Embarrassed By the Gospel

Jun 1, 2021 by

by Carl R Trueman, First Things:

One of the most striking features of the contemporary Christian scene is embarrassment. Many of the leading traditional institutions of the faith seem embarrassed by the gospel. One example is the current debate within the Catholic Church concerning communion for politicians who support abortion, most obviously President Joe Biden. But if many of the calls for “dialogue” on this matter seem to reflect an unwillingness to pay the price of public scorn for maintaining the good name of Christ, then a recent statement from the Church of England’s education office speaks to a more acute embarrassment and to a fundamental confusion about the nature of Christian worship.

The statement, titled “Inclusive, Invitational, Inspiring: A Statement of Entitlement and Expectation,” is a guidance document regarding worship in Church of England schools. The confusion soon becomes evident: “Worship is collective in that it involves meeting, exploring, questioning, and responding to others and, for some, to God.” It is clear that the authors do not understand the difference between worship and a discussion group. The latter has its place in the church’s work. It is right and proper for the church to listen to the serious questions of both Christians and of those outside the church and to give them thoughtful and engaging answers. But to confuse discussion with worship is to misunderstand what worship is: God’s people collectively meeting with God on God’s terms.

In the one New Testament passage that discusses how an unbeliever or outsider will react when inadvertently entering a Christian worship service, the apostle Paul says the following: “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Cor. 14:24–25). In short, the outsider will not find himself presented with a roundtable discussion concerning the meaning of life or even a TED Talk on how he needs to find his own path to happiness. No. He will be struck down by the sheer convicting power of what he encounters.

This stands in dramatic contrast to what would appear to be the real concern behind the Church of England’s statement: inclusivity. In a paragraph of impressive incoherence, the document’s ambition is clear:

Read here

See also: Bishop Michael, a voice in the wildernessby Peter Mullen, The Conservative Woman: Michael Nazir Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, has criticised the church for its reluctance to preach the Gospel to people of other faiths. As you would expect, there has been an outcry from the so-called liberals expressing their strongest disapproval…


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