– Reform Update
A very depressed Mr. Lawrence of Bromley wrote to the Church of England Newspaper a couple of months ago complaining at the inactivity and silence of evangelical leaders and institutions in the face of the campaign for the ordination of practising homosexuals. “Where is the voice of protest….where is the Christian voice celebrating and commending marriage, let alone Christian marriage? Are our evangelical leaders and bishops so unhappily married they have nothing personally to talk positively about?” Mr. Lawrence asked. Then this: “The only place for ordinary church members like me to run to is right-wing bodies like Reform. Is this what our Anglican bishops want to see happening? Let us see some real leadership from them at last.”
Since Reform’s is the only voice consistently to uphold biblical and evangelical truth over the last three years in the vacuum of deafening silence from the rest of the evangelical constituency, it seems a little tough to be labelled with a pejorative political sobriquet. Right wing? Well, where in heaven’s name is the left-wing, Mr. Lawrence?
One element of it, by its own definition, is in Guildford in the person of John Gladwin, bishop of that See, who will have even further outraged Mr. Lawrence by accepting an invitation to preach at the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in November in Southwark Cathedral. Formerly head of the Church’s Board for Social Responsibility, Bishop Gladwin has thus publicly allied himself with a group that promotes immorality and has been involved in blasphemy. The minute the bishop went public on his acceptance, Reform spoke out with a press release headlined “Reform Deplores Evangelical Bishop Preaching at Gay Service.” We asked him to withdraw his acceptance of the invitation to preach. Reform warned when it came into being three years ago that, although it was unpopular then because it protested against the handling of the Bible that allowed evangelicals to support women’s ordination, the homosexuality issue would cause that debate to fade quickly.
So it has proved, and via Bishop Gladwin and the Bishop of Southwark, Roy Williamson, some kind of critical watershed is being reached. Would any bookmaker in days long ago have offered odds as long as 10,000 to 1 on a London City Mission evangelist and a lecturer at a premier evangelical theological college heading the Gadarene rush to legitimise gay sex among clergy and laity? The bishops out of evangelical stables who assured us that when it came to homosexuality, their fabled collegiality would come unglued, must be trembling in palaces and mansions in Chester, Southwell, Rochester to name but three who appeared with Bishop Gladwin at the Evangelical Anglican Leaders’ Conference this year. What will they say, and when, and will they say it together, or will one have to be given the God-given courage to say it for the rest?
Mr. Lawrence … are you still out there? Why be alone, though, any longer” Reform is not monochrome, neither ecclesiastically nor politically. We cover the spectrum. Isn’t it time you and the thousands like you in evangelical parishes up and down the country looked reality in the face? These leaders won’t say what you want because they can’t. While they keep their silence, Reform speaks. And while it speaks, more and more ordinary Christians in parishes are rallying to the cause which is, and always has been among biblical evangelicals in the Church of England down the centuries, the one on which we can and must unite: “our overall aim is to win the nation for Christ.” So run, Mr. Lawrence, run north to Sheffield, cheek us out via the new video,, and join Reform. A very warm welcome awaits you!