The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said Church leaders had rightly shown sensitivity towards Muslims as part of efforts to welcome minority faiths.Quite! And that really is how evangelization must be done. Speak honestly and respectfully to those of other religions, but without obscuring the basics of our own faith. To do otherwise is dishonest. Why would we not want to let people know about Christ? Keeping silent about Him suggests to others that we don't really care about Him.
But he said: ‘I think it may have gone too far and what we need now is to recover our nerve.’
Dr Nazir-Ali, who faced death threats earlier this year after saying that some parts of the country had become ‘no-go areas’ for non-Muslims, said that it was important for faiths to talk to one another without diluting their core beliefs.
‘Our nation is rooted in the Christian faith, and that is the basis for welcoming people of other faiths,’ he said. ‘You cannot have an honest conversation on the basis of fudge.’
The Pakistani-born bishop, who in 2002 was tipped to become Archbishop of Canterbury before Dr Rowan Williams took over from Dr George Carey, was echoing concerns that many Church leaders are abandoning attempts to spread Christianity among Muslims out of fear of a backlash.
Members of the Church’s ‘parliament’ have now forced the highly sensitive issue on to the agenda of this summer’s General Synod – despite the efforts of liberal bishops to warn them off.
A private members’ motion calling on the bishops to clarify their strategy has gathered so many signatures of support from Synod members that it has leapt over others in the queue for the July meeting in York.
Synod member Paul Eddy, who tabled the motion, said that the active recruitment of non-believers and adherents of other faiths had always been a Biblical injunction on Christians, commanded by Christ himself.But he claimed that many bishops were downplaying the missionary role of the Church and official documents often glossed over the requirement to convert Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs or followers of other religions.He warned that the central role of Christianity in Britain was being eroded, and by ‘allowing the rise of another religion in our country, all that Britain stands for is up for grabs’.