At a time when Christian witness should be at its strongest, there is reluctance even among Christians to speak about faith in Jesus, the Bishop of Rochester said at a major summit of conservative Anglicans.
Speaking at a press conference at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) on Tuesday, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali urged Christians to speak up about their faith and remain committed to mission among those who have still not had the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
“Let us pray we are able to recover the Christian nerve in the West and to make sure the Gospel is not lost,” he said.
Nazir-Ali added that it was the right of Christians to be able to witness to people of all faiths and none, including Muslims.
“Just as Muslims have a right to invite others to join Islam, Christians have a right to invite others to Jesus,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the conservative bishop said that “the future of the Anglican Communion is to be found in its authentic nature, not in recent innovations or explanations.”
Scripture, the bishop continued, has to remain the authority that underpins any church. “The Bible is the norm by which we appreciate what is authentically apostolic. That is the reason for the Bible being the ultimate and final authority for us in our faith and our lives and this is the reason why Anglicans have taken our study of the Bible so seriously,” he said.
He further urged Anglicans to be clear in their confession. “Some people have the mistaken idea that Anglicans can believe anything, or that Anglicans can believe nothing. I don’t know which one is more serious.”
GAFCON takes place just weeks before Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion, in July.
Nazir-Ali, among other conservatives, will not be attending the Lambeth meeting. He said his decision “has to do with being in Eucharistic fellowship with and teaching the common faith alongside those who have ordained a person to be bishop whose style is contrary to the unanimous teaching of the Bible and of the Church down the ages.”
Controversy in the global Communion was heightened when the U.S. Episcopal Church consecrated the openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire and the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada blessed same-sex unions in 2003.