What is going on with the CofE?
My early Christian influence was with the Plymouth Brethren. They were not keen on any church that was not a PB assembly and while not as high on their antipathy list as RCs, CofE was still high up.
The issue that got many of my PB mentors riled was lack of doctrinal soundness and CofE (the leading branch of worldwide Anglicanism) did not cut the soundness mustard. When I went to university, I decided to join the Christian Union. Much to my surprise, most of the CU committee were Anglicans. In my three years at uni, I became friends with a number of Anglican Christians. We did outreaches together and shared in prayer meetings and Bible studies. I even got willingly dragged along to two bastions of evangelical Anglicanism, All Souls and St. Helens, and read Christian literature by popular Anglican authors, like John Stott, Michael Green and Jim Packer, all of which duly impressed me.
I soon learned there were three branches of Anglicanism: High Church (Anglo-Catholics), Broad Church (Liberals) and Low Church (Evangelicals) and came to a view the good guys were the Evangelicals. From student days onwards, I frequently rubbed shoulders with Anglicans. I even found the time of day for some liberals and Anglo-Catholics – the Liberals often “got” social justice and what was needed for community activism and the Anglo-Catholics often has a high view of God, often missing elsewhere (one of my Christmas highlights was attending midnight mass at my local high CofE church). In recent years I was invited by an Anglican vicar friend to manage a homeless night shelter ran from his church, where one feature was an invitation to pray with / for the guests!
As for controversy, the CofE has been riddled with it, long before I came on the scene. I remember one lecturer when I did an OU module on Victorian religion comment three days of the week the Liberals and Catholics ganged up against Evangelicals and on the other three (presumably Sunday was a rest day) the Liberals and Evangelicals ganged up against the Catholics. An argument can be made of Evangelicals and Catholics ganging up against Liberals as they got sucked unto ditching past certainties of the faith.
Some have come to see too many instances of the unchecked error / apostasy in Anglicanism and decided to leave, while others have remained, believing they would do more good staying in than coming out. There have long been tensions between these three, often overlapping strands of Anglican thought. The miracle is those in the Anglican communion have generally come to a compromise, allowing for differences and coming up with fudges such that those who ditch traditional church teaching are able to continue and those who believe such teaching is essential can also continue.
That is until recently, when some sections of the Anglican communion, led by some of the African clergy have effectively excommunicated their USA brethren along with their openly gay clergy (reference this statement by the current Archbishop of Uganda). When members of a chat group comprising earnest Christians got on their holy high horses over the present CofE going even softer concerning LBGT matters and advocating gender neutral pronouns, going along with cultural norms, it seemed to me a case of déjà vu and sadly it is these errors that don’t affect them and not others (such as CofE’s Archbishop Selby telling us it is our Christian duty to get jabbed against Covid) that got my friends rattled.
I wanted to keep this short, so time to wrap up. As I am not an Anglican and still have some of that early antipathy toward any Christian group that does not go along with my understanding of the Word and how to apply it to the issues of that day, I feel I have said enough. What I do believe in is the Church (a much more important subject) as opposed to the church (a subject for a future blog methinks) and to play my part in encouraging real Christians.