Why is it worth fighting to reform the C of E ?
I won’t say “it’s the best boat to fish from.” There are many ways to be “fishers of men” today, and we need more labourers for the harvest regardless of which denomination they serve in.
Yet, the Church of England has an honoured history as an instrument for spiritual conversion and growth in our nation. It was through a Reformed established church that we were saved from superstition and the false doctrines of Roman Catholicism at the Reformation. It was through the national church and the parochial system in the 16th and 17th centuries that the Puritans sought to reach the dark corners of the land for Christ. When we were blessed with revivals in the 18th century it was through the preaching of Anglican clergymen like Wesley, Whitefield, Toplady, Hervey, and Romaine. In the nineteenth century, it was the Anglican expression of Christian faith which we exported to the world through the channels of empire and it was ably defended by men like Shaftesbury and Ryle. In the twentieth century it was the good old C of E which gave us John Stott, Jim Packer, Dick Lucas, and a number of the country’s finest preachers, pastors, and theologians today.
The official doctrinal standards of our denomination remain Reformed and Evangelical to the core, and the Queen swore to maintain “the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion.” What will all these great servants of the word say to us in glory, if our generation fails to fight for what they handed on to us? The Church of England today is a serviceable, if somewhat leaky, vessel, and it would be negligent of us to simply abandon it to the enemies of the gospel which has always been its greatest strength.
There’s nothing wrong with starting new things from scratch, necessarily. But I believe God is greatly glorified through reformation and transformation, and his grace is seen to be at work where this has taken place in the past.
Where there is death and decay, the Father can bring new life.
Where there is corruption, the Lord Jesus can bring health and soundness.
Where there is heresy and apostasy, the Spirit can convict and convert through his powerful word.
They will be glorified should England turn back to the truth and again enjoy his blessing. So for the glory of God and the good of England, it is worth fighting to renew the Church of England as an instrument for God’s purposes.