• Daniel Kirk

A fascinating insight into the diverging identity of evangelicalism

It is not often that I pick up a book and read it at one sitting but that was the case with this book. Alright, it is only eighty pages long, but it’s a fascinating insight into the growth and diverging identity of evangelicalism within the Church of England. It helps in a small way to understand more fully the state of play in this wing of the Anglican Church today.

Andrew Atherstone studied the primary sources around a crisis in The Churchman theological journal which led to the foundation of rival evangelical journal Anvil. This echoed the growing division between different strands of post-Keele Anglican evangelicalism as they re-emerged from being on the back foot within the Church of England and sought to take greater prominence within their church.

As the editors attempted to widen the appeal of the Churchman, which had been the leading Anglican evangelical journal for over a century, and as evangelicalism itself grew beyond its traditional base both theologically and ecclesialogically, its owners -the Church Society- found themselves unable to rein them in. This led to growing tensions and finally the firing of the whole editorial board. Most of them went on to found a new journal called Anvil which struggled to get off the ground, but once it had the support of the majority of the evangelical bible colleges it took off and became the leading journal of what would become ‘open evangelicalism’. The new editor of the revamped Churchman, though taking a more Reformed Evangelical line, also increased the diversity of authors and reviewers and especially gave it more international flavour.

The main issue behind this ‘affair’ was the understanding of how evangelicalism should really be defined. Peter William