Broader Evangelicalism urged by umbrella body ahead of Lambeth Conference

By staff writers
July 16, 2008

The body which seeks to provide an umbrella for Evangelical Christians in the UK has criticised some Evangelicals for seeking to define who can or cannot be considered an Evangelical in terms that are 'too narrow'.

The statement from the Evangelical Alliance, which comes at the start of the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, also expressed its concern about the tone of the discussions concerning sexuality amongst Anglicans.

Many Evangelicals with the Anglican Communion hold a 'conservative' position on homosexuality. Others, however, some known as 'open' Evangelicals, consider that it is in line with their faith for gay priests and bishops to be appointed.

Previously there have been divisions within Evangelicalism over issues of sexuality.

One Evangelical group, the Courage Trust, which started out seeking to 'heal' Lesbian and Gay Christians twenty years ago, ended up changing its position after studying the Bible and working with Gay and Lesbian people. It now seeks to affirm and support Lesbian and Gay Christians. The Courage Trust was however subsequently told to leave the Evangelical Alliance, after the Alliance considered its position to be incompatible with Evangelicalism.

The latest statement however may indicate that the Evangelical Alliance may be shifting to a more tolerant position which accepts Evangelicals who hold differing views on homosexuality as its members. In the statement it said: "It is inevitable, particularly in relation to issues of sexuality, that some of the views we hold as evangelicals will be deemed as ‘wrong’ by the culture around us.

"As the Evangelical Alliance, we have observed with sadness the way in which the debates within the Anglican Communion have been portrayed in the press. Our fear is that the central cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ has not been furthered by the tone in which these discussions have taken place. We are concerned that some too readily seek to define who is and who is not an evangelical Anglican. We are worried that others may be using language that is inappropriate to describe their brothers and sisters in Christ.

"Hence, we offer this prayer to the whole of the evangelical constituency as a means by which we may call on God’s grace to help us in this particular time of need."

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