Testing Times -The Church of England and the challenge of Islam

[P]erhaps it is not surprising that two of the most powerful contributions at last week’s General Synod came from bishops who have lived in church cultures very different from that of the Church of England. It was Bishop Michael Nazir Ali who articulated a robust and courageous Christology in the debate on the uniqueness of Christ, and in a later debate Archbishop John Sentamu asked Synod to turn to silent prayer immediately after Synod was urged not to forget the persecuted church in the UK itself, those Asian British people who are shunned and labeled as traitors when they convert to Christianity

Against this background, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s claim earlier this week that there was now ‘a drift of understanding’ in public opinion towards his controversial proposals made twelve months ago for the incorporation of parts of Sharia law into the English penal code seems particularly inappropriate.

In the current context this is a message of surrender. At home it will cause confusion and dismay, but overseas the consequences could well be direct and brutal. As Dr Tudor Griffiths, Rector of Hawarden and Canon Chancellor of St Asaph warned “Many will simply hear that the Archbishop has reiterated his support for sharia law and it will be used as propaganda and will feed violence in some areas of the world.”

Charles Raven for SPREAD

It is little more than a week since the Church of England’s General Synod gave a clear signal that it wished to maintain its belief in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, yet already there have been some sharp reminders that the reality of that commitment is going to be tested by the continuing acceptance of Islamic values and practices in British society.

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