William temple once pointed out that a commandment-keeping Christian is less likely to find himself in doublecolumn headlines than he who utters ecstatic gibberish in a public place.

Similarly, a sick bishop who reproduces aging German radicalism with just the right amount of charming diffidence is a much better journalistic bet than 1,000 Christians met in conference to discuss the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ.

The sparse coverage accorded by the secular press to last month’s National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Keele University, England, reflects the ways and values of the world. None of my Anglican brethren, whom I joined for the occasion, is likely to draw the wrong conclusions of Thielicke’s young pastor (adapted here at no extra charge): “Take thine ease, my dear soul, by thy truth thou hast produced a laudable volume of non-news, and mayest regard thyself as justified.… We thank God we are not rat-catchers or ear-ticklers like those pundits yonder after whom half of Fleet Street is running. Our lack of news value testifies to our orthodoxy.”

Yet Keele 1967 will loom large in the annals of Anglican evangelicalism, which had never attempted anything like it in size or scope. Superbly organized, with the strongest team fielded as speakers and the Archbishop of Canterbury himself opening the proceedings, it might have failed dismally. It didn’t. Opportunities were given and taken for evangelicals to commit themselves on issues both vital and contemporary.

One result was that the 10,000-word congress Statement dealt with areas where the evangelical voice has all too seldom been heard in modern Britain. Thus part of the section on “The Church and the World” reads: Christians should be involved with people at every social ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.