The Nottingham Statement
The Official Statement of the second
National Evangelical Anglican Congress
held in April 1977
|John Stott (Chairman)|
David Gillett (Secretary)
The first National Evangelical Anglican Congress was held at Keele University in April 1967. The second began to be planned seven years later under the joint sponsorship of the Church of England Evangelical Council, the Church Society and the Church Pastoral Aid Society.
The first step taken by the large and representative Congress Planning Committee was to bring into being a number of 'research groups,' whose responsibilities were to isolate the main issues pressing upon the Church today, to study them and then to propose the person who should contribute a chapter on this theme to one of the three pre-Congress books with the general title 'Obeying Christ in a Changing World.
The three books were entitled The Lord Christ, The People of God and The Changing World. Published in January '977, they were sent to all registered Congress participants, who were invited to send written responses to the eighteen contributors. From the large number of responses sent in, each of the authors, with the help of his group, composed an outline of the main topics raised. Thus, on arrival at Nottingham University, each participant received a 'Draft Statement' consisting of eighteen sections which formed the basis of the discussion during the Congress itself.
On each of three successive days, one of the books became the theme of the day. After it had been introduced by a dramatic presentation, the Congress divided into, six sections gathered round each author. First, the author was questioned by an interviewer, and then the section broke into small groups, discussed the questions raised by his draft and submitted written suggestions for alteration or addition. The authors revised their drafts in the light of these submissions with the help of their interviewer, an independent assessor and later the Statement Steering Committee. The revised drafts were duplicated, offered on the last morning to nine subplenaries for further amendment and then finally approved.
This elaborate procedure involved a great deal of hard thought. It enables us to claim that The Nottingham Statement accurately reflects the reaction of the Congress to the three books. It also explains why some duplication and even partial contradiction occurs between different sections. Yet the spirit of openness and love in which participants listened to one another, learned from one another and sometimes disagreed with one another was a sign of our growing maturity as a movement. Two further points are:
First, the Statement is not a comprehensive survey of everything evangelical Anglicans believe; alert readers will notice some obvious gaps. The reason for our particular selection of topics has already been explained. Much evangelical conviction is taken for granted.
Secondly, the Statement is not an authoritative declaration of evangelical Anglican belief For one thing, each section received the endorsement of only one of the nine subplenary sessions. For another, although we aimed at a consensus where possible, we made it plain from the beginning that we had no intention of concealing substantial differences between us where these emerged. One of the main reasons why some sections are longer than others is that they include a diversity of viewpoints.
Nevertheless, although it is neither comprehensive nor authoritative, we publish The Nottingham Statement as a faithful expression of the mind of the Nottingham Congress in April 1977, as a stimulus to ourselves and others to continue the debate and as resource material for this.
'Nottingham 77' has been a wonderful experience. We have worshipped, thought, argued, laughed and rejoiced together. We thank God and take courage.
Nottingham, 18 April 1977
OBEYING CHRIST IN A
Jesus Christ is Lord!
Nearly two thousand evangelical Anglican Christians, meeting at Nottingham University during Easter Week 1977, have recalled that 'all authority in heaven and on earth' has been given to the risen Christ. We have celebrated with great joy his supreme Lordship; we have listened to the Scripture as God's own witness to him; we have tried to discover what it means to obey him in a changing world; and, in particular, we have heard again his command to go into all the world for him. We are ashamed that too often we have allowed our churches to be refuges of comfort and safety rather than communities that equip us for the challenge and insecurity of mission in the contemporary world.
Nation and church today
We are keenly aware that the church is no longer a pastoral institution in a largely Christian country but rather a minority in a missionary situation. Christ, in his earthly life, bore the pain of the world and calls his people to share its agonies today. We believe that the widespread. sense of loneliness and guilt is due primarily to a loss of personal relationship with God and neighbour, which can be fully alleviated only by the love of Christ. Alongside the pessimism of many, there are often to be found a hunger for love and freedom, a search for a spiritual dimension to life, experiments in community living, a concern for human dignity and social justice and a passion for the underprivileged and oppressed--all of which can come to fullness only in the Kingdom of God, whose arrival Christ announced. We confess our share of blame for the moral corruption of society, because we have not been the 'salt5 and 'light' that Christ intends his people to be, and we stand under his judgment for our failure.
We believe that the example of Christ, his teaching (especially as focused in, his 'Great Commission') and the nature of the gospel together constitute a compelling summons to his people to give themselves in both witness and service. Both evangelism and social action are therefore universal obligations laid upon us by the authority of Christ. Both are also expressions of Christian compassion, and Christian social action makes the gospel visible. At the same time, we recognise that God calls different people to different tasks. It is right, therefore, to encourage individual Christians and local church groups to specialise in particular ministries according to the gifts and concerns that God has given them.
'Evangelism' means essentially 'sharing the good news of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again, with a view to making disciples and bringing them into the fellowship of the body of Christ.' We are deeply concerned that the majority of our fellow countrymen do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and that very many of them have never even heard or understood the gospel; so we desire to commit ourselves to the task of evangelism, especially through our local churches, and also through a recognition of the special ministry of evangelists who should be set apart to exercise their particular gift. We renounce glib and superficial forms of witnessing, for we see the need for a costly identification, with people in their alienation. We remember that the gospel is for all nations and pledge ourselves to the task of mission among all peoples, in partnership with national churches throughout the world.
We are grateful for the initiative taken by the Archbishops in their 1975 'Call to the Nation' and still hope that some kind of 'Mission to the Nation' may follow it. At the same time, we are convinced that regional enterprise is greatly preferable to a centrally imposed plan. Every coordinated evangelistic effort requires a common statement of faith and purpose, a diversity of approaches and methods and a commitment to continuous outreach.
The fundamental basis for Christian social action is the character of God himself. Since he cares about righteousness and love, his people must care about them too. The Bible teaches plainly that God desires justice, freedom and compassion to mark every society, whether confessedly 'Christian or not. It is not enough, therefore, that we seek to care for the casualties of unjust social structures; we must also involve ourselves in the quest for better structures, which are more pleasing to God since they provide for an enhanced quality of life.
Nothing inhibits our Christian evangelistic and social activity more than the Church's failure to reflect the life of Christ. We confess that we have not always incarnated the joyful liberty, love and hope of the gospel. Yet a Church that preaches the gospel must also embody the gospel. Christ intends his Church to be a sign of his Kingdom--that is, a model of what human life and community look like when they come under his rule. We commit ourselves to pray, teach and work until the whole Church is so transformed by God's Word and Spirit that it offers the authentic and attractive Christian alternative to life without Christ.
Freedom and obedience.
Christians confess from the heart that Jesus is Lord and find true freedom in submission to his authority. Our minds are free only in believing his truth, our wills only in doing his will. In all matters of faith and conduct, the Bible is our supreme authority and guide, for Scripture was written for our instruction. Christ endorsed the Old Testament, which he also fulfilled, and sent his Spirit on the apostles, thus equipping them to write the New. Christ makes his will known to us through the Scriptures, studied in fellowship and with prayer. It is our abiding evangelical conviction that, in order to obey Christ, we must obey Scripture.
Learning from the Bible
There are several ways in which Christ teaches us from the Bible. As a primary means of leading his people into maturity, he still gives 'pastors and teachers' to his Church. Their teaching ministry should be exercised both through preaching and through modern educational methods. We urge all those whom Christ calls to teach to give themselves yet more conscientiously to the careful exposition and relevant application of Scripture. We also reaffirm the importance of personal and group Bible study with prayer, for the Holy Spirit teaches us both as we read by ourselves and when we teach and admonish one another' (Col 3: 16).
The question has been raised as to whether there are living prophets through whom God speaks today. Paul called the apostles and prophets the 'foundation' on which the Church is built (Eph 2:20). In this sense, as the inspired teachers of the whole Church, they have no parallels in our day. Yet, in a secondary sense, it may be said that bishops, itinerant missionaries and church planters exercise an apostolic ministry and that those with exceptional insight into Scripture and current events have a 'prophetic' ministry.
In addition, some of us believe that God is raising up those whose prophetic gift is to speak under his direct inspiration in order to edify his Church. All of us insist that their utterances must be tested by Scripture, evaluated by the speaker's known character and ordinarily regard I ed as addressed to a local and particular situation and should not be thought of as either additions to Scripture or an alternative to the rational, prayerful study of Scripture as God's main way of showing his people his will.
We thank God for the increase of evangelical biblical scholarship in recent years. What is now needed, as well, are systematic theologians, and specialists in ethics and other fields, who will help us develop an integrated Christian world view.
A wide gap remains between college and church, pulpit and pew: Two bridges could help to span it:
The first is a simple structure to facilitate ongoing discussion between Christian thinkers from different disciplines and denominations, but' all submissive to Scripture, and to make its fruits available in popular form to the ordinary church member. We specially urge the development of regional evangelical conferences, if possible based on theological colleges and drawing on the expertise of their staffs.
The second bridge could be a comprehensive and flexible programme of lay Christian education which should be adapted to people of differing ages, cultural backgrounds and educational abilities; this should incorporate practical training for Christian living. and mission. There remains also an urgent need for thorough, progressive 'in service' training for the clergy and all others in full-time ministry.
JESUS CHRIST THE
The Incarnation is fundamental to the gospel
We acclaim Jesus Christ of Nazareth as Saviour, Lord and God. We acclaim him as, the second Person of the Godhead who took full humanity in space and time so that, by living, dying, rising, ascending and interceding for us, he might bring us to his Father as our Father. This is the foundation truth on which Christianity rests. Without it there would be no gospel, for the work of reconciliation and redemption required a divine redeemer.
The Incarnation is no myth
The widespread present-day view that the New Testament confession of Jesus Christ as God incarnate is a myth concerning a mere man is a real, if unintended, denial of Christianity. It does not see the problem of sin or the need of mediation, is Unitarian rather than Trinitarian and is destructive of true faith. We therefore call upon the bishops of the Church of England as guardians of its doctrine to confirm the Church's historic faith concerning the person of Jesus Christ the Lord, as, reliably witnessed to in Scripture and by the Creeds.
Taking Jesus's humanness seriously
Jesus Christ the incarnate Lord was a real man in every way. His sinless humanity was that of a first-century Jew who experienced, among other things, poverty, hunger, estrangement from his family, racial prejudice and deprivation of basic human rights. We acknowledge that we have not always taken full account of Jesus's humanness, either in understanding his recorded words or in learning from him to fulfil our own humanity and to identify with those who still endure the same kinds of evil.
The Lord is risen and lives
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, giving assurance of his victory over sin, death and Satan and of the bodily resurrection that is every Christian's hope, is likewise basic to Christian belief. To be a disciple is to be personally related to a living, reigning, returning Lord, who is himself present through. the Holy Spirit wherever the gospel goes and wherever Men call on him in faith. 'Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ' (1 Jn 1:3). To say that Jesus remained dead and that what lives on is. his influence rather than he himself is not Christianity.
