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FCA2009: Secularism, Compromise and Syncretism Condemned by Bishop Nazir Ali

FCA2009: Secularism, Compromise and Syncretism Condemned by Bishop Nazir Ali
Legislation in England leaves no room for Conscience

By David W. Virtue in London

The evangelical Bishop of Rochester, The Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir Ali told 1,700 orthodox Anglicans at a closing Eucharist sermon of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans that a programmatic secularism, a particularly aggressive form of secularism, now occupies the public space, leaving no room for conscience.

The soon to step down Bishop of Rochester said that there a more insidious kind of secularism exists -- a procedural secularism that parliament is legislating. It allows different faiths to come to the table, but works on secular assumptions thus marginalizing all faiths. The nation is operating in a spiritual and moral vacuum.

'As Christians we cannot accept that. We believe the truth and people flourish as we rely on God's revelation.'

The bishop decried the captivity to culture. "British Christians are not aware of the seductive power of culture and they daily capitulate to mass media." He also identified compromise as a great danger. "This will not be a sudden demise but death by a 1000 cuts. We are seeing a gradual erosion of gospel faith and Christian values even in the churches."

"There is something in our temperaments that wants to compromise. There is an instinct to keep the peace and while that is admirable it can lead to compromise.

"The third aspect of syncretism is the confusion in people minds and their loves. People make up their own spiritual pick and mix and this confusion is found everywhere. We must respect people of other faiths and understand what they believe. We must join with them and seek the common good. But if we abandon the uniqueness of God's revelation in Jesus Christ we have lost our advantage and we will be cut adrift. We know what is true and what is not."

Addressing the thorny issue of sexuality, Nazir Ali said that in every age and culture, there is a particular danger that confronts the church. "This is the question facing the churches of the Western world. They have become promiscuously sexualized. The patterns of our lives are ruled by this sexualization. Everywhere we look we cannot escape it."

"We must emphasize the teaching of the Bible that God has made man and woman in His own image and given them a common task. Jesus affirmed marriage and he went back to the creation ordinance. Paul in his teaching (Ephesians Ch. 5) says marriage is a sacrament (mysterion) of the relationship between Christ and his church."

Addressing the growing Islamicization of England, Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan from a Muslim background, said the Bible is not like the Koran. "Muslims believe that in the Koran, God gives direct revelation without human intervention. This is not what the Bible is like. The Bible has been written by many authors in particular contexts. However it is also the Word of God where God addresses us directly. We must affirm by the unity of Scripture and also its clarity and authority. We must study the bible but the simplest person can read the bible sand know God's purpose for him and her. We also affirm the plenary inspiration of the scriptures. All scripture is inspired by God, it is both inspired and it is inspiring."

Nazir-Ali said he was delighted for the advent of FCA. "The coming together has been beneficial. Many have asked what is there after GAFCON. What is next? This is next. This is not only a coming together it is also a conferring together."

Addressing complex issues of identity and ecumenicity, Nazir Ali said there will have to be self denying ordinances. Evangelicals, Charismatics and Anglo-Catholics will have to be put aside some of their differences. There must be an active task of collaboration to support each others' ministries.


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