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Seven Reasons Not To Despair About the Church of England

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Posted by Nick Gowers, 2 Jan 2018

Nick Gowers outlines seven reasons that keep him optimistic about the future of the Church of England.

Why I don’t despair about the C of E:

1. God’s sovereignty humbles human pride. I was preaching on the Magnificat on Sunday evening a few weeks ago. Looking through the Bible and history, God clearly brings down the proud and exalts the humble. He always ensures his message endures.

2. The cross-shaped nature of God’s working. God works most clearly through what looks weak and foolish. But I often want a “strong” church or denomination. Do I need the man-made documents of the denomination to be faithful? Do I even need the freedom to be faithful? Or do I just need to be faithful?

3. The power of the Spirit. 1 John 2:29 is an intriguing verse: the Spirit who powerfully created the universe is powerfully at work now. “Keep calm and trust the Holy Spirit.”

4. The marvel of grace. Thankfully, God doesn’t need our theology or our church or our denomination to be perfect in order to save and sanctify his people. Otherwise we’re all stuffed. We are called to maintain sound teaching, but we can leave the saving of individuals and the denomination to him.

5. The promise of Jesus. He will build his church. Jesus does what he says. That doesn’t necessarily mean the C of E will be built. Revelation makes that clear. Church history makes that clear. But where there are those who prayerfully proclaim the gospel Jesus’ll be doing it, even within denominations that are largely faithless or apostate.

6. Most denominations or church groupings veer either to “truth at the expense of unity” or “unity at the expense of truth”. Has there ever been a grouping that got it right? Personally, I have to remember that the freedom to preach that I enjoy within the C of E is largely because it goes for the second.

7. Fear prevents joy. The big turning point for me came with the question of whether God’s power is bigger than heresy. I realised that I implicitly believed that denominations will only ever apostasise, so that you fight as long as you can and then you despair and then you leave. I was living by fear rather than by faith in a great and awesome Saviour. Joyful faith in the gospel will revitalise the denomination, not defensive fighting or despairing fear.

Nick Gowers is the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Old Hill, a Church Society parish.

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