Christ's Lordship over history
The risen Christ is Lord of all, so that all history runs its course under his overruling sway. The constant threat of chaos and the chronic processes of disintegration in the human community through moral evil forbid evolutionary optimism, but we look for the victorious personal return of Christ as judge to usher in the final consummation of his Kingdom.
The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus Christ
The Holy Spirit makes men see the reality and glory of the one Christ, who is fully God and fully man (cf. Article II), and it is by this test, in the first instance, that we discern the Spirit's work in the Church and in the world in these days. Over the centuries, he has stirred Christian minds to loving exploration of the Scriptural witness to the Saviour's person and work, and there is fresh need for this today. We urge evangelical scholars to play their part in the current discussions of Christology, but the Incarnation and Atonement have to be acknowledged as mysteries greater than Man's mind can completely grasp.
JESUS CHRIST THE
Christ as the agent of salvation
(a) Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of the world. We believe this both because of who he is--the Incarnate Son sent into the world to reconcile us to the Father--and because of what he has done. It is the whole work of Jesus Christ that brings salvation, which is anticipated in the Old Testament, unfolded in his ministry, completed in his death and resurrection, applied in the sending of his Spirit and to be consummated in the future at his return. However, while asserting that these different acts of God in Jesus Christ should not be isolated from one another, we desire that the particular significance of each should not be obscured. Regarding the Atonement ' we all gladly affirm that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the heart of the gospel of salvation: 'Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and was raised on the third day.' Nevertheless, we give different emphasis to the various biblical expressions of Atonement. Some see the truth that Christ died in our place as the central explanation of the Cross, while others, who also give this truth a position of great importance, lay greater stress on the relative significance of the other biblical pictures.
(b) The New Testament describes this salvation! in a number of different ways. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus's preaching the Kingdom of God takes up and deepens Old Testament ideas of 'wholeness,' in which the advent of God's kingly rule takes effect in Man's nature at every level--physical, psychological, sociological and spiritual. St John's Gospel speaks of a new birth and of eternal life in union with Christ. St Paul sets side by side the work of Christ for us--Atonement, remission of sins and justification by faith alone--and his work in us--the new life of sanctification by the Spirit. Other images abound: Christ is seen as the first fruits of a new humanity, as the paschal lamb, as the image and Word of the Father and as the high priest who enters the holy of holies on behalf of the people. All these images of salvation centre upon Jesus Christ and him alone. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is unequivocally the only Saviour.
(c) This richly diverse picture of the salvation won by Christ applies at both cosmic and individual levels. At its heart, it is redemption from the slavery of sin, reconciliation and deliverance from judgment of Men estranged from their God achieved by the objective act of God in the death and resurrection of his Son and liberation to new life in the Spirit, freeing men to do the will of God. But reconciliation to God implies a righting--at least by anticipation--of all that is opposed to the Lordship of God. This includes (though we are not agreed about the extent of this or about the propriety of using the word salvation to describe such things) physical healing, reformation in social and political structures and healing in personal relationships. These are signs of that final renewal of all creation, through the work of Christ, for which we long. So the gospel points us to the future for the completion of what Christ has begun in us and through us, and this is the content of Christian hope. Salvation thus has three tenses: past, present and future.
The Church as the community of salvation
(a) The Church is more than the aggregate of those who have received salvation and more even than a network of relationships centred on Christ as a body to its head. It is nothing less than the visible expression of Christ's salvation--the community of the Holy Spirit within which, by Baptism into Christ, his saving presence is enjoyed. The Church is thus the normal sphere of Christ's saving ministry and the instrument of his salvation to the world.
(b) The uniqueness of Christ necessarily places mankind under the searchlight of divine judgment. As the body of the redeemed, the Church stands as a sign to the world of the realities of God's judgment and of the salvation Christ offers. To affirm the reality of judgment is to claim that an individual's response to God's invitation matters--as, indeed, his moral choices generally matter--and is respected by God. As an expression of the character of God, judgment, both present and future, is inescapably central to the biblical proclamation.
(c) The distinctiveness of the Church as the community of new people under the Lordship of Christ implies necessarily that salvation is not universally enjoyed. Though the Bible excludes the hope of universal salvation, it envisages the presence in glory of a countless multitude of the redeemed. We are not fully agreed, however, as to the ultimate extent of salvation. We recognise that an awareness of God has been given to all Men through creation and that the whole world is, for the sake of Christ, the object of the infinite love and mercy of God. Therefore, through sensitive and humble proclamation and involvement, the Church is to be the servant of the world in seeking to bring that world to the fullness of the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
(d) God has given a general revelation to all Men, and so the marks of Man's spiritual quest are reflected in the great religions of the world. This means that there are broad areas for dialogue and common moral concern with those of other faiths. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ is the only name given by God by which Man must be saved. Therefore, if there are people who are saved without hearing the name of Christ, they are saved only on the basis of his work.
The world as the goal of salvation
(a) Salvation is worldwide in its scope, for the whole world in all its need is the object of the boundless love of God.
(b) Salvation, visibly expressed as it is in the distinctiveness of the family of God, can never be 'contained' within it exclusively. The Church of Jesus Christ is committed to living in the world, proclaiming the work of her Lord both in evangelism and in works of love and concern for the needs of all people. Active concern for the physical, social and political needs of Men is a direct implication of the total mission of the Church, and the fruits of this mission are therefore direct benefits of the salvation of Christ. Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, is thus the all-sufficient Saviour.
Bible, Word and Spirit
We reaffirm our belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture, its entire trustworthiness, the sufficiency of its teaching for salvation and its unique authority. We assert its relevance today to Christian life and thought, especially in the face of attempts to exaggerate its historical remoteness. It was indeed written by particular men in particular historical situations, and therefore we have to work responsibly at the task of understanding it, but, at the same time, understanding it involves being open to God in obedient dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
Interpreting the Bible is a creative process which:
(a) looks at a passage in the ancient theological, historical, cultural and linguistic context that forms the 'horizon' of the writer; and
(b) allows it to come alive and arrest the modern hearer.
The centuries of using the Bible that have passed both help and hinder the modern reader in interpreting the Bible today. The first thing he has to learn to do is to question, in the light of the text:
(i) the assumptions with which he comes to the text;
(ii) the assumptions made in his own culture, as these may affect his interpretation; and
(iii) even his own church's formularies and traditions.
We must beware of hearing from the text only what we expect and want to hear.
The biblical text must be allowed to engage with the varied 'horizons' of hearers: preacher, congregation and those outside the church. The preacher, for instance, must be aware of the difference between these ' This awareness must spring so far as possible from his own personal and emotional involvement in the cultures in which he ministers. But we must not try to force the Bible to answer distinctively modern questions to which the text does not refer. The answers to those questions come in a different way, as Christians exercise their Bible-trained minds.
Community and mind
The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to challenge and edify the Church and the individual within it. The fellowship of the Christian Church makes possible a wholeness of understanding that transcends what is possible to individual readers. The reader of the Bible does not require training in order to understand its basic message, but to understand it more deeply we need the gifts of the scholar and the pastoral expositor. We should use our minds to study the Bible both in its unity and in its diversity; in general, passages should not be interpreted out of context, but, when valuable insights are gained in that way, they must be tested against an historical understanding of biblical truth.
Authority and obedience
(a) The Bible's authority stems from Christ. The Old Testament was Scripture for him and for the apostolic church. The New Testament bears unique and reliable witness to God's self-revelation in Christ.
(b) The Bible is not mere story. Central to the Bible is an account of the working. out of God's purpose in history.
(c) As God's revelation of his truth, it is reliable in all that it genuinely affirms and authoritative for guidance in doctrine and behaviour. Authority is not merely an abstract concept; the varied forms of literature (history, psalms, etc.) have to be understood and applied in different ways.
(d) Thus, it not only conveys information, but also calls men to obedience.
The Church of God
We reaffirm our belief in the worldwide community of God's people as the body of Christ in his world. Our understanding of the biblical analogies of the Church--the people and family of God, the new Israel, the body of Christ, etc.--leads us to stress the unique place of this community in the mission of God. The varied use of these terms in the New Testament implies that the local church is the expression of this total community. Such local churches are not autonomous, however, and must maintain adequate links with the wider Christian community.
The Church and the world
The Church needs to display the marks and standards of the Kingdom of God in its life and work. We admit that the Church has often failed to live up to that calling, and we renew our resolve to be 'a community that submits to Christ as Lord and commits itself to live as he lived.' We commit ourselves to present Christ to the world in the power of God's Holy Spirit by the style of our community life as well as by our message, in awareness of the attractiveness of a loving and caring Christian community.
The Church and its identity
The Church on earth is marked out by Baptism, which is complete sacramental initiation into Christ and his body. In addition to Baptism, we wish to stress the following as necessary identifying marks of the Church:
(a) Commitment to Christian truth expressed in the acceptance of the Scriptures as the revelation of God to Man and the Creeds as the historic expression of the Christian faith.
(b) Commitment to a Christian life style, including the two sacraments as the efficacious signs of initiation and growth within the Christian community.
(C) Commitment to every-member ministry (including oversight) consonant with the role of the Church in God's plan for his world and consistent with Christian truth and life style.
The Church and the individual
We recognise that a necessary stress on the need for individual response to Jesus Christ has sometimes obscured a recognition of the corporate nature of our commitment to Christ, to which the New Testament gives clear witness. We believe that the church is an organic structure within which we depend on each other for Christian life, growth and service. We therefore wish to stress the essential nature of church membership and involvement for healthy Christian life, and we view with concern the lack of interest in the church and its affairs shown by some Christians today.
The Church and the churches
We reaffirm our belief in the importance of the visible unity of Christians and recognise the imperfect image of Christ that is presented by our present divisions. We recognise that the early churches were divided only by geographical boundaries, and we repeat our belief in the visible unity of Call in each place.' We recognise that uniformity is neither desirable nor possible and welcome the diversity of local traditions which would contribute to a renewed and reunited local church.
The Church and its structures
We recognise the need for structures that express as fully as possible our commitment to Christian truth, Christian styles of authority, life and ministry and our identity with the historic Christian community. In particular:
(a) We urge every local church to seek ways of experiencing and expressing the truth that we belong to one another in Christ, to recognise that young and old have much to learn from each other and to examine its structures in order to discover how far they promote or hinder the growth of genuine community life. We are shamed by the lack of spiritual and community life in some churches which has led to growth of independent house churches, but we are saddened by their lack of continuity with the historic Christian community.
(b) We reaffirm the need for the church to be structured for mission as well as for worship, instruction and mutual care. Too many church members are removed from their local community by an excess of church meetings.
