On sitting down for Jesus

” ……………the conviction that the Anglican Communion is the arena of an intense spiritual battle for its very identity. Unfortunately, the place which has now become decisive in this battle is also the place where there is possibly the least willingness to face this reality – the Church of England.”

By Charles Raven, SPREAD

Underlying my recently published book ‘Shadow Gospel: Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis’ and these regular commentaries is the conviction that the Anglican Communion is the arena of an intense spiritual battle for its very identity. Unfortunately, the place which has now become decisive in this battle is also the place where there is possibly the least willingness to face this reality – the Church of England. The problem is that the call to ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus’, in the words of the well known hymn, is only effective if we have first learnt to ‘sit down for Jesus’.
Luke records how ‘great multitudes’ were following Jesus (Luke 14:25), but Jesus becomes a marketing executives’ nightmare when he then tells would be disciples that they must count the cost, like the builder of a tower or a king about to lead out his army against a superior force. In both cases they must ‘sit down’ (vv28,31) if their enterprises are to stand up.
Across the Atlantic, there is much more awareness of what is at stake and this has taken structural form with the emergence of two Anglican polities – the increasingly apostate Churches of the USA and Canada which are still recognised by Canterbury and the Anglican Church of North America sponsored by the GAFCON Primates Council. This structural realignment reflects the underlying spiritual reality of a torn Communion that, in the words of the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration, ‘cannot simply be patched back together’. So much is evident in North America, but how this reality will work out in the UK and England in particular has yet to be seen.

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