Canal, river or rapids? Which are you?

There is concern over whether Neac 5 really represents evangelicals in all their diversity. So what kind of water do you think they will be swimming in as they amerce themselves in the 'living streams'?

I suspect it's 'canal' like for the most-part, considering the range of people it is drawing on, sadly, there are no ordained women speakers.

With which waters does your thinking flow?

Canon Dr Graham Kings uses 'the metaphor of the movement of water in different watercourses: canal, river and rapids. It seems to me that our Evangelical Anglican identity is one but that we have three theological shapes within it: conservative, open and Charismatic.

... it is perfectly possible to be in more than one course at a time, and at different times...

Canal: conservative Evangelicals
CONSERVATIVE Evangelicals claim the concepts of infallibility or inerrancy in their doctrine of scripture. While taking hermeneutics seriously, many worry that it may distract from this emphasis.

Conservative Evangelicals are committed to:
• the infallibility or inerrancy of the scriptures;
• penal substitution as the defining model for the atonement;
• evangelism as the defining mode of mission;
• headship in gender issues;
• combating the promotion of homosexuality.

They are open to:
• hermeneutical insights (particularly from Evangelicals);
• church-planting across parish boundaries (even without permission);
• working with conservative Evangelicals in other denominations;
• the use of non-liturgical worship.

River: open Evangelicals
THE CANAL is direct, and its channel is blasted through obstacles. The river meanders round things in its path. This may be applied to the importance “open Evangelicals” give to hermeneutics in their doctrine of the scriptures....Rivers take circuitous courses, have turbulent currents, and need more navigation than the canals. Open Evangelicals are committed to:
• the intrinsic authority and trustworthiness of the Bible (which is to be interpreted in context and with insights from the worldwide Church);
• the longing for conversion to Jesus Christ of all people (from other faiths and none);
• working for renewal within the structures of Anglicanism (at local, national and international levels).

They are open to:
• surprises of the Holy Spirit (in the Charismatic movement);
• learning from other traditions (within Anglicanism);
• working ecumenically (with other denominations);
• positive fruit of biblical scholarship (which builds up the body of Christ);
• issues of justice (which are integral to holistic mission);
• significance of the sacraments and liturgy (which embody regular worship);
• learning from other faiths (dialogue as well as proclamation);
• ordination of women (to the three orders of the Church).

Rapids: Charismatic Evangelicals
...For them, the Spirit opens the truth of God in scripture with a focus on listening. This Spirit-filled listening can top up conservative Evangelicalism with the Spirit, or deepen the river of open Evangelicalism.

They are committed to:
• the dynamic authority and trustworthiness of the Bible (often interpreted in the context of Spirit-filled “listening”);
• mission in the power of the Spirit (which includes “signs and wonders”);
• the exercise of spiritual gifts in church (including tongues, prophecy and healing).

They are open to:
• sharing conferences and celebrations with other denominations, including Roman Catholics;
• the ministry of women at differing levels of leadership;
• the advantages of modern media for presentation and publicity;
• the reality of possession, and oppression, by evil spirits;
• worldwide pentecostal and charismatic movements;
• the importance of the communal aspect of being Church;
• explorations of creative, alternative worship.

Warning signs?

Leadership models in the canal may be in danger of being authoritarian; in the river of being bureaucratic; and in the rapids of being superspiritual.

Conservatives and Charismatics should be careful not to define themselves too narrowly; open Evangelicals may define themselves too broadly.

In the canal, extremists may need to guard against doctrinal snobbery
In the river against academic snobbery
In the rapids against spiritual snobbery.


Pilgrim said...

All rivers run to the sea, Rachel. Canals are man made (yes, man, though there may have been some woman navvies on the digging crews) but even they eventually run to the sea.

That's where I am: out on the open sea. Yes, I'm thrown about by the wind and waves — it's not a safe place to be. But who said following Jesus was safe? He's having a kip down the back somewhere, I think. Fell asleep during the sermon...

Rachel said...

Hi Pilgrim
Neatly put - I like your thinking here - makes me think!
love Rachel


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