At present the archbishop’s strongest challengers are liberals outraged by his compromises on women bishops and by his opposition to the government’s plans to allow gay marriage. (It is now certain there will be women bishops; the question is how generously to accommodate clergy or parishes who will not submit to their authority.) But when the current generation of ordinands hit their stride, the balance may swing in a conservative direction. They are likely to give their bishops a hard time. Many of the rising generation of keen young clerics already make it clear they wish to work in large evangelical churches, ripe for American-style mission, rather than in slums or charming villages where social views are relaxed and doctrinal purity is not prized.
Still, as Simon Barrow, of the liberal religious think-tank Ekklesia, points out, the Anglican evangelical movement is a mixed bag. It ranges from the Alpha-course founders who are happy to deal with Catholics, Orthodox Christians and other denominations, to more sectarian types who are keener on erecting high doctrinal fences. Evangelicalism, like Anglicanism as a whole, is a fairly broad church. So powerful is the nation’s resistance to “narrowness” that even religious fervour rests on compromises.