This friend draws attention to the action of Judah's King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14v11 and its spiritual effect:
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, "Lord, there is no-one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God; do not let man prevail against you" (NIV).Such trenchant biblical encouragement to faithful prayer in the heat of the spiritual battle is most welcome. Cranmer's Curate can certainly say Amen to any prayer for alternative episcopal oversight in the women bishops' measure but hopefully not naively.
Serious issues for the future of conservative evangelical ministry in the Church of England would remain unresolved even if, God willing, the redoutable proponents of 'proper provision' were to succeed in the General Synod. Amongst such questions are:
* Would our constituency get it own bishops or would we have to rely on Anglo-Catholics? How would proper provision provide for conservative evangelicals?
* What about our young men entering Church of England ministry and taking on incumbencies where the PCC does not want alternative episcopal oversight? Is proper provision going to be the exclusive privilege of the large, established conservative evangelical churches? How can it extend to turnaround churches?
* Is 'two integrities' really the right biblical approach to the ordering of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ on a matter on which the New Testament is clear? How far can we accede to theological diversity without sacrificing biblical clarity on the altar of postmodern uncertainty?
Percipient members of the youth group can no doubt add to the list of questions and come up with better ones. But your curate honestly believes the above issues are not to be dismissed lightly.
Certainly, we should all be praying earnestly for the spiritual future of conservative evangelical churches currently in the institutional Church of England and for fruitful ministry platforms for the gifted young men we are wanting to encourage into presbyteral ministry.
But the God-given victory against this large army of revisionists ranged against us may entail more flexibility and spiritual entrepeneurship than our conservative evangelical constituency is generally comfortable with at the moment.