One Body in Christ

It is a sad fact that 'official' histories of Christian organizations are often far from inspiring reading and of interest mostly to members or supporters of the organization concerned. Fortunately, One Body in Christ avoids this pitfall, firstly because it is particularly well researched and interestingly written and secondly because of the wider significance of the Evangelical Alliance (EA) - its history is bound up with the history of the evangelical movement in the churches of Great Britain, and therein lies the real interest of this volume.

Founded in 1846 at a time of controversy and threat to evangelical beliefs and values, the foundation of the EA gives a pointer to the future as it was an early example of ecumenical co-operation and in particular demonstrated that reconciliation and co-operation between evangelical members of the Church of England and the Free Churches was possible. Though perceived as standing initially in the tradition of English anti-Catholicism, the EA often found itself supporting independent evangelicals (often Baptists) who had fallen foul of Protestant state churches, for example in Sweden and some of the German states.

More recently, under the leadership of Clive Calver in the 1980s and 90s the EA underwent a renaissance, forsaking its somewhat conservative, rapidly dating image. It became far more outward looking and developed an involvement in national ethical and moral issues. Today the Alliance enjoys a profile respected even by many non-evangelical Christians and its General Secretary, Joel Edwards, is a regular contributor to Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'.

Throughout its history the EA has sought to draw together evangelical Christians across the denominational divides and to unite them in common causes of mutual concern. Its presence on the British Christian scene is a continual reminder that many Christian principles transcend denominational differences and that an underlying spiritual unity between evangelicals exists prior to and independently of any schemes of institutional unity between the churches.

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