(c) We reaffirm our belief in the principle of 'local' churches. We are concerned that large eclectic congregations can effectively deprive local churches, particularly in difficult areas, of much-needed life, leadership and encouragement.
(d) We recognise the value of episcopal oversight as giving visible expression to 'the continuing identity and authenticity of the one Church of Christ in space and time' and welcome the exercise of such oversight 'in council' with elected clergy and laity. We urge the church to accept the opportunity provided by the Diocese Measure and to consider the creation of smaller episcopal areas to allow the bishop to be a real pastor and an identifiable focus of unity for his diocese, so that the diocesan community can be an experienced reality in the context of Synodical Government.
(e) We recognise the value of voluntary societies in encouraging the church's work in many areas of mission and evangelism. We wish, however, to emphasise the necessity of their accountability to the church if biblical insights are to be followed. In student work, particularly, we wish to urge the vital importance of integrating people into the local worshipping community,and of stressing the corporate nature of our response to Christ.
THE LIFE OF THE
(a) We believe that the local church should grow. We also believe that it should demonstrate both the interdependence of the members of the body of Christ and the celebration of the whole people of God. To facilitate this we call for the restructuring of the church.
(b) We recognise the need to wait on God for direction, that different areas are at different stages of growth (making uniform movement unlikely) and that any new pattern should not be directly imposed by pastoral reorganisation; but we look both for the development of small group meetings, having a direct link with the major congregation for worship, study, caring, fellowship and healing, and simultaneously for the coming together of urban churches in sufficient number to have a regular united congregation of several hundreds. Meanwhile, we emphasise that the fundamental unit is the local congregation, even though it may not have a full-time minister.
(c) We urge local churches to work towards a shared and largely indigenous leadership, while recognising the usefulness of importing leaders from outside on a short-term basis. We recognise the need for a systematic leadership training programme at all levels, would draw attention to the very limited nature of 'pastoral' training commonly found in leadership-training programmes and urge the church to provide different sorts of training for leaders, majoring on pastoral rather than academic skills.
(d) We urge that such leaders, duly authorised by the bishop and accountable to the Parochial Church Council, should be able to preside at Communion services where there is no ordained person present.
(e) We believe that the main factor in evangelism will be the renewal of the church as the community of God's people, so that the church will be compelled to go out and preach the gospel and to meet people on the ground that is important to them.
(f) We call attention to the failure of the church in deprived urban areas. In view of the danger of such areas becoming completely de-Christianised, we see an urgent need for live local churches there. We also see the possibility of suburban congregations supporting such churches with finance and personnel.
(g) We recognise also the particular problems of rural parishes, and we call for further study of the application of the principles in this Statement to these areas. We recommend the provision of special training for ministry in rural and inner-urban areas.
(h) We encourage churches to have a regular review of their aims and organisations, perhaps using the techniques of goals and models.
Community life style
(a) We urge local churches to be thoroughly involved in the life of the local community, to bring Christian standards of love and justice and Christian personal values to bear on the life of the community.
(b) We urge churches to examine their styles of worship, decision making and community life to see if they reflect the culture of the area, in the belief that without compromising Christ in any way, in a multicultural area, churches should be multicultural and varied. One example of this is in music, where there should be variety in the use of different instruments and styles of music.
(c) We encourage local churches to explore and develop different ways of living together as a family in community, both in the use of Sunday and in extended families, economic cooperation, etc., while being aware of the problems of those whose family loyalties are divided.
(d) Sensitivity, dialogue and love need to be emphasised in all situations of change. There is a need both to set goals and to allow time for readjustment.
(a) We long for God's Holy Spirit and the Word of God to inspire and control the worship in every church in the country, whatever the tradition or form of service.
(b) We welcome the imaginative reappraisal of the Sunday pattern of worship in many churches.
(c) We are equally divided whether we should reaffirm (Keele Para. 76) that the main church meeting on Sunday should be eucharistic in its worship. In any case, we urge that it should have a considerable amount of time devoted to the promotion of Christian growth among adults and also involve the different gifts and ministries of many members of the congregation in both worship and teaching. The Sunday-morning worship also needs to be such as to encourage families to worship together and to be flexible in pattern and time. We welcome the opportunity for spontaneity in worship and for the exercise of spiritual gifts in worship where practical.
(d) We enjoy our written liturgy and welcome in the Series 3 services the emphasis on joy, freedom, flexibility and congregational involvement. We should like to see these features extended--e.g. in providing variety in the intercessions and in the Thanksgiving in Holy Communion (though we do not think alternative Thanksgivings should be designed to cater for doctrinal differences). We commend experimentation with drama, dance, music, movement, colour, furnishings and setting to heighten the awareness and involvement of God's people in true worship.
(e) On the revision of Series 3 Holy Communion in particular, we are concerned lest any revision should give greater weight to the concepts of petition for the departed, eucharistic sacrifice or permanent reservation of the elements. We are also concerned because a number of our brethren believe that these concepts are already emphasised too greatly, so much so that they feel conscientiously unable to use the service without grave misgivings. We would urge that the main focus of the anamnesis (the part of the Thanksgiving prayer that turns our attention back to the redeeming work of God in Christ) should be the death of Christ, as it is of the whole 1662 service and as it was in the original text of this part of the Liturgical Commission's Series 3 service, without in any sense wanting to lose the broad doctrinal sweep of the mighty acts of God and of the present realities of Baptism, the Spirit, the Church and the future hope of Christ's coming back again. We reaffirm that intentional verbal ambiguity to bring together mutually contradictory doctrinal positions should not be a principle of liturgical revision.
(f) The Church on earth, is marked out by Baptism, which is complete sacramental initiation into Christ and his body. We emphasise that both the outward sign and the inward work of grace are essential to the full benefit of the sacrament. We accept adult baptism as the theological norm but agree that the children of Christian parents are rightly included as recipients of Baptism and are to be brought up as members of the community. We believe, however, that the practice of indiscriminate Baptism is wrong, because it blurs the distinction between the Church and the world and encourages an understanding of Christianity that verges on a folk religion. We safeguard the font in a parall4i manner to the way in which we safeguard the Lord's table. If parents refuse to participate in reasonable educational preparation for Baptism, they must be deemed to have ruled themselves out. In the final assessment of those who complete the course, we urge the utmost charity. We consider that Baptism should always take place within public services unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary. The next stage after Baptism is to come to the Lord's Supper, but it is clear in Scripture that an element of discernment is involved in participating. We urge the church to look again at the Ely report and should like to see:
(i) the separation of Confirmation from admission to Communion;
(ii) the admission to Communion of baptised Christians able to repent and believe, though many of us would be unhappy to allow young children to receive Communion; and
(iii) the abolition of Confirmation. for those baptised as adults, including those transferring communicant membership from another church of another denomination.
The Christian life consists in a living and sustained relationship with Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit and is not dependent upon feelings. The start of this relationship is described in numerous ways in the New Testament, including that of 'new creation' and 'new birth.' While each Christian must make his personal response of faith and obedience, isolationism is excluded because of the clear New Testament teaching that the believer cannot grow outside the family of God. Baptism is the sacrament of God's grace in Christ, signifying entrance into the Christian Church. We need other members of the family so that we can truly be ourselves. Within the secure family, similarities and differences play significant roles in the growth of each member towards Christian maturity.
The church's teaching
We recognise that, in all Christian teaching, such factors as temperament, age, education and background influence the response of people to Christ's claims and must therefore be taken into account. Nevertheless, we call upon the church to be clear and forthright in its teaching concerning repentance and conversion. Although these words are technical terms to describe a person's response to Christ, the truths they enshrine should be at the heart of Christian teaching and proclamation.
We accept as fellow Christians all those who confess Jesus Christ from the heart as Lord, whatever their spiritual experience or denominational allegiance. We believe that Baptism in the name of the Trinity is the normal expression of this faith. We are glad that Christians both inside and outside the charismatic movement are growing together in understanding and acceptance, and we earnestly hope this will continue. All of us need to expose ourselves to the challenge of the New Testament concerning the fulincss of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit and the exercise of spiritual gifts.
The infant in the church
We reaffirm our loyalty to the church's practice of baptising the infant children of professing Christian parents, although we recognise that there are some Anglican Christians who would prefer believers' baptism to be the norm and infant baptism,the exception. We express strong concern over the laxity with which infant baptism is often administered and regret that the call of the first NFAc at Keele, ten years ago, for a national policy of baptismal discipline has not been heeded. Indiscriminate baptism is a scandal to the Christian gospel and does not help those parents outside the church who bring their children to Baptism. We acknowledge that evangelicals in the church have not always practised what they preach about initiation, and we call upon them and the whole chuch to give greater attention to the preparation of parents and the continuing care of those baptised. We believe that Baptism represents complete initiation into Christ and his Church. We wish to stress, however, the need for thorough instruction and careful nurture of the child in both the church and the home. Baptism is given in the expectation that the child will grow in the faith in which he has been baptised and profess it. The necessity for a personal response of faith should be made clear in any future amendment to the form of service.
The child, Confirmation and Holy Communion
We are divided on the advisability of admitting children to Communion. Some welcome the resolution of General Synod that "diocesan bishops, in consultation with their synods, be invited to make wider use of the discretion already allowed by Canon B27 so as to admit younger children to confirmation when so requested,' but they urge that this discretion should be exercised with the utmost care and with very carefully controlled safeguards and are not convinced that it is wise to make Confirmation available to children below secondary-school age. Others advocate a variation of the traditional order and the admission to Holy Communion of baptised children of communicant parents after due preparation. They believe that the rite of Confirmation is best left as an act of commitment to adult discipleship. All are agreed that the junior child is an important member of the church's family and should have a welcoming, caring pattern of worship and Christian education. We believe that, at whatever age a person is confirmed or admitted to Communion, there is a great need for continuing training to accompany attendance at Holy Communion and make for informed adult commitment to Christ in his church.
Christian maturing describes that aspect of growing up that begins at the new birth and is dependent at every stage upon the action of the Spirit through the grace of God. Becoming mature in Christ involves both the deepening of our relationship with him in repentance, faith and obedience and the transforming into his likeness, which will include our thinking, behaviour, attitudes, habits, and character. Together with growth in the knowledge of God and his truth, there should be a development in capacity to distinguish between good and evil. The supreme glory of this maturing is the increasing ability to love and be loved in our relationship with God, the Church and the world. This transformation is accomplished by the action of the Holy Spirit, using the means of grace (worship, sacraments, prayer, preaching, Bible study, etc.). The Holy Spirit brings people to Jesus our Lord and changes them into his likeness 'from one degree of glory into another' (2 Cor 3:18). This is the high calling of all God's people and should be seen in the context of God's wider plans for creation (Rom 8: 19-23).
