Updated again 22 July
Here’s a round-up of responses from people for whom the recent General Synod debates and voting were not welcome news.
First, an article that was written before the synod, but as the author is not only a General Synod member from Oxford diocese, but also a member of the new Pastoral Advisory Group, it is of interest: Sam Allberry wrote Same sex relationships: should we just agree to disagree?. Here’s a sample of his answer (but read all of it).
…The fate of homosexual people
Paul is very clear that the “unrighteous” will not enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6 v 9-11). Among the very various examples of unrighteous behaviour he lists is homosexual practise. Paul is delivering a profound warning: those who do not repent of such behaviour will not enter heaven. Eternity is at stake. To say the issue does not matter is to say that the eternal destiny of people does not matter. This is not the case with secondary issues like infant baptism or women’s ordination…
The Chair of the GAFCON Primates, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh in his July letter wrote this:
…False teaching is restless and relentless, and the Church of England itself is in grave spiritual danger. It is much to be regretted that there has been far more concern about alleged ‘boundary crossing’ than about the contempt of God’s Word that made a missionary bishop necessary. In fact, the Bishop of Edinburgh, who has strongly supported the Scottish Episcopal Church’s adoption of same sex ‘marriage’ was invited as a guest of honour to the Church of England’s July General Synod meeting.
Although the Church of England’s legal position on marriage has not changed, its understanding of sexual morality has. Same sex relationships, which were described by Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998 as ‘incompatible with Scripture’ now receive approval at the highest level. For example, Vicky Beeching, a singer, songwriter and activist who advocates homosexual marriage was honoured with the Archbishop Thomas Cranmer award for Worship in a ceremony at Lambeth Palace…
Rob Munro a General Synod member from Chester diocese, wrote a long reflection for Church Society entitled Radical Christian Inclusion…? which includes this:
…Shifted Middle. In previous synods, the non-aligned middle, the roughly 1/3 of synod who don’t self-identify as either conservative or radical, could usually be relied on to be social conservative, to be slow to bow to the pressures that political correctness has always brought. No longer! It was clear that an unqualified inclusion agenda is now seen as the mainstream. Ten years ago, the LGBTI lobbyists were clearly only a vocal minority; today, if you speak out for the previously received biblical understandings you are made to feel like the minority. The radicals have the confidence that their stories now resonate with more people; conservatives speak with the fear we will be misheard or misunderstood – that disagreement on the sexuality issues for theological reasons will be heard as whichever phobia it can be labelled as…
Susie Leafe a General Synod member from Truro diocese, who speaks for Reform wrote an even longer reflection which concludes:
…In the space of four days, the General Synod of the Church of England have, in effect, rejected the doctrines of creation, the fall, the incarnation, and our need for conversion and sanctification Instead we have said that we are ‘perfect’ as we are, or as we see ourselves, and that the Church should affirm us and call on God to validate our choices. No wonder we do not want to proclaim Christ’s unique identity and significance for all people.
We have chosen to understand the world through secular reports, unconscious bias training, the teaching of other religions and the results of polls and media headlines, rather than the unchanging word of God.
Paul warns us what happens when we do this in Romans 1:28: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave then up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
But God does not abandon his people. In his mercy, just a week before this Synod, Andy Lines was consecrated by ACNA, as a missionary bishop to Europe by 11 Primates (leaders of Anglican provinces) and 3 Archbishops. This had been requested by the Gafcon Primates Council, who represent the vast majority of the Anglican Communion. Don’t fear – we are not alone – but decisions will need to be made.
Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream wrote: Synod supports ban on ‘conversion therapy’ – what it means. His conclusions:
…There is now an area of incoherence in the Church of England’s doctrine that even the most radical adherents of ‘plural truth’ philosophy will not tolerate for long. Those who have same sex attraction are told they cannot change, but they also can’t get married or have their relationships blessed in church. Is it now surely a matter of time before the Church of England decides that while it can’t deny LGBT orthodoxy (sexual orientation is innate and unchangeable, trying to alter it is harmful), it can and must deny and change bible based doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman and homosexual practice is sinful, because these teachings are ‘harmful’?
This decision on ‘conversion therapy’ was not made for reasons of Christian theology. It was made on the basis of fake science (as many of the articles here demonstrate), fear of the LGBT lobby and the dreaded “Tim Farron question”, and emotional manipulation by apostate activists within the church leadership. The governing body of the main church in the land has capitulated to powerful ideologies in secular culture, the ‘stoicheia’ of Colