The following is an excerpt from an interview with Michael Green by the Revd Dr Peter Walker in January 2019. This is published in Michael Green by his friends, (Inter Varsity Press) edited by Julia Cameron, the Director of Publishing for EFAC. Publication date is September 19 2019.
EFAC: past, present and future
The Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC) was founded by John Stott back in 1961. How significant was EFAC in those early decades?
By the 1960s, there was increasing confidence in the evangelical community. John Stott was an amazing figure who led all sorts of areas of evangelical outreach, imagination, and stabilizing. He realized that there were now quite a lot of pretty intelligent, well-taught evangelicals who knew what they were doing, in England. But, as he travelled, he found very few seminaries teaching orthodox doctrine, and very few of the bright young [leaders] deeply rooted in Scripture. So, he developed the idea of raising some money and hand-picking people, primarily from Africa, but also Asia, to come to this country and do two things; 1. Be rooted in a parish, where they’d spend their vacations; and 2. Study at seminaries that were orthodox, where they could get their roots down. This produced an enormous crop of ‘EFAC scholars’. Many became bishops. It was a very, very significant move. The big drawback, which they tried to rectify at the end, was that it separated a candidate from his family for three years.
Now EFAC has been relaunched, and is trying to encourage the task of providing good evangelical resources for those in gospel ministry. What would you say to us in EFAC by way of encouragement or advice?
Because the Communion is swaying towards a secularist approach of not making Scripture normative, this movement is [vital]. Many evangelicals have got their heads in the local work and are not doing anything on the national or wider scale. It’s narrow-minded. So it is wonderful that you’re pulling this together; and I know it is beginning to take root in a number of countries.
An occasional conference to get worldwide agreement on polity is important. John Stott realized this in the early days of EFAC. He had these ‘Essentials’ conferences—brilliantly planned! I remember the first one in Nottingham. We had the best part of 2000 people there. Each speaker wrote a chapter in a book (Obeying Christ in a Changing World). Every overseas bishop had one of each of these books on critical issues that were going to be discussed at the Lambeth conference. Something with that type of vision could be done again.
Another area where EFAC could help is in training indigenous writers and film-makers. So much Christian material overseas is borrowed from Australia or the States or England. That’s ok, but it’s only secondary in value to people who can speak their own language and speak into their own culture. My son is doing this in SE Asia —training [local people] in writing, and [soon they are ready to] publish in their own language. The influence of this is incalculable.
How could you see a revived EFAC playing a positive role in ensuring the Anglican Communion remains solidly based on its biblical foundations? GK Chesterton said there are many times that the Church went ‘to the dogs’, but every time it was the dogs that died! Do you think that might be true?
I think that may be true. At the moment, the issue is very much a pan-sexual issue; and the divide is very clear. A lot of bishops in England are ‘rolling over’ and allowing the culture to trump the revelation.
Many times when it’s looked as if the Church is going ‘down the tube’, God has broken in with revival. He did in the 18th Century. God can do that again. So [we need] faithfulness to Scripture, honest preaching, training of congregations, and prayer that the Good Lord will do his work in our day. These could be marvellous things that EFAC could facilitate.
Taken from Michael Green by his friends ed: Julia E M Cameron (IVP).