Maturing and wholeness
Christ came to make us whole people, and we believe that this process should affect every aspect of our being. We recognise that in this life the process is incomplete, but when Christ appears 'we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (1 Jn 3:2). We recognise the important progress that has been made in the field of behavioural studies and the resulting greater understanding of Man, but we believe that this whole field needs to be carefully reassessed in the light of what the Scriptures reveal of Man's nature, on the one hand, and God's grand design for him in the totality of creation, on the other. Contrary to some current theories of human behaviour, we believe that Man is a responsible and fallen creature, and both the desire and the willingness to be brought to maturity in Christ are vital, as well as an honest recognition of our real needs and feelings.
Maturing and suffering
We accept that Christian maturing involves suffering--personally and corporately. Jesus himself was matured through suffering (Heb 2:10). We confess how little the suffering of people throughout the world has touched us, and we resolve that we shall try to share more with them in their suffering, that we may share also in their maturity.
Maturing and spiritual warfare
We recogruse that Christian maturing takes place in the context of spiritual warfare and that temptation and trials, which are common to all of God's people, are also a means of Strengthening them and a source of joy to them. We acknowledge the faithfulness of God who keeps us in the hour of trial and makes us more than conquerors in Christ. We also accept the reality of both Satan and evil spirits, but we rejoice th4, by his death, resurrection and ascension, Christ won the victory and has given us authority over them. He frees us from satanic power through the proclamation of the Word, the administration of the Sacraments and the faith that they inspire, though some people who are harrassed and possessed by evil spirits may require this ministry through a special kind of deliverance or exorcism. This ministry is part of the commission that the Lord Jesus has given to his Church, but it should be exercised only by those who have experience in it and in accordance with New Testament principles. We urge our bishops to commission those clergy and laity whom Christ has gifted for this ministry and make public the safeguards that the Archbishops listed in 1975.
Maturing and the Church
We believe that the maturing of a Christian should normally take place within a God-centred, caring and committed body of people,: the Christian community. For this to happen, the church needs to be restructured so that it can provide pastoral care for each member at every level (local, diocesan, etc.). In this context, we welcome the new emphasis upon small groups and communities in which sharing can take place in a deeper way.
There needs to be created a Christian environment so that Christians can mature in relationship to one another. This should not be thought of as a kind of ghetto--an escape from the world of reality. It is rather that the Church needs to be much more obviously the Body of Christ, whose members are committed to one another in love and trust, so that they can work out together what maturing is all about.
Maturing and ministries
We believe that Christian ministry, which is the privilege of every member of the Body of Christ, is intended to bring the whole Christian community into maturity (Eph 4:11-16). It should therefore be varied and flexible enough to minister to every kind of person and need, at the same time being effective in evangelism and mission in the world.
Maturing and gifts
We welcome the widespread emphasis upon spiritual gifts in the contemporary Church, while recognising that discernment is necessary concerning their validity, and love and patience concerning their use. We believe that they have an important part to play, together with other gifts, in the bringing of the Church to full maturity in Christ.
Christianity is a one-caste religion: all Christians are equally called to minister to Christ in the world, and ministry must be seen as a calling for all, not a status for some. We wish to encourage the varieties of ministry and diversities of gifts in the one body.
Clerical professionalism has gravely inhibited the proper development of the diversity of ministries. We deplore the prevalent pattern of 'one-man ministries,' which are good neither for the man nor for the parish, and we call on parishes to work towards shared leadership. The New Testament pattern is always for a group of presbyters to form the leadership of the local church or group of churches. Ac6brdingly, we invite the bishops to work towards ordaining under license a number of presbyters (non-stipendiary) in each parish who will constitute the leadership of that church whether or not a stipendiary presbyter is available.
The principle of selection of these presbyters, who may include women and will absorb and replace Readers, must be to recognise the gifts of leadership that the Spin't has given them. The method of selection will vary but should emerge by consensus from the local church. In the event of a presbyter's moving to a new area, the new congregation could invite the bishop to license him. Training should be in short courses in their local areas, possibly with some residential training. We believe that the present method of selecting, training and using non-stipendiary ministers (formerly APM) is seriously mistaken and must be reformed. All too often, academic criteria predominate in selection, training is inappropriate, and their ministry is limited to celebrating Holy Communion in their spare time.
The Church of England has, for years; been adding to its problem in ministry and leadership by linking parishes together because of the shortage of money and clergy, yet it has done little to equip 'lay' members of the church for leadership. Not only must groups of presbyters be recognised in each place, but they, and other members of the congregations, must be adequately trained--and retrained--to fulfil their ministry. We call the Synod to examine and implement an overall strategy for Christian education in the church, and we recognise that this will not demand costly commitment from all concerned.
One of the main purposes of the ordained ministry is to train and to encourage the varieties of ministry and leadership. We stiall always need people for a highly trained stipendiary ministry, dedicated to the equipment of the local ministers for their ministry. Such stipendiary ministers will usually need two to three years in secular employment before beginning their training. Residential training remains invaluable; indeed, the need for larger., competent theological colleges is greater than ever before in the light of current and projected trends in university faculties of theology. We value the present independence of theological colleges and wish to maintain their distinctive and diverse theological emphasis. It is in them that the intellectual leadership of the church will be nourished and used for equipping others, and it is not necessary that all the theologians should themselves be ordained.
We repent of our failure to give women their rightful place as partners in ministry with men. Leadership in the church should be plural and mixed, ultimate responsibility normally singular and male.
We rejoice to be an episcopal church. The New Testament pattern of ministry is not only for groups of presbyters to form a local leadership but also for a more-mobile ministry, which in the Church of England consists of bishops and archdeacons and, together with them, should include evangelists, training specialists and practical theologians. The bishop is not only the focus of unity, the guardian of scriptural truth and the pastor of the pastors but also the leader in mission and renewal. We desire that our bishops should be set free for this ministry.
We believe that mission in all its aspects remains one of the supreme purposes for which Christ instituted his Church, that if we do not grow we atrophy and that effective outreach is best achieved by mobilising the talents that are already present in the congregation for 'every-member ministry'. We need to learn from the experience of Christians in other parts of the world, both in mass and personal evangelism. For most of us, the prime sphere for witnessing to Christ is in our daily work (and some must put the weight of their influence into their trade union, local and national politics and social concern).
We acknowledge with shame our failure in inner-city and rural areas. There is an urgent need for our commitment to the churches in these areas in terms of manpower and financial resources; the church must not be identified exclusively with middle-class suburbia. Christians should be much more open to live and work in needy areas, whatever the cost. Moreover, Christian leadership needs to be drawn from a much wider spectrum of cultural and educational backgrounds, so that the church can be truly indigenous in every part of our land.
It is impossible to have power in ministry without sacrifice. This may involve celibacy, the contemplative life, the open home, living in an extended family or a peripatetic ministry for Christ's sake. The gospel challenges our materialistic church to this quality of life.
THE CHURCH AS
We believe that the particular structures of the institutional church must express its life and serve its mission. We therefore seek continuing institutional reform to give a better and more-flexible expression to the Church as the Lord's family, the steward of the gospel and the caring servant of individuals and of society.
We reaffirm (see Keele '67) the task of the local church in mission and that this implies some kind of geographically based area of responsibility. We uphold the Church of England ideal of a resident ministry (but not necessarily individual, ordained or stipendiary) in each community.
Church government and administration
We urge upon the Standing Committee of General Synod a programme of continuous review, so that at every level our church may soon devote less time and resources to its internal business, legal processes and administration.
We believe that an applicant for enrolment on the church electoral roll should make some current declaration of Christian faith and some recognition of financial responsibilities. Many of us, in addition, believe that the same qualifications for membership of a church's electoral roll should be required of residents in the parish as of nonresidents.
We resolutely affirm our belief in the 'voluntary principle' but also welcome the way in which voluntary missionary societies, theological colleges and similar agencies have achieved and strengthened working relationships with official church structures and are rightly recognised as agencies of the church's life and mission.
We support a careful use of theological-training resources in providing for a diversity of needs. We nevertheless believe that the true comprehensiveness and well-being of the church will be better served by the continuance of the distinctive theological traditions of existing colleges than by any attempt to impose a uniform comprehensiveness. For the different traditions within the Church of England to make their contribution in charitable and fruitful dialogue, each must have a firm base in colleges and also in parishes and voluntary societies.
We see a continuing usefulness for patronage trusts, while welcoming many changes for the better in the conditions that gave rise to them. Many would like to see more-open advertisement of vacancies. We ask those concerned with any change of system to give priority to the cause of the gospel, the nqed of the vacant parish and the involvement of the local church. We stress the practical value of the patron-parish relationship, our concern for older clergy and the need in any changed system to avoid yet-more administration.
We hope that our church will not seek to renounce, but to share with other Protestant churches the ancient constitutional ties that establish her as the church of this realm. We value these, not for privilege but for service, not for the church but for the nation. We look beyond the secularism of the present to a day when the English people shall again seek the substance as well as the name of Christian faith.
Bishops and clergy
We continue to appeal for bishops and clergy to be freed from excessive administrative burdens and too-widespread areas of immediate responsibility, so as to exercise more effective pastoral care and oversight; we welcome such steps as have been taken in this direction.
A servant church
We urge the church to relinquish the continued use of historic but pretentious titles, overelaboration in ceremonial and dress and similar traditions. We believe their value in function and continuity is now well outweighed by their power to alienate the man in the street, who is still powerfully attracted by the simplicity of Jesus of Nazareth.
We look for a church less committed to specific single-purpose buildings. We warmly welcome the promise of State aid for our historic heritage. We urge courage and pastoral and financial realism in dealing with underused plant.
Money and employment
We believe that God has given to our church all the money that it needs--but that too much of it is still firmly in the pockets of its members. We affirm the biblical principles of Christian stewardship and regret that the phrase has been devalued by its use in commercial fund-raising techniques. We urgently commend the teaching and practice of tithing and believe in principle that a local congregation should be encouraged to pay for its own minister. We urge the prior claims of those least able to help themselves, among them parochial areas unable fully to support their own ministry, the third world, overseas mission and income and working expenses for clergy and other stipendiary servants of the church.
We call for a thorough investigation into the nature and future requirements of the stipendiary and other ministries in the light of the apparent serious discrepancies between the Sheffield Report and the document Inflation, Deployment and the Job Prospects of the Anglican Clergy by C. O. Buchanan.
We support the Archbishop's lead in seeking more men and women for full-time ministry and the principle that none whom God is calling shall be denied training through lack of means. We recognise our share of responsibility to ensure that adequate financial support is provided.
THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH
We affirm upon scriptural grounds our belief in the visible unity of the church (see 'Church as Community' statement). We believe that this unity can be truly visible only when the Christians of r each place' not only share in a common baptism and a common confession of faith, welcome each other to the Lord's table and work together in mission but also merge their institutional structures to the point where there ceases to be any concept of 'each other' but only of a common life of all. This unity should be marked both by a common acceptance of the authority of Scripture and by a rich diversity of expression. We believe that the quest for visible unity is inseparable from the quest for growth in holiness, grasp of truth and effectiveness in mission.
