THE LIVING CHURCH • October 27, 2013
pression of church shaped by thegospel and the enduring marks of the church and for its cultural con-text.
ven a revised definition usually prompts new questions, so dur-ing 2007a series of “Hard Questions”conferences met throughout GreatBritain, with two theologians eachaddressing a different concern fol-lowed by panel discussion with prac-titioners and church leaders.
is one of thefruits of that exercise. The questionsrange from “What is the essence of the Church?” to “How does a mixedeconomy Church connect with con-temporary spirituality?”The contentof the responses issubstantive, oftenscholarly, and the overall tone is con-spicuously charitable.With regard to the substance of re-flection surrounding Fresh Expres-sions, it is apparent that ecclesiol-ogy and theology of mission arereceiving a great deal of attention.Not since the Tractarian controver-sies of the 19thcentury have we seensuch a proliferation of writing on thesubject of the Church.Of particular interest are questions regarding dis-tinctively Anglican understandingsof
in relation to mission andcontemporary culture.One finds a great deal of soul-searching regard-ing the legacies of Establishment aswell as quandaries over the “mixed-economy” metaphor, first introducedby Rowan Williams in his forewordto
Sorting through the Anglican doc-trine of the Church, if indeed there isone, and the complex writings of a theologian like Williams are no easytasks in themselves, but inquiringand, at times, anxious minds havealso reconsidered classic doctrinesof the Incarnation, the Trinity, andeschatology in light of the missiolog-ical thrust of Fresh Expressions.Theologians from Richard Hooker toLesslie Newbigin have been appro- priated and, in some cases, reinter- preted to bridge the perceived Christand culture divide.One of the more vigorous conversations has beengenerated by
For the Parish: A Cri-tique of Fresh Expressions
by An-drew Davison and Alison Milbank(SCM Press, 2010), which questionsthe determinative role that
has played in defin-ing contemporary Anglican ecclesi-ology [see Tony Hunt’s review for TLC at goo.gl/DT8sH7]. The litera-ture is voluminous and, in mostcases, fruitful as the Church of Eng-land undergoes what many ob-servers consider to be a paradigmshift in its stance toward late- or postmodern society. As regards the tone of this livelyconversation, there seems to be a gradual move toward charitable lis-tening as the hard questions persist.In his contribution to a collection of essays,
Evaluating Fresh Expressions
(Canterbury Press, 2008), StevenCroft is, again, among the more ebul-lient voices in the movement.Hetraces the constructive nature of thediscussion to the general recognitionthat “a fundamental and evolvingshift is taking place around faith inBritish society.”This awarenesshasled theologians and practitionersfrom across the churchmanshipspectrum to “respond responsiblyand in a way that is faithful to scrip-ture and tradition by re-engagingwith what it means to be the churchin mission.”In effect, there is noth-ing like a shared sense of mission for establishing common ground, espe-cially given the latitude afforded by a mixed economy. Sara Savage, a sen-ior research associate and lecturer at the University of Cambridge,thinks that listening, especially “lis-tening to the voices and needs withina locale,” has been an essential keyto Fresh Expressions from the start.Perhaps this “intersubjectivity” hasspilled over into the Church proper,
No Longer Messing About
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