N.T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham and renowned theologian, has severely criticised 'A Covenant for the Church of England', a new document which ostensibly sets out to affirm a conservative, evangelical/charismatic free-church inspired movement within the Anglican tradition. Here's an excerpt:
Not least, it should be said, in that the document is a slipshod piece of work simply at the drafting level; I have been assured that it took a year to write, but it reads as though someone put it together hastily on the back of a few envelopes, and didn't trouble to stand back and reflect on it.
Fans of Wright know that he is hardly one to fight against church planting or renewal of any kind. However it appears that those behind this 'covenant' are not in step with much of the theological renewal which has been going on with and without the Anglican communion. This whole affair to me seems very much relating to ongoing disputes within the body of Christ at large. There seems to be an increasing amount of in-fighting, rebuking and general disturbance throughout the Western church. Over the past few weeks we have had names like Wright, Driscoll, Piper, Grudem, McLaren and MacArthur popping up over the blogosphere as each one either receives or hands out rebuke. What on earth is happening to the Church? Personally I think we are in a time of great transition...and not everyone is liking it.
So what are the areas of contention? The hot issues seem to be:
- homosexuality. In Anglican circles the question is whether a gay man or lesbian women can serve as a minister or bishop. In other circles the question is to how homosexuality is approached by the church, both theological and practically. And in some Emergent circles, the topic is avoided altogether, due to concern over offending gays and lesbians.
(For those that don't have the luxury of holding out on a theological position on homsexuality, this emergent blogger gives his own personal reflection, which according to Andrew Jones, is probably what many in the emerging church believe.)
- egalitarianism vs complementarism. Wayne Grudem has recently come under heavy fire on the blogosphere for alleged theological flaws in his defense of the traditional view. This is just one mini-debate out of thousands which are currently playing out in this arena. (From an outsider's POV, it looks like Grudem is losing this particular skirmish at Better Bibles)
- emerging/Emergent church. John MacAruthur has recently blasted both Driscoll and the entire emerging church. Driscoll is blasted because he speaks in the vernacular, rather than in the language of 'polite society'. Whatever.
I'm not sure if Wright's rebuke fits neatly into any of the above categories, but a quick reading through his posting shows all of the above issues lurking under the surface.
Goto Tall Skinny Kiwi's blog for more.