Christians must maintain a clear gospel message if they are to meet people’s deepest need, the Bishop of Maidstone has told the BBC.
Speaking on the Today programme, Rod Thomas said Bible-believing Christians can change the medium of the Gospel, but not its message.
The comments came as BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme discussed the challenges facing the Church of England.
The real need
Presenter Nick Robinson questioned Bishop Thomas on the relevance of taking a biblical stance on sexual ethics in modern Britain.
…we find our full identity in Jesus Christ.
The Bishop replied: “By all means change how you go about seeking to reach people, but if you change your message, you cease to provide people with spiritual food”.
He added that “the real need that people have is for their spiritual hunger to be satisfied, and that can only be done when people are clear about the gospel message”.
Questioned about what such churches “have to say to gay men and women”, the Bishop said they have an excellent message for people struggling with their sexual identity because we find our full identity in Jesus Christ.
The programme also featured St John’s Church from the World’s End estate in Chelsea which set up a gym to reach its community twelve years ago.
Revd Andy Mason said people are attracted to the unchanging message of the Bible, rather than being put off by such teaching.
The BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent Martin Bashir responded to reports of a decline in Anglican attendance in England by saying it was too early to “start reading the last rites” for Christianity.
Bashir noted that people in Britain have changed from a “faith by inheritance” to a “faith by choice” – meaning that those who believe are committed, rather than nominal.
He also highlighted the significant growth of the Anglican church outside these shores, most notably in Africa.