From the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England
The following letter from eighteen evangelicals was published in yesterday’s issue of the Church Times (3 March 2023 – https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2023/3-march/comment/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor).
The Equal Campaign approves. For far too long conservative evangelical organizations such as CEEC and the Church Society have claimed that only those who subscribe to their package of fundamentalist beliefs are entitled to call themselves evangelical. As the writers of the letter show, this is simply not the case.
The full text of the letter to the Church Times is copied below the fold.
From the Archdeacons of Sheffield and Rotherham, of Dudley, and of Knowsley and Sefton, and 15 others
Sir, — Before and since the recent General Synod’s vote on the House of Bishops’ response to Living in Love and Faith, it has frequently been implied by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and other groups and individuals that Evangelical Christians are united in their opposition to the proposed direction of travel and prayers of blessing for those in committed same-sex relationships.
As Evangelical members of the Synod, we would like to make it clear that this simply isn’t true. Many Evangelical Christians wish to welcome and celebrate committed same-sex relationships, including those attending Evangelical churches across the country who are only now discovering that their views contrast with their church leadership’s. We would, therefore, respectfully ask that organisations, groups, and individuals holding more conservative views recognise this reality and refrain from laying claim to speak for all Evangelical Christians in their public statements.
Similarly, words such as “orthodox” and “biblical” are frequently deployed in an unhelpful manner to imply that those with contrary views are somehow “heterodox” or “unbiblical”. Again, we would simply ask that language be used more carefully and with a greater degree of integrity.
At various points throughout its history, the Church has changed its understanding of what scripture teaches, as the Spirit of Truth continues to lead us into truth (John 16.13). Evangelicals, those with a high regard for scriptural authority, have frequently been at the forefront of such changes, not least in the abolitionist movement. As Evangelicals, we are committed to the authority of scripture, but we are also acutely aware that we continue to “see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Corinthians 13.12) as we seek to interpret the scriptures, and have much still to learn as followers of Jesus.
As Evangelicals, we welcome the House of Bishops’ proposals as an important step on this journey, and thank the College and House for their discernment. We look forward to being able to express God’s love and blessing to more people in our communities, in the hope that they might enter into a fuller relationship with Christ.