The Blessings of a Global Church

May 28, 2020 by

by Charles Raven, Latimer Trust:

In August 2008 the Rt Revd Gavin Reid, former Bishop of Maidstone and leading evangelical, wrote an article for the Church of England Newspaper entitledWhy I am no longer an Anglican’.


Was he then withdrawing from the Church of England? No, far from it, but he had run out of patience with the Anglican Communion. Writing just after the first Gafcon conference had met in Jerusalem to launch a movement of Confessing Anglicans, he wrote ‘The crucial issue for us in England is how much we should allow ourselves to be driven by a controversy that basically belongs to the non-English provinces and is not, therefore, “Church of England”’ and ‘the Church of England is its own animal, and not just a local branch of Anglicanism Inc.’


For Reid, the Communion had become a threat to the ‘Englishness’ of the English Church; and such sentiments may have a renewed appeal in a post-Covid world. It is quite obvious that globalisation is going into reverse as national borders harden, international travel shrinks and nations look to be more economically self-sufficient.


So now seems to be a good time to remind ourselves of the blessings that flow from belonging to a global Church. This should not be strange to us. With the Reformers, we honour the early centuries of the undivided Church and, more importantly, we acknowledge that the Church is a creature of the unchanging Word with all that entails, including the expectation of a common life in the Spirit through space and time which anticipates, however imperfectly, the day when every tribe and nation will worship before the Lamb (Rev.7:9)


Of course, through time we have seen the Church fragmented as it has tried to take on a life and unity of its own making rather than the creaturely unity bestowed by God, but a response that honours Scripture and Anglican tradition is surely not to despair and withdraw, but to reform, which is of course what the Gafcon project seeks to do.

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