A formerly respected Anglican evangelical theological college has been captured by conservative extremists. Wycliffe Hall in Oxford now has a principal, Richard Turnbull, who believes that 95% of the British popoulation is going to hell and a vice-principal who won’t allow women to teach men in church. As Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian:
“Of course, what should really happen is that the bishops of the Church of England stop using colleges like this to train its priests. Places such as Wycliffe are turning Anglicanism into a cult. But it’s a symptom of how bad things are in the C of E, and how frightened its bishops have become of the financial muscle of conservative evangelicals, that they won’t find the gumption to cut Wycliffe adrift.”
I agree. The Church of England has let conservative theology drive its agenda for too long. An approach to the Bible and the faith which is basically fundamentalist and anti-intellectual has gone unchallenged. The Church of England is becoming a cult – retreating from the findings of modern science and cultural development and hiding behind a wall of false certainty based on a default literalism about the Bible and faith. Most sermons I hear outside my own parish are implicitly fundamentalist. It’s as if the explosion in human knowledge of the last two centuries, including all we know about the origins and history of Christianity, never happened.
Christians who care about this need to work harder to persuade and inpire others that there are ways of being faithful to Christ which can constructively value and engage with modern culture.