Director of Church Society Calls on Christians to Take Courage
The Revd Dr Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, has called on all Christians to take courage in the fight for Christian orthodoxy within the Church of England.
In his essay in the Winter 2022 edition of Crossway magazine, Gatiss breaks down the concept of courage into four categories: 1.) collective courage, 2.) costly courage, 3.) continuing courage, and, 4.) compulsory courage.
Using the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians as the starting point, Gatiss calls the Church to understand the collective nature of courage.
“In Philippians 1, for example, we learn that courage is unashamedly proclaiming the gospel together, whatever the cost. First in Philippians 1:14 Paul says, ‘And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.’
“Paul is in prison because of his open proclamation of the good news of Jesus. But rather than making the Christians around him somewhat wary of speaking out themselves, it has only made them more confident. That word confident speaks of assurance in a situation which might normally cause fear or dismay. Their hearts are not cowardly, but convinced and courageous.”
He also reminds that courage can be costly and points to the fact that the Apostle told the Philippians in 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him.”Gatiss exhorts his readers to remember that courage also has an ongoing or continuing element to it. He shared some of the personal struggles he’s had in his very public position over the last few months.
“In the last few months, I’ve personally been threatened by CDMs, being reported to the police, and threatened with violence, verbal, and physical abuse, and death, simply for having stood by the view of marriage and sexuality in The Beautiful Story — which is the Church of England’s official view. I know many of you have also faced flak. We know the temptation to self-censorship can be immense.
“So courage in our current situation is not about giving simple answers and then walking away, like a cocky student in an exam being asked what courage is. No, courage is about endurance. As Aquinas puts it, ‘the principal act of fortitude is endurance, that is to stand immovable in the midst of dangers’ (Summa 2/2.123.6).
“But courage is not the same as foolhardiness, brawling and brashness. It is not, necessarily, dramatic. But what it is, courage is not passive either, or incomplete — all talking and tweeting but never acting.”
In concluding, Gatiss points out that biblically speaking, courage is compulsory.
“Finally, courage is not optional either. It’s rather startling that in Revelation 21:8, the first people listed as being thrown into hell (even before murderers, the sexually immoral, idolators, and liars) are ‘the cowardly’. The timid. The ones who run away.”