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 Issues | General Synod| July 2006

General Synod

Further Education Chaplaincy
or
Encouraging students to reject Christ

On Friday the General Synod will be asked to debate a report (GS1628) on chaplaincies in Further Education. The report sets out the ambitious goal of increasing such chaplaincies from 200 to 400 and ensuring that local churches are active in this work. However, as the report reveals so often the work of such chaplaincies is not to make Christ known but to encourage a general spiritual outlook and to embrace religions which deny the divinity of Christ and that salvation is to be found through Him.

The general strategy adopted includes:

Joint action with local ecumenical and faith community partners to develop, wherever feasible, multi-faith chaplaincy teams with a daily or full-time equivalent presence in college. (Section 2)

The end result aimed at is:

providing a full range of services — worship, prayer, festivals, curriculum input, pastoral services — in all colleges by 2010. (Section 17)

In other words the aim of the chaplaincies is to encourage the practice of various religions regardless of whether they lead people to Christ or not.

This is further explained in section 12 when the work of the Chaplains is explained:

Further Education Chaplains, of whatever faith, do not indulge in overt proselytism (i.e. trying to convert students from one faith to another). FE Chaplains are there to help students in their spiritual and moral development; to explore faith, and to seek meaning and purpose in life; chaplains also act as signposts to local churches and faith communities.

But given the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations can this be seen as a Christian objective and should a church which claims to be Christian encourage such a an outlook. Our desire must be that all would come to know Christ.

In July 2002 the General Synod passed the following resolution

“That this Synod, whilst valuing and affirming the importance of cultural and religious diversity, is convinced that the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ is for all and must be shared with all including people from other faiths or no faith and that to do anything else would be to institutionalize discrimination

Therefore, the General Synod is now being asked to approve a strategy for Further Education chaplaincies which will “institutionalize discrimination” against those of other faiths, denying them willfully “the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ”.

Compare therefore this FE strategy with the strategy for ministry set out by the Apostle Paul:

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

It would appear that the strategy before the Synod now is concerned more with turning people aside to fables than with preaching the word.

The full report (GS1268) can be found on the Church of England website.

 

David Phillips July 2006

 

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