As Anglicans, holding to the Church of England's historic reformed stance, we also believe that to attempt to gather a I pure' church is not only impossible as a task but also contrary to our biblical understanding of the visible church. In rejecting secession, we do not acquiesce in the low levels of godliness found so much in the Church of England--and among ourselves--but rather pledge ourselves the more seriously to work for the building up of the Church of England as a worthy instrument of God, both for the union of the churches and for the mission of the people of God to this country.
While we value the historic responsibility given to the Church of England, we renounce any superiority complex of which we are guilty. We deplore the tacit triumphalism that marks so much of the Church of England's public institutional life, and we wish to see this cease. We recognise that our historic constitutional links with the State, while valued by many of us, are a cause of concern to others and that we have often been insensitive to the offence they have caused to some non-Anglicans.
We repent of the carelessness and insensitivity on our part which has contributed to the growing apart ofAnglican and Free Church evangelicals during the past ten years, when we have been playing a fuller part in the Church of England. We wish to reassert our commitment to share in interdenominational work for both home and overseas mission.
While we retain our concern for reunion with other denominations as parts of the visible church of God, and we accept in principle (though not at all costs) that we should be reunited, we recognise that there are some Free Church evangelicals who view such a goal as harmful to the gospel and may be hindered by their independent view of the church from taking part in any proposed steps towards it. We also recogm, se the presence among us of the so-called 'black churches' that are separated from us largely for understandable reasons. We, for our part, wish to acknowledge the work and witness of all these groups; many of us enjoy fellowship with these churches, and we pledge ourselves to keep the closest and friendliest possible contact with them.
We see a particular ecumenical significance in, the Charismatic Movement, especially in its strong witness to the primacy of God and of the knowledge of God in all Christian enterprises. We rejoice at every point where this witness has enabled Christians to keep denominational loyalties and aims as necessarily and only derivative from these prime concerns. In various ways, we are indebted to the Charismatic Movement in our own spiritual insights and priorities just as, in various ways, many of us also have question marks to place over som c of the teaching and emphases associated with it). We welcome the publication of the recent agreement between 'charismatic' and other Anglican evangelicals and wish to live and work together from now on without any sense of the 'them and us' to which both sets have often been accustomed.
We welcome the Ten Propositions on Church Unity and particularly the whole project of multilateral talks from which they spring. We fear lest the actual progress they offer towards visible unity may be so slow that consideration of them may be overtaken by boredom and incredulity, by a reaction against all church structures or by financial extremity, decline in membership and collapse of morale in any or all of the churches involved. We note that, at this moment, the Propositions are referred to the Anglican diocesan Synods, and we ask for the Synods to consider resolutions as follows:
(a) In assenting to the Propositions, we affirm that our quest is for the actual corporate reunion of the Christian denominations in England--with both local and national implications.
(b) In assenting to the Propositions, we wish on the 'accepted date' to 'recognise . . . the ordained ministries of other churches' (Proposition 6), and we do not believe that such 'recognition' is compatible with any rite that would imply that they were not 'ordained ministries.' We reject anything comparable with the old Anglican-Methodist 'Service of Reconciliation' and ask that the Proposition should be taken at its face value.
(c) In assenting to the Propositions, we understand 'visible unity' to involve a common acceptance of the authority of Scripture.
We value episcopacy, as understood in the Church of England, both for its historic significance, witnessing to the continuity of the church of God, and also for the practical outworking of pastoral oversight that it affords. We would wish to retain episcopacy in any union of churches, but we do not think that it is essential for the existence of the church, or that it is in all cases the means by which ordination should be conducted, and we consider that the current Anglican practice of episcopacy ought to be reformed.
Independently of the Ten Propositions, we believe that the denominations could and should do more to make the ecumenical stance credible and substantial. At the local level, we are glad that there are already many informal expressions of ecumenical cooperation and fellowship. Yet much more needs to be done, and many feel that further ecumenical efort should be concentrated locally; Therefore, we pledge ourselves to seek ways of joining with neighbouring churches in structuring together our congregational lives in united worship and mission and in the joint use of buildings, money and pastoral resources. At national level, we call for the denominational leaders both to encourage these steps and to take corresponding action at higher levels of church government. This would include pursuit of the 'ecumenical map' (dioceses and denominational districts adjusting to common boundaries), structuring together denominational departments and boards and producing better frameworks for areas of ecumenical experiment. We acknowledge the cost of these changes at all levels but affirm our confidence in God's enabling power.
The present situation
(a) We recognise and welcome the changing situation and the movement for renewal in the Roman Catholic church since the second Vatican Council, and we want to respond to it.
(b) Seeing ourselves and Roman Catholics as fellow-Christians, we repent of attitudes that have seemed to deny it.
(c) We welcome the growing emphasis upon the Bible as normative for Christian faith and conduct.
(d) We wish to be better informed concerning the Roman Catholic church today and will support and encourage opportunities for dialogue between us at all levels.
(e) We believe that agreement on fundamental doctrines must precede any formal act of reunion.
(f) While still regarding the major issues of the Reformation as crucial, we welcome the progress made towards doctrinal agreement such as is evidenced in the ARCIC (Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission) statements.
Where clarification is needed
With a diversity of statements emanating from Roman Catholic circles, we find it perplexing to know their present doctrinal position. We feel the need for some official denials of past claims along with official statements of current agreement. At the same time, we should welcome an indication from Roman Catholics of clarifications they desire from us. For our part, we need further elucidation in the following areas:
(a) Does the Roman Catholic church place itself under the Old and New Testament Scriptures as the final authority under Christ?
(b) What is the relationship of tradition and the teaching authority of the church to Holy Scripture?
(C) What authority today have the statements of such Councils as those of Trent and Vatican I?
(d) Are men justified by grace through faith, with their good works a fruit of justification and not a source of merit?
(e) How is the Eucharist related to Christ's sacrifice on the Cross?
(f) What standing have the Marian dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Bodily Assumption?
(g) What authority would be vested in any contemplated universal primacy?
(h) How far could the present policy on mixed marriages and separate schooling be modified to heal the divisive effects of the present position?
Action to be taken
In restating our attitude to the Roman Catholic church, we want simultaneously to affirm our close doctrinal and spiritual ties with non-Anglican evangelicals, which we are most anxious not to jeopardise. To this end, we need to clarify the Anglican stance on comprehensiveness.
(a) We shall all work towards full communion between our two churches. We believe that the visible unity of all professing Christians should be our goal.
(b) We ask Roman Catholics to try to understand our difficulties as we seek to understand theirs.
(c) We wish ARCIC to amplify their doctrinal statements in those areas where we have asked for further clarification.
(d) We shall encourage every kind of cooperation that may bring the goal of full communion nearer; some would welcome intercommunion as a step in this direction.
(e) Realising the urgency of the situation, we shall make time to get to know and to learn from one another, especially by praying and studying the Bible together.
POWER IN OUR
A theological framework
(a) Government is an activity ordained by God and is a calling to the exercise of power in response to the demands of justice, love and freedom.
(b) Government requires institutions and structures for it to work. While these ought to serve the godly purpose of government, they can and sometimes do turn power to evil and oppressive purposes.
(c) The divine ordinance of government does not predetermine any particular form or structure, and so these must always be regarded as capable of change or reform.
There is an urgent need for Christians to involve themselves with greater commitment to the different levels of the activity of government. This involves commitment to local and national politics, trade unions, housing associations tenants' associations, health committees, local pressure groups, etc.; this must be seen as a vital part of the Christian vocation. In its pastoral ministry, the church will need to give positive support and encouragement to those so involved. There is an urgent need for the church to diver more of its time and resources to in-depth political education. As part of its ministry, it must encourage its members to be more effective in the practice of politics.
We are disturbed that so many of the values of our political life are accepted by the church without serious question. We are also aware that, in the past, concern has not always been matched by action. We ought also to be disturbed and aware of the judgment of God upon our social values when, despite economic conditions, the majority of us have a higher standard of living compared with some, who are, for instance, homeless, discriminated against and have inferior facilities for education, medicine and social welfare. We challenge the accepted norm that ever-growing economic prosperity is the sole aim of a responsible society. Many important things in human life are not dependent upon economic growth.
The structures of govemment in our country seem unable to promote serious debate in the whole community about the direction of our political life. It is not surprising, therefore, that our political institutions appear powerless in the face of need. The centralisation of power away from its roots among the people and the growth of a bureaucracy that is increasingly difficult to call to account are basic to the problem of the use of power. We must work for change in the structure of politics. Such change must lead to real participation by the whole community in political power. We are concerned that the structures of industry reveal similar features; the resulting anonymity is a major factor in the increasing frustration of people, particularly those working in large industrial plants. All of this has led to the erosion of personal freedom and the sense of powerlessness that many experience. The church's own witness and example in social action has too often been muted by fear of conflict, ignorance of effective methods, its own institutional weakness and even a lack of commitment by individuals within it.
A vision for politics
We believe that politics needs the vision for human life that is given to the world in Jesus Christ. Christians are in politics to work for justice as the basis of peace and for freedom as the key to responsibility. Political action necessitates working with many other groups; which are also concerned that politics should pursue values and which struggle to enable the community to respond to the needs of the weaker, poorer and more-deprived sections of our society.
We are unable to achieve a consensus on the way of solving many of the issues concerning our political and industrial structures. However, the following specific proposals achieved support in group discussion (though it was not possible to test opinion on these matters in plenary sessions)
(a) Reform of the voting system along the line of proportional representation (see General Synod's recent resolution on this subject).
(b) Devolution of power, including financial power, to identifiable regions.
(c) Smaller units of local government.
(d) Support, including financial, for responsible opposition groups on particular local issues--e.g. at enquiries on planning issues.
(e) Formation of neighbourhood councils in urban areas (equivalent to parish councils in rural areas).
Specialist group reports
Some work was done by groups on three specialist subjects: unemployment, industrial democracy and local politics.
(a) We are deeply concerned at the current levels of unemployment--particularly in deprived city areas--and we call upon Christians to consider prayerfully what the role of the church should be in its alleviation.
(b) While we value Man for his own intrinsic worth, we affirm that it is of his nature--divinely ordained--to earn his living by work and that it is therefore his right to have the opportunity to work.
(c) We call upon Christians to underline and support work currently being done in this field by the Government, the church and other agencies and also to inform themselves of the schemes currently available and the opportunities currently open to church involvement.
(d) We see Christians as having an immediate dual role: first, the loving pastoral care of those who are unemployed or redundant; and, secondly, the creation of viable schemes of employment.
