel, the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. With the pulpits closed to them, they witnessed wherever the people were – in the workhouses and marketplaces; in hospitals and prisons. John Wesley covered around 5,000 miles a year on horseback, stopping wherever he was led to preach to those who would listen. “I look upon all the world as my parish,” he wrote. “Thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty to declare, unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”

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