The St Paul's fiasco is symptomatic of Anglican confusion

Underlying the fiasco at St Paul's Cathedral over the the Occupy London protest on its doorstep is deep confusion about the message the Church of England is called to proclaim.

For Canon Giles Fraser, the liberal cleric who resigned as St Paul's Chancellor last week, the good news the established Church is called to preach equates with support for anti-capitalist, left-wing protest. He had an opportunity to keep access to St Paul's clear when the protesters first arrived. The police offered their presence on the Cathedral's steps to protect the building but Canon Fraser asked officers to move on.

Following that decision, St Paul's closed for public Christian worship for the first time since the Blitz whereas working positively with the police would have meant the Cathedral could have stayed open. St Paul's could have continued to proclaim Jesus Christ's glorious message of the forgiveness of all sin through faith in his Name in the heart of London.

Ah but surely the Church should be engaged with questions of social justice and political righteousness? Yes it should be. But how is social justice served by a city centre church being closed for its core activity of gospel communication leading to radical personal transformation across the whole of life?

Nor can it be claimed that Occupy London Stock Exchange - to give the movement its full title - has a monopoly of virtue from the Bible's point of view. You don't have to endorse bankers' greed and undeserved sky-rocketing City bonuses to be unpersuaded by the protesters' simplistic equation of capitalism with evil and left-wing protest with good.

It is worth noting that the Christian man after whom the iconic London Cathedral is named funded his gospel ministry through commercial activity - making and selling tents. Had St Paul arrived in 21st century London and set up shop in the vicinity of the church named after him, he could well have been among the honest local business people whose livelihoods would have been hit by the disruption.

In case anyone thinks that St Paul would have got business from the protesters, remember Occupy London brought their tents and camping equipment with them - that is, before a number of the campaigners left their tabernacles unoccupied for some home comforts. So St Paul would not have got any custom from them.

But his market to weekend hikers and scouting organisations would certainly have been affected.

One wonders what the response by the liberal Anglican establishment would have been if a group of heterosexual marriage campaigners protesting against Coalition plans to violate this wonderful God-created institution had wanted to pitch their tents on the steps of St Paul's. Would they have been so liberal in that instance? One suspects they might have accepted the police's offer to keep such protesters off their doorstep.

The St Paul's debacle is simply symptomatic of the deep theological gulf between liberal and orthodox Anglicans over the nature of the gospel message we should be proclaiming. Orthodox Anglicans who believe in the biblical doctrine of the Church of England as expressed in its 39 Articles of Religion do not equate the gospel of Jesus with any political ideology, whether left-wing, right-wing or Cleggite. They believe that no political camp has a monopoly of virtue and that Christ's righteousness is refracted variously across the political sprectrum.

Moreover, the practical reality across the Church of England is that liberal theology leads to churches closing wheras orthodox Anglicans who proclaim the biblical gospel are planting new churches all over the country.