(e) We call upon Christians everywhere to become involved in the structures of power to provide opportunities for work, especially in the deprived areas of our cities and towns.
(f) We call upon the suburban churches to consult and work with those churches in deprived areas so as to enable such churches to care for the unemployed and to create new opportunities for work.
(g) We call upon Christians in urban areas to consider whether they should stay in those areas, exercise their discipleship there and serve people there rather than 'move on and move out.'
(h) There are a number of biblical principles that touch upon industrial matters--i.e. the concept of Man made in the image of God, the mutual responsibilities between employers and employees, the need for check upon the abuses of power, the concept of vocation and interdependence in the community between people with different vocationS.
(j) Communications are vital in industrial relations. The views of all should be considered, and the ultimate goal for the normal situation should be for all employees to consult together on all major issues, including working conditions, wage structures, business philosophy and such major changes as mergers, take-overs and redundancies. Participation should be at all levels of a company. Although, in the past, the significance of the entire workforce has not been recognised, it must be so in the future. We seek genuine and mutual representation of employees at all decision-making centres in a firm, and we recognise at least five: boards of directors, executive committees, consultative committees, shareholders' meetings and shop-stewards' meetings. Because of the problems of communication, we believe industry and commerce should examine methods aimed at reducing the size of operational units in order to improve commercial and industrial harmony. We assert the principle of a secret ballot of all employees as a means of consensus. Our theological principles lead us to seek for each member of a firm's caring for every other member--to bear out love for neighbour, whether neighbour is below or above him in the hierarchy. We reassert the dignity of Man and the dignity of work, and we long for trust to exist throughout a firm among all employees, but we realise, in a fallen world, structures must be built to safeguard all from the abuse of power.
(k) Involvement by the individual in the community through local politics should be among the priority items of church commitment.
(l) The local church has a responsibility to be alert to local events and changes as part of its care for the community.
(m) It is necessary for the church to ensure that some members are aware of the processes of local government and are thus able to dispel unnecessary anger and distrust.
(n) The local church has a role in providing encouragement in measures where a clear Christian principle is involved.
(p) Apathy in politics is un-Christian; we should use our vote responsibly.
(q) Involvement in local politics need not be left only to individuals, but the possibility of comment should be carefully considered by PCCs.
Some desired to rewrite the whole Statement, and the following alternative was therefore produced:
(a) Government is created by God, who gives to Men the authority to provide a framework within which the sinfulness of Man is best able to be restrained and the integrity of the individual and his freedom of choice to be recognised.
(b) We accept that power is wielded by sinners in a fallen world. It is individuals who make up institutions and who therefore remain responsible for their individual as well as the corporate misuse of power.
(c) There is a clear biblical directive to Christians to involve themselves at all levels of the activity of government. We believe that there should be an increasing growth in encouraging local participation in political decisions.
(d) We believe that the needy, the inadequate and the more-deprived sections of our community, in so far as their needs are material, can be helped only if the creation of wealth is encouraged.
(e) We believe that the problem of powerlessness in our society results from the scale and the increasing 'politicisation' of modern life, which in turn means the growth of bureaucracy and the erosion of property rights.
(f) We believe that the responsible ownership of private property is a biblical mandate for a fallen world. As a consequence, we are convinced that the widespread distribution of private-property rights is a necessary condition in a fallen world for the development of a responsible and relatively free society.
(g) Reconciliation: we are much concerned to show that Christians should play a leading role in stimulating reconciliation within the industrial, commercial and community scene. This will involve less emphasis on differences--whether they be to do with management and productive tasks, class or environmental differences--and more with the fact that all human beings have a common identity and value with and to each other.
(h) Communication: throughout the Bible, we are taught that God normally exercises his power by communicating with Man; we, in turn, must learn to do likewise. This can be achieved only if adequate consultative processes are voluntarily adopted between government and people, workers and other workers and local government and local communities. We believe that smaller production units in both State and private enterprise will produce happier industrial relations, which in turn will improve efficiency and productivity, even if in the short term it increases costs.
(j) Power in our democracy must be exercised so as to provide the greatest freedom for the individual compatible with the duties (not rights) that each individual has for another. We pledge ourselves to pray for government and to work always for peaceful change under respect for the law.
We call upon Christians to support national and local study groups in areas of socio-political action to inform, educate and equip Christians for active participation; in particular, we commend the work of the Shaftesbury Project in this field. Finally, we pledge ourselves to pray for government at all levels and for all who are involved in it.
THE POWER OF THE
In studying the mass media, we have become aware of three interrelated dimensions: one is the opportunity presented for human creativity, in artistic terms, to be conveyed to mass audiences; the second is the impact and possible effect of media output upon the minds and life styles of those on the receiving end of the process; the third is the element of economic and political power inherent in media institutions, which is not in itself unrelated to the finished product.
Structures of power
(a) We set the scene for the first two by first considering the last. Our social and political development has given rise to democratic traditions and the existence of a Press free (at least in theory) from the stultifying pressures of a totalitarian government if not from the forces of capitalism.
(b) Industrialised societies have come to express themselves through systems of mass production and mass distribution, leading to and providing for mass consumption. This fact affects not only consumer products but also many of those areas of life featuring the mass media. The danger of monopoly power is ever present in the modern world: it can spell trouble or even disaster for nations that succumb to it.
(c) In Britain, the concentration of media power 'is inhibited to a degree by the existence of two broadcasting authorities, together with a variety of newspaper empires, publishers, film makers and cinema chains. On this basis, it is hoped that neither government, ideology nor commerce can secure a stranglehold over basic freedoms. So far, we have avoided the extremes seen elsewhere, and for this we are profoundly thankful.
(d) Despite this, the battle for survival in the media world depends upon a sensitive relationship with two groups: customers and advertisers. Failure to satisfy either group leads to insolvency or the capacity to provide for only minority interests. In a world of fallen human beings, the temptation to survive by cutting corners, catering for the baser instincts and thus becoming locked in a downward spiral is ever present. A complicating factor arises in that it is precisely the profits made from such enterprises that are too often form the capital needed for the production of high-quality material. We recognise that any study of the decision procedures, the accountability, the power of the ratings and the influence of finance in the media must also include a critical look at the structure of our economic system.
(e) An alternative danger is for control to fall directly into government hands. In most countries, tight control is exercised either by government or by commerce, and really creative work is inhibited or forbidden. In Britain, we are fortunate in having generally escaped from such a fate though that is not to argue for media exemption from the laws inhibiting undue extremes. Freedom needs proper safeguards in order to survive.
Effects of the media
(a) For over a decade, a thoughtful debate has been conducted concerning the alleged impact and influence of the mass media upon attitudes and life styles. Certainly, a great change in these latter has taken place since the advent of almost-universal television since 1955. Some insist that the media have caused this, others that they merely reflect it. Most of us would agree that there is a shuttle process at work here and that the media frequently develop among mass consumers ideas originally floated by a very small group of opinion leaders. We support the view of the Church of England's report, Broadcasting, Society and the Church, that television, for instance, '"sets the agenda," creates stereotypes of people, and familiarises and establishes norms of conduct.' We believe that Christians must continue to question and sometimes to criticise those aspects of the media that fall into the trap of sensationalism, trivialisation and distortion and thereby diminish human beings and the ideals that have created much that is best in our national culture.
(b) We endorse the Annan Report's statement that whatever is published is presumed to be in some way approved, or at least condoned by the society which permits its publication' and that 'public opinion cannot be totally disregarded in the pursuit of liberty.' Thus, we believe that the power to create climates of opinion and to mould minds is concentrated in too few hands, and the, existence of commercial and ideological dominance groups is evident in all the media in Britain. Society does not always benefit from their use of such power, and the media are far too ready to bow to brief and fashionable influences, transient in time but not always in effect.
(c) We acknowledge that wide differences of belief and life style can coexist in a democratic society such as our own. Nevertheless, we believe it is both right and essential to set our faces against all that dehumanises men, women and children, and we therefore urge the media to set their goals in such a way as to ensure that they encourage not only the pursuit of legitimate material satisfactions but also the heroic and sacrificial instincts in both individuals and society. This means that the elements both of light and darkness, and of good and evil, in human nature are explored in such a way as to help mankind to understand and pursue the path to true maturity. As Christians, we believe that such a path is supremely traced in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
(d) For ourselves and our families, this requires a high degree of self-control in our use and appreciation of media products (which includes our stewardship of time, and money). For the media, it means a stronger commitment to the need for a more-careful and sensitive system of internal checks and balances, on the one hand, and a complaints procedure, on the other, that can command greater public confidence than has been the case in past years. We welcome recent advances in some areas of the media and also in advertising in these respects and encourage the appropriate authorities throughout the whole range of the mass media (including the BBC Governors and the 1BA) to exercise their authority more effectively.
(e) We cannot rest by considering media effects solely in terms of possible harm and damage. The nation is well-served by all branches of the media, which offer many instances of profoundly positive, life-enriching and entertaining productions. Most people would agree that the good far outweighs the bad in terms of quantity and that the bad has tended to be found in certain specific areas rather than in media output as a whole.
Creativity and its implications
(a) Western Europe has an immense heritage of cultural riches in the fields of music and drama, painting and sculpture and poetry and prose, including earthier traditions of humour and entertainment. Evangelical Christians can rejoice in this rich legacy and can also play their full part in its continuing creative development at all cultural levels in the media.
(b) The exploration of these areas by Christian artists (in the broadest sense) will almost certainly help positively to diminish our past tendency to view the media in an overcritical manner. Such men and women will themselves wish to set new standards through their work, and we view this prospect with real hopefulness. In particular, we believe it to be important for local churches to encourage the maturing of artistic skills among their members, especially those with a career still before them. As official patronage of the arts faces retrenchment, it is right for serious consideration to be given to the creation of a Christian trust aimed at subsidising young men and women of evident talent in their developing years. In times past, evangelicals provided for missionaries to enter foreign cultures; for the future, it may be important to employ the same principle in dealing with our commitment to training for involvement in the mass media.
(c) We urge local churches to explore the real openings for building community awareness and contributing to community life through local media, particularly local radio. This will involve developing positive relationships between church members and the local media and encouraging those members of local churches who spend time working in the media with prayer, personal support and possibly also finance.
(d) For such hopes to be realised, a new level of commitment will be needed for serious Christian thought. One immediate area requiring study is that of a theology of communication relating communication to theology. Another is the formulation of ethical guidelines for the evaluation of media procedures and products. A third must be the widespread education of Christian people in the field of mass media. There needs to be a real advance in our understanding of the distinctive disciplines that govern the different media before we can claim to have the right to offer informed criticism.
