Does the UK need a Gospel Coalition?

Does the UK need a Gospel Coalition?
Paul Smith
Paul Smith Paul Smith is full-time elder of Grace Baptist Church, Broadstairs, Kent. He is also a director and the book reviews editor for ET.
02 June, 2024 6 min read

Is the desire for evangelical unity a worthy one? Absolutely. Is the desire for a shared evangelical platform a worthy one? Definitely. But each time one is mooted there are challenges. Is it possible to unite with evangelicals in mixed denominations? How can confusion among evangelicals on crucial moral and cultural issues be handled?

Affinity’s director, Graham Nicholls, is championing the formation of The Gospel Coalition-UK. He is optimistic that evangelicals can unite as part of a broad coalition. Others fear that glossing over issues needing biblical clarity in pursuit of broad evangelical unity will breed confusion and division.

Idea from Affinity

Nicholls told ET that the idea of TGC-UK ‘grew from a suggestion from someone within Affinity, which I welcomed because it met with the desire we had for more visible and fruitful gospel unity. We approached TGC because we believe they are a brand that is recognised and trusted. As people are already going to the site, TGC-UK could connect us with people who are basically sympathetic to but unaware of us.’

Nicholls noted that ‘initial conversations suggest there are quite a lot of churches enthusiastic to get involved. Two categories of worries have emerged regarding TGC: some deem it to be on a socially liberal trajectory and others that it is too narrow theologically. Some also view it as toxic due to some leadership failures.

‘We are beholden to make sure we are as transparent and accountable as we can be if we go ahead. Change is almost always destabilising, and I understand everyone’s concerns, but I believe this broader coalition would add to our gospel witness and encourage and equip believers in the UK.’

Culturally compromised?

TGC’s critics believe it is too cosy with the world’s culture. While Scripture says ‘flee youthful passions’, senior editor and director of communications Brett McCracken has repeatedly promoted R-rated movies with sexual content.

TGC’s broad ‘gospel-centredness’ initially encouraged large numbers, but to keep those numbers (and funding) it seems to have followed the evangelical centre as it drifted with the culture.
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