The Church of England claims to be a Christian church. There are certainly many Christians among its clergy and laity. However, the Church of England is fast losing any real right to be called a Christian church for it is so determined to be syncretistic in its theology and practice-that is, it is so determined not to be exclusively Christian-that it is throwing away one of the absolute criteria for judging a church to be Christian.
Paul Eddy, a lay member of the church's General Synod who is training to enter the Church of England ministry, and a number of conservative Anglicans, have proposed a motion urging the Church to proclaim Christianity as the only way to salvation and offer strategies on how to evangelize Muslims. Eddy and his friends argue that the Church should stop avoiding hard questions about its beliefs. I would put that another way. The motion in effect calls on the Church of England to stop pussyfooting around the fundamental truths of the gospel, especially the truth of the exclusive merit and power of the Lord Jesus Christ to save sinners. It calls on the Church of England to tell the world that Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is the Saviour of the world. It calls on the Church of England to set out to evangelize Muslims and people of other religions, not sit down in dialog in an attempt to discover a gospel that is common to all. In Eddy's words, "The Church of England must make it clear that it believes in what the Bible says about Jesus being the only way to salvation." Eddy went on to say that far from hurting relations with Muslims, being upfront about the Church's beliefs would be helpful to Muslim-Christian relations.
The Church of England has not received the proposal well. Some, obviously, support it. To others it is anathema. And so once again the Church of England is divided, not over some small party issue but over something that is absolutely essential to its identity as a Christian Church. The secular press has reported that senior church leaders as well as some Muslim figures have voiced anger at Eddy's proposal. The last thing Muslim clerics want is to have their people learn the gospel. Even in England, a land renowned for its tolerance and freedom, Muslim clerics want to make sure that English Christians are not given opportunity to evangelize their Muslim neighbors. And the leaders of the Church of England are in many cases so basically anti-Christian that they abominate the thought of Christian evangelism. There is nothing new in this. Years ago the World Council of Churches proposed a moratorium on missions in parts of Africa. Indeed, the ecumenical movement has always proceeded on the premise that Christianity is one of many ways to God. It may or may not be the best way and it has much to learn about God and His love from other religions, all of which can lead their people to eternal life.