This is a critical time for evangelicals in England. Apart from the dilemma confronting those in all four churches who for theological reasons disagree with the proposed Anglican-Methodist and Congregational-Presbyterian mergers, legislation is pending in the Church of England that undesirably will at once legalize the hitherto illegal and erect further barriers against non-Anglicans who seek occasional communion in a parish church. Here indeed is paradox in an ecumenical age.
But these are not the only reasons for disquiet. The clerical official on Archbishop Ramsey’s own staff at Lambeth Palate who has just announced his conversion to Rome could have found little to dissuade him in the primate’s own ecclesiastical tendencies. Just as his response to his fellow bishop of Woolwich was lamentably weak, Dr. Ramsey’s failure to give the country a clear lead generally in spiritual and moral matters has disappointed many in an age when the British crime rate has risen alarmingly.
The archbishop and his episcopal colleagues not long ago came out strongly in the House of Lords in favor of that section of the Wolfenden Report which would legalize homosexual acts carried out privately by consenting adult males (the government is resisting such legislation). While withholding comment on that vexed issue, one might wish that the hierarchy was prepared to stick out its collective neck on more spiritual occasions also. Lest any imagine, however, that church and state have reversed roles, we should note that Sir Edward Boyle, Minister of Education, two years ago told the House of Commons that he did not regard it as part of his job to prescribe what moral teaching should be given in schools. With the state opting out and the church’s leading ...1
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