I think the letter neatly sums up our problems as well as being a useful bit of history.
Sir, Colin Craston (December 12) does not go back far enough in his history of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC). It grew out of a situation in which evangelicals were sharply divided between the Conservative Evangelical and Liberal Evangelical wings of the evangelical movement. The liberals were numerically dominant and had their own literature and as an alternative to Keswick, their own convention at Cromer, etc. There were very few conservatives (Classical Evangelicals is a better term than conservative) in the precursor to Synod or other influential positions and varying degrees of liberal views were held by the many who thought of themselves as evangelicals. Many liberal evangelicals were warmly devotional and godly people who had been brought up in a more classical tradition. I knew some of the leaders personally from 1938.When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may not be posted.
The CEEC grew from a small private committee set by UCCF (then IVF). I was secretary and Alan Stibbs and other conservatives formed the group to try to develop a strategy to recover lost ground for the Classical tradition. When it was decided to make it a public body it separated from the interdenominational IVF and I withdrew. John Stott and Dick Lucas took over the leadership at first. There was however, before long a change of policy and in an attempt to include all those who liked to be called evangelical, they drew in a number of liberals, to the dismay of Alan Stibbs and his co-workers.
Today there is a new sizeable liberal evangelicalism, though it rarely likes the name and includes many who do not want to draw too much of a distinction between evangelical teaching and the rest of the Church of England. The standing ovation for a speech by Archbishop Runcie at NEAC showed just how things had developed. If this is the present situation it is going to be extremely difficult and probably impossible to pull all evangelicals together. If CEEC becomes another liberal evangelica organization it should look back and see what happened to the liberal evangelicalism of the 1930-50 period, when it virtually disappeared for lack of doctrinal coherence.
It was left to others to recover the classical witness with new leaders and new organizations.