Religious broadcasting--a special note
(a) We are grateful for the many hundreds of hours of religious broadcasting provided free by both authorities. We welcome the considerable improvements that have taken place in the past decade in this field and would wish to record especial appreciation of the recently televised Jesus of Nazareth, produced by Franco Zeffirelli, for its attempt to portray 'faithfully the Jesus of the New Testament. Services of worship are also widely appreciated, and the informal explanation of basic Christian truths is a method we should wish to see greatly developed.
(b) We are not convinced, however, that sufficient care is taken to secure a balance of theological viewpoints or even to give evangelical exponents of Christianity a fair representation in specialist programing dealing with 'the critical approach to the Bible, historic Christian theology and questions of religion and morality, especially at more-serious levels.
(c) While we do not believe that radio and particularly television should normally be used as a pulpit for direct proclamation (except in the context of broadcast services), there are many possibilities for genuine creative initiatives by Christians that still remain unexplored.
(d) In view of the contribution of religious departments in the broadcasting services, we seriously question suggestions that their staff should be dispersed to other departments.
(a) As evangelicals, we have no cause for self-satisfaction with regard to our understanding of and commitment to the mass roedia. For far too long, we have failed to exercise a sympathetic appreciation of the pressures under which many individuals in the media are operating. We have been too quick to criticise harshly out of ignorance, and we acknowledge it to our shame.
(b) Ten years on, we are gladdened to see many Christian men and women heeding the Keele challenge to enter a career of wholehearted professionalism in the work of the mass media. May that process continue and accelerate to the glory of God.
THE LAW AND
A Christian view of law
(a) The State and secular law have a God-given part in preserving order and security (Rom 13:1-7). As Christians who are in the world though not 'of the world' (Jn 17:15-18), we are required to respect existing laws that do not conflict with our Christian duty (1 Pet 2:13-15 and Tit 3:1). However, secular law such as that made and enforced by the State is primarily necessary because Man does not naturally live in harmony with God and other Men. Secular law is itself defective; it is necessarily arbitrary. Often, it can offer a choice between only imperfect solutions to the problems with which it is intended to deal. It is our Christian responsibility to influence law so that it promotes social justice and allows people to hear the gospel and to live in as close a manner as possible to Christ and to one another and in conformity with God's moral law. We believe that an essential aim of law should be to ensure a proper freedom that gives every individual opportunity to believe and practise his faith. No law should put anyone in the position of compromising his Christian duty. There is a danger in looking for scriptural blueprints for modern secular law, but we believe that Christians firmly grounded in knowledge of the Bible and guided by the Holy Spirit should be making an important contribution to law reform.
(b) Although they should generally obey all existing laws, Christians should not support and may be called to oppose laws that seek to enforce particular behaviour. They are certainly called to oppose laws that hinder the spread of the gospel and prevent men and women living freely in a manner consistent with Christian principles. Such opposition may be required to forestall new laws and to ensure the repeal of such law if made. Because law does have a God-given though limited function, we look to the law to support Christian morality, but we recognise that its use must be limited in imposing Christian standards upon people, recognising that what is required is a change in Men's hearts that cannot be brought about by law.
(c) We deplore legislation that tends to trivialise the law as a whole and to render it incomprehensible. We are particularly concerned that such legislation makes it increasingly difficult to reach clear decisions as to where our Christian duty lies in many situations and prevents the firm enforcement of essential laws.
(d) We challenge Christian lawyers and others involved with law to maintain contact with one another so as to scrutinise and influence existing and proposed legislation giving full publicity to their considered views and drawing attention to areas of priority for Christian influence upon law reform. Such concern should extend to European Community legislation. We further challenge Christian lawyers to greater involvement in neighbourhood law centres and in other means of providing the deprived with legal assistance. We urge Christians in both Houses of Parliament, and especially the bishops, to demonstrate as forcefully as possible their Christian position, particularly with regard to proposed legislation. We challenge Christians to support--by informed prayer, information, advice and political action--all who are directly involved in the making and applying of the law.
The application of law to education
(a) Jesus warned that we have a particular responsibility to children (Mt 18:6), and it is therefore the duty of Christians to scrutinise the law controlling the education of children. This duty is particularly urgent now because of non-Christian pressure for changes in the educational system, and we think there is a case for extending the legal provisions for parent representation in schools through parent-teacher associations and the appointment of parent governors.
(b) It is not possible to deduce from the Bible any system of education that should be provided by law. There was frank recognition that Christians differ over the justification for comprehensive education and independent schools. Whatever the pattern existing at any times, Christians should be committed to making the best use of it and to improving it.
(c) As Christians, we should press the authorities to give priority to the use of national resources in schools, particularly for the benefit of deprived children, and we should encourage individuals to give their time and money to this end. We feel that study and research is needed on the educational implications of new legislation.
(d) In regard to religious education, some felt it should be biblical in character, while others wished for a broader definition, believing that it is valuable for all children to have the opportunity of learning about the different faiths, but that, 'for historical, practical as well as educational reasons, Christianity should continue to be central. While there were divergent views about the place of compulsory RE in the curriculum, many thought that it should be retained as one of a number of core subjects.
(e) Whatever the status of RE in the curriculum, it is the responsibility of churches greatly to improve their programmes of Christian teaching.
(f) There is a division of opinion on the value of school assemblies. Where worship is conducted in school assemblies and purports to be Christian, it should be genuinely Christian in content.
(g) We wish to see any sex education in the school curriculum placed within the context of marriage and the family,
(a) The current 'Great Debate' focuses attention justifiably on the needs of industry in our society,, but these needs must not be allowed to determine the direction of the school curriculum. We call on Christians to affirm that schools are not assembly lines but communities in which children develop in a context of discipline, order and individual care. Adequate place must be given in a 'core curriculum' to the consideration of moral, aesthetic and religious values. We endorse the need for Christians to do all they can to raise the status of RE and the quality of its teaching but urge Christians also to challenge the secularist dominance in other academic disciplines and to work towards educational structures and policies (the 'hidden curriculum') that reflect a Christian view of Man. In particular, we are anxious to see Christian principles asserted with regard to economic, sexual and family responsibilities.
(b) We urge Christians to consider carefully whether God wants them to take up a career in education and to consider the schools and areas in which Christian teachers are most needed.
(c) We urge the church to retain its responsibilities in church schools and to take all steps to make them. reflect more accurately their Christian basis. There was disagreement as to church colleges, some wishing to direct the funds to local church-based Christian education programmes; others would retain the colleges, provided they were true to their Christian foundations.
(d) We urge Christians in general to consider undertaking service as school governors/managers or in parent-teacher associations or in local government as elected representatives or administrators.
(e) We urge local churches to set up groups for prayer and study about these matters and to initiate development in the educational system, both locally and nationally.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Marriage and God's purpose
We affirm, as the church in every age has done, that marriage, as the lifelong partnership of a man and a woman, is fundamental to God's purpose for the whole of society. It meets the physical and emotional needs of individuals made in God's image and affords a stable environment for the birth and upbringing of children. This most-welcome gift of God has an abiding strength and continuity that will outlast the ebb and flow of cultural change, yet it demands fresh appropriation within the cultural terms of each new generation. Sexual union and the marriage covenant belong together; the one is the appropriate expression of the love involved in the other. The tendency of modern society to separate them--in promiscuity, group sex and other experimental patterns--is one to be opposed at every point.
The calling to a single life
Together with marriage, we affirm afresh the calling of God, given to some, to live singly. This is not a sign of personal failure, nor need it lead to dissatisfaction; on the contrary, the single person can enjoy a rich and fulfilled life in God's purposes, yet there are special needs attaching to this state that can be met by a caring church fellowship.
We recognise the growing problem of homosexuality and our need for a better-informed understanding of this condition. There should be a full welcoming place in the Christian fellowship for the Christian homosexual. Nevertheless, we believe homosexual intercourse to be contrary to God's law and not a true expression of human sexuality as he has given it. More thought needs to be given to the pastoral care appropriate to those with this particular need.
Marriage and family life are connected in God's purpose; however, not all couples can have children, and some may have sufficient reason to contemplate a deliberately childless marriage, yet we believe that the desire to be married should normally imply the willingness to be parents. Some couples are daunted by the responsibilities and problems of family life today. The churches have the duty to re-emphasise the joyful and fulfilling nature of parenthood and to offer greater help and guidance to parents in the upbringing of their children, emphasising the complementary roles of father and mother. One-parent families have particular need of support, both material and emotional, from other Christians. Grandparents and other close relatives have an important part to play in the life, of a family. Discipline, as well as affection, is integral to children's growth and development.
Because marriage is intended by God to last until one partner dies, the dramatic increase in marital breakdown ' among Christians as well as among others, should lead the church to self-examination, repentance and new action. Teaching and preaching about Christian marriage should have an important place in the ministry of every congregation, and we should be searching for ways to help and support couples before and throughout their married life not only in times of stress but also as a matter of course. In this pastoral work, it should be other Christians in addition to the clergy who are using their gifts in teaching, counselling and friendship.
Divorce and remarriage
Christians are still divided about the validity of divorce and remarriage in extreme circumstances, and there are among us those who, on biblical grounds, hold that marriage is indissoluble. The majority of us believe, also on biblical grounds however, that divorce, although always hurtful to God, may sometimes be the only way forward in the situation that human sin and failure have created. On the question of whether the remarriage of divorced persons should take place in church, a majority of us are in favour of this for those who have truly repented of their past failure. We would strongly oppose, however, indiscriminate remarriage and would urge that the painful and delicate task of discerning between the acceptable and the unacceptable request should not be left to the'unaided discretion of the parish priest.
The differing roles of men and women
We welcome the concern of many in our generation to free men and women from sex-role patterns that are outdated but believe that this concern must be founded on the conviction that God has created the two sexes to be different from each other and to complement each other. The equal dignity of men and women must be recognised socially and economically, yet there could and should never be an abandonment of the family structure or a disparagement of the supremely important work done by women simply as wives and mothers.
Abortion and sex education
Many features in contemporary society make the task of Christian family life more difficult; in particular, we mention the relaxing of Britain's abortion laws. Both medical and biblical considerations point to a view of the unborn child as an individual human being. Therefore abortion, though justifiable in certain circumstances, is to be viewed as analogous to homicide. We are also concerned that any teaching given in schools about sex should place it within the context of marriage and the family.
RESPONSIBILITY IN MISSION--I
THE GOSPEL IN A
A pluralistic society
We gladly accept that the United Kingdom is and will remain a pluralistic society, with a variety of groups and subgroups having differences in appearance and customs. We long for a church that is enriched in its life by the varieties of cultures and races.
We are committed by God to the pursuit of a just and free society. Discrimination against racial or cultural minorities is an offence against God as well as against the minority concerned. We repent of our serious sinfulness in this respect. We recognise that we are conditioned by a history of domination and our cultural and class backgrounds; this has led to superficial and judgmental attitudes one to another on the basis of colour, accent, clothes, appearance and customs. Prejudice and fear spring largely from ignorance, and there is need of a widespread programme of education and training.
