..Most people in middle England seem to like the idea of God but can’t believe in the God of the Bible; they like peace and gentleness, prayer not preaching, concerts and carols in beautiful buildings but not dogma or worship; they like being in a club but not an army or a school. According to this churchwarden, catering for these needs, rather than preaching the Gospel so people encounter Christ, repent and believe, is what most churches should aim for in terms of mission strategy. This idea is similar to those of influential sociologist Linda Woodhead, who is often quoted as saying that the Church of England should reflect the religious and cultural views of the majority (for example here).
How many clergy and even Bishops share this idea of mission, proposed in a lead article in the Church Times, as creating communities of hurting doubters, attracted to a romanticized Jesus but distrustful of the Bible, and turned off by stories of healing, change and church growth? It might sound nice for a vicar’s message to be “I have doubts about God but I really care about you ”“ let me sit with you and search with you”, but a) does that conform to ordination commitments? b) is it Christian? and c) will it reach the nation for Christ?
In response, a Confessing Church needs to say that authentic Christianity, and therefore the only hope for Church and nation, is the opposite of these sentiments. Instead of glorifying doubt about God and exalting our own ability to seek the truth, we should surely doubt ourselves, and trust in revealed Truth even if we can’t articulate immediate answers to the thorny theological problems? Instead of being embarrassed and diffident about what we believe, agreeing with those who say “how could God allow”¦?” and “our view of God is like that of the blind men touching an elephant”*, shouldn’t Christians be saying that the way we manage life with our own weaknesses and the world’s suffering is only through confident faith in Christ’s work in the past, present and future?