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A Vision for England

The Church in England must once again be a beacon by which the people of England can orient themselves in an unknown ocean by offering them the Good News of God in Christ in practical and relevant way to their daily lives. Having shed an empire and lost a missionary zeal, has this great nation, and mother of parliamentary democracy, also lost a noble vision for the future?

We are getting richer and richer as a nation, but less and less happy. The Church in England must rediscover her self-confidence and self-esteem that united and energised the English people those many centuries ago when the disparate fighting groups embraced the Gospel.

The Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History tells not only of how the English were converted, but how that corporate-discipleship, the Church, played a major socialising and civilising role by uniting the English and conferring nationhood on them.

The history of the See - or Diocese - of York tells a wonderful story of York's part in the conversion and civilisation of the English. In 627 Paulinus converts the King of Northumbria, Edwin, and baptises him on Easter Day. Paulinus is allowed to build a little wooden church, the first church on the site of this Minster. And it wasn't easy country. The Venerable Bede tells us that there were villages in these mountains and forests rarely visited by a Christian minister. The first three archbishops were driven out because of war and revolution.

But the small band of Christians, like a tiny acorn, courageously stood their ground. Aidan, a monk from the monastery in Iona, came to the rescue, and extended the Christian presence in the north of England, which radically transformed the existing social order as well as in the South.

There is a cost to discipleship. The first disciples leave everything to follow Jesus. Yet discipleship is also an invitation to the strongest hope, the deepest joy, the greatest fulfilment, the most authentic pattern of living, the highest adventure known to humanity. The call of Jesus is to have life in all its fullness (John 10.10).

 

On Rock or Sand

In 2015, I edited 'On Rock or Sand? Firm foundations for Britain’s future' as published by SPCK.  The book sets out to assess and reset the terms of the debate about the kind of nation we want to be. It addresses crucial questions about the moral principles that undergird the way Britain is governed.  The book explores what values can the Christian faith bring to the table to help address the problems we face today with chapters by expert economic, political, religious and social thinkers, including contributions by Lord Adonis, Sir Philip Mawer, Oliver O’Donovan, Andrew Sentance, Julia Unwin and Archbishop Justin Welby.

For more information about the book and its study guide.