Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 08:56 UK

Church to debate convert motion

General synod
The motion will be debated at the next meeting of the general synod in July

A traditionalist Anglican has said he will continue with a campaign for the Church of England to work explicitly to convert Muslims to Christianity.

Paul Eddy, a lay member of the General Synod, has come under intense pressure from bishops to withdraw his plan.

But he has secured enough support for his motion to be debated at the next meeting of the Church's ruling body.

The motion calls on the Church to proclaim Christianity as the only route to ultimate salvation.

Mr Eddy, who is training to become a priest, has been denounced by some Muslims, but says the Church can no longer avoid hard questions about its beliefs.

He said he had received angry e-mails and telephone calls from senior figures in the Church denouncing his motion.

No-go areas

Mr Eddy claims to have the backing of at least 124 members of the synod, including the Bishops of Rochester, Carlisle and Chester.

They will expect us - if we're true Christians - to try to evangelise them, in the same way they will expect us, if they're true Muslims, to adopt their faith
Paul Eddy
General Synod lay member

Speaking to the Sunday programme on BBC Radio Four, he said that in an effort to be inclusive and inoffensive, the church had "lost its nerve" and was "not doing what the Bible says".

"Both Christianity and Islam are missionary faiths," he said. "For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Mr Eddy claimed that 20% of parishes contained populations in which 60% of people were not Christian.

And he said that without a concerted effort, the church was in danger of creating "no-go areas for the gospel".

"Most Muslims that I've talked to say, 'I really wish that Christians would stop watering down their faith and expecting us to do the same.'

"Until we start really saying what we really believe in our faith, there will be no respect.

"Actually, to present to a Muslim that we believe Jesus is the only way to God, they'll say, 'We know that'.

"They will expect us - if we're true Christians - to try to evangelise them, in the same way they will expect us, if they're true Muslims, to adopt their faith."

Risk of alienation

Mr Eddy called for a code of good practice to be drawn up by bishops to give church members advice on how to evangelise.

It should also give advice, he said, on how to support Muslims who choose to convert and are then ostracised by their communities.

BBC News religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says Mr Eddy's stance is likely to alienate many Muslims at a highly-sensitive time in the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the UK.

Our correspondent added that the motion is a sign of the conservative evangelical wing of the Church flexing its muscles to oppose what it warns is a watering down of Christian values in deference especially to Muslims.

The summer meeting of the synod is from 4 July to 8 July in York.


SEE ALSO
Q&A: The general synod
11 Feb 08 |  UK Politics

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