One of the few surviving medieval tortures in England is the three-hour bus ride between Cambridge and Oxford. (Nationalized British rail has discontinued direct service between these intelligent connections.) Yet, for $1.50, the eighty-mile bus bounce is a real bargain in existential exhaustion, and is less exasperating than trying to get one’s new but malfunctioning Ford Cortina to live up to the glossy advertisements.
At any rate, at a time when the flag of institutional Christianity in England seems to flutter at half-mast, the junket gave me opportunity to ponder some of that country’s loosely connected evangelical forces. While many of these energies are channeled into and through the regular established churches, their unswerving objective is the maintenance of an evangelical witness. Many other groups thrive independently.
Through an ingenious variety of approaches, though sometimes there is only a token effort, the Gospel penetrates almost every frontier of English life. One can only be impressed by the many ways concerned believers use to show Christ alive even in this time of spiritual decline. Continually breaking out of the routines of organized Christianity, they seem to remind the late twentieth century that not mere ecumenism but evangelism is the real lifeline of the Church.
My year in Cambridge has criss-crossed many novel features of British life, and I have encountered presentations of the Gospel in city markets, rural auctions, student bread-and-cheese lunches, house meetings, hotel suppers, and formal lectures for intellectuals.
Adjoining Cambridgeshire is Huntingdonshire, where Oliver Cromwell was born. By fifteen years ago biblical Christianity had ebbed to such a low point here that evangelical witness ...1
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