Equality of opportunity
There needs to be practical equality of opportunity in the realm of employment, housing and education, and Christians should show a passionate concern for those who start from a position of disadvantage and deprivation. We believe that the law has a valuable function in safeguarding the rights of minorities and in redressing injustice. While we recognise the need for immigration law, it is essential that it be just and that it exclude any element of racial discrimination.
We rejoice in our national tradition of religious freedom and tolerance, for the Bible makes plain that God has given to people the precious gift of choice. We do not wish to lose this freedom for ourselves or to deny it to others; on the contrary, we believe that respect for others includes respect for their culture even when it is alien to us and their beliefs even when we judge those to be wrong. Accordingly, we are anxious to safeguard the rights, of those of other faiths to meet for worship, to express their beliefs in their life in Britain and to receive consideration in education. We believe that it is valuable for all children of an appropriate age to have the opportunity of learning about the different faiths, but that, for historical, practical as well as educational reasons, Christianity should continue to be central. The presence of children of different, religious backgrounds does not diminish the importance of religious education but enhances the need for good teaching.
We long to see churches developing that are culturally, racially and socially mixed and that are evidence of the power of Christ to reconcile, through his Cross, people of all kinds to each other and to God. We believe that, for this to happen, Christians throughout Britain need to accept their responsibility towards the multiracial communities of our country. The result of such a concern will be a desire to understand, to support and to pray for churches in these areas. Some Christians will be called to move to join such churches and to share in the life of the multiracial communities. Where there are black-led churches and other churches from minority racial groups, we understand the reasons for their existence and positively seek opportunities for worship and witness together with them.
Service and sensitivity
Multiracial churches need to be marked, as do churches everywhere, by loving service and a sensitive proclamation of the good news about Jesus. That will include involvement in the Community in playgroups, language classes, education and public affairs. It will include opportunity for Christians of different cultures to express themselves in worship and church life in their own style. It is essential that the whole church, in an attitude of humble, sacrificial love, should share Christ in a way that can be understood and received by others.
RESPONSIBILITY IN MISSION--II
THE GOSPEL IN URBAN AREAS
This Congress regrets the way in which the church has not identified with the socially needy, powerless and underprivileged in our urban, inner-city, industrial and many new housing areas and is associated more with the 'haves' than the 'have-nots' of society. This is a failure to follow the example of our Lord himself and constitutes disobedience to him. The result of this disobedience is that the church is not reaching or ministering effectively to an increasing majority of the population, who regard the church as 'them' rather than 'us.'
We call upon the church to repent of this disobedience and to return to the example of Jesus in identifying with those who are underprivileged and socially disadvantaged by reason of culture and, background. We must do more to understand the needs and characteristics of urban life and working-class culture.
At Keele (Statement No 37), we admitted that: 'The missionary situation in many parts of Britain, particularly in industrial inner-city and new housing areas calls for special action. We have to admit to our shame that the church has so far failed in these areas.' Then, we thought that our failure was one solely of communication; ten years later, we realise that our failure is more basic than that. We must think again about what the gospel is to a person of working-class culture living in an urban area. We must 'put flesh' on the facts of the gospel and make Jesus real to the inner-city man. Reality for the working-class man must be something personal, and our gospel in the city must be to proclaim that God has met us personally in the real man--his Son Jesus Christ. We need also to see and to act upon the fact that our message is not just for Man as an individual. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for the whole of the universe, for the society of Men, for the structures of his living, for all of his relationships and for Man's wholeness, both personally and socially.
We need to encourage such forms of worship and church activity as will help Christians in urban areas to grow to maturity within their culture.
RESPONSIBILITY IN MISSION--III
THE GOSPEL IN
Teaching on mission
We welcome the increasing recognition by the church in this country that it is in a missionary situation. This makes it all the more necessary to teach that ours must always be an international faith. The biblical basis and the practical demands of world mission need to be taught both in theological training and in the regular programme of the local church.
Learning from other churches
The church in this country needs to share the spiritual resources of sister churches overseas. We must learn from churches whose spiritual life is sometimes deeper and whose evangelism or training is more effective than our own. We are inspired by many an example of courageous Christian witness, especially that of Janani Luwum. We need the ministry of gifted Christians visiting us from all parts of the world. Our failure to take seriously the role of overseas churches in our own life is shown by the fact that very few English dioceses are planning 'Partners in Mission' consultations. We recommend that plans for such consultations be put in hand before 'Lambeth 1978.'
Sharing in mission
Our sister churches continue to call for our help. There is a need for a large number of British Christians to be involved with them in evangelism, church planting and leadership training, as well as in sharing development expertise. The sharing of skills as the servants of the overseas church is an essential part of our global stewardship. We also have a continuing responsibility in concern and prayer for churches where missionaries are no longer requested or permitted. Our greater involvement in Europe should result in a growing partnership in mission with churches on the continent. In spite of the economic situation in Britain, we need to increase rather than to diminish financial help to churches in the third world, whose economic difficulties are so much greater than our own.
a worldwide task
This Congress reaffirms that Christian mission is a worldwide task and that our primary duty as stewards of God's grace is to proclaim Christ, relating him to all forms of human need. Only through him can Men, marred by the fall, be radically and permanently changed and receive eternal life. The Great Commission gives global responsibilities to all churches at all times and at all stages of their development.
Stewardship of the world's harvest
We acknowledge that Men are stewards of God's creation and that Christians share in a special way the responsibility for its proper use, for achieving an optimum harvest of the world's resources and for ensuring its efficient management and fair distribution to all mankind.
We recognise that law is God's provision to Man in his weakness to promote justice and righteousness and ensure social cohesion in and between human groupings. In this respect, we are alarmed at the denial of basic human rights and dignity and the abuse of the rule of law in an increasing number of nations. We urge the UK Government and all other governments to press for the implementation of the UN Covenants on Human Rights. Use may property be made of trade restrictions in this respect.
Official Government aid
We ask the Government to set a date for the implementation of the United Nations target for official aid of 0.7% of the GNP. We deplore the fact that the British aid programme has been declining as a proportion of the GNP and is now under 0.4%.
We call upon the developed nations to take far more seriously the situation in many developing nations. We suggest that government development programmes be channelled, where possible, through licensed development agencies (as is the Dutch practice), thus ensuring that a higher proportion of resources reach those in most need. We believe that a growing and witnessing church will bring economic benefits to any country, as Christians of integrity play an active part in the life of society and in the administration of development programmes.
We recognise that private capital is also a source of development finance, and we recognise the work of Christian and other agencies (TEAR Fund, Christian Aid, etc.). We call upon the multinational corporations, with their resources that are often larger than those of many governments, likewise to take far more seriously and responsibly the needs of the third world, and we ask them to utilise their capital, facilities, expertise and manpower in ways that are both acceptable by and beneficial to the developing nations.
We recognise that, from those to whom much is given, much is required. To this end, we urge Christians and churches to re-examine the direction of their expenditure. We consider the principle of tithing to be of vital importance.
We suggest that HM Treasury consider seriously the recommendations of the Goodman Commission and reexamine the possibility of personal tax concession, which would stimulate and encourage a much higher level of contributions to aid agencies, churches, missionary societies and other charities.
To counteract continued greed and selfishness between and within both richer and poorer countries, which exacerbates the 'poverty gap,' tariffs, quotas and other barriers to imports of goods and services from developing nations should be phased out by 1980, when the Lome agreement is due to be renegotiated; this will help to ensure a fairer trading system. We recognise that this could seriously affect employment in this country, and we ask our Government to work out fair adjustment-assistance programmes for those industries directly affected.
Simple life styles
We reject the overemphasis on material well-being as the goal of human achievement and commend to Christian families and churches the pursuit of a simple life style that demonstrates a joyful sharing of material and spiritual resources, on the principle that our abundance is for the benefit of others. We call for national and local study groups to suggest guidelines.
We urge Christians to become better informed about and involved politically in world issues. Among the most pressing are: the population problem, arms trading, conservation of resources, pollution, the uncertainties of nuclear technology, unemployment, malnutrition, the persecution of minorities, terrorism and the balance of power. Christians have a responsibility to speak out on injustice within and among the nations, either as individuals or through well-informed pressure groups, working where necessary for the reform of structures and institutions.
DECLARATIONS OF INTENT
We have met together in the name of Jesus Christ at the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Nottingham. We thank God for our evangelical heritage in the Church of England. Today, we reaffirm Christ's Lordship over our lives and therefore commit ourselves to the following particular Declarations of Intent.*
- We bind ourselves to proclaim, explore and defend against current misconceptions the biblical faith in the deity of Jesus Christ and in his role as the only Saviour of Men through his death in our place and his risen life.
- We acknowledge that our handling of inspired and authoritative Scripture has often been clumsy and our interpretation of it shoddy, and we resolve to seek a more-disciplined understanding of God's holy Word.
- Rejoicing in the grace and gifts of God that charismatic and 'non-charismatic' evangelicals find in each other, we pledge ourselves to work with and learn from each other in mutual trust and common dependence on the Holy Spirit.
- In grief that we find ourselves at a distance from our evangelical brothers in other denominations, we undertake to seek closer fellowship and cooperation with them in informal consultation, in shared worship and in united outreach.
- We recognise that all members of the body of Christ depend upon each other's ministry, and we pledge ourselves to seek ways of making this fellowship more effective in all our churches.
- We reaffirm our commitment to the goal of visible unity in Christ's Church and declare our conviction that the starting point of visible unity is a common confession of faith in Christ, leading on to the fellowship of congregations at the Lord's table.
- Deeply regretting past attitudes of indifference and ill will towards Roman Catholics, we renew our commitment to seek with them the truth of God and the unity he wills, in obedience to our common Lord on the basis of Scripture.
- We repent of our lack of urgency in mission I and resolve with God's help to establish as the priority in all our churches the task of making Christ fully known.
- We repent that we have been backward in facing issues of social responsibility and in accepting social and political involvement in obedience to Christ, and we acknowledge that we have a duty to take action in our local situations for the well-being of our neighbour and against all that is unjust, dehumanising, sub-Christian and dishonouring to God.
- Because we have often been ignorant and ill-informed Christians through neglect of study, we commit ourselves to develop realistic programmes of Christian learning as a regular part of the life of all our churches.
- We repent of the narrowness of our Christian interest and vision, and we undertake to maintain informed and active concern for the worldwide spread of the gospel, for the stewardship of the world's resources and for the cause of welfare and justice among all men.
- We admit that we have often tolerated low standards in our worship and apathy in our spiritual life, and we pledge ourselves by prayer and action to seek renewal in our local churches.
*The twelve Declarations of Intent, prepared by the Statement Steering Committee, were solemnly adopted by the Congress with virtual unanunzy at thefinal plenag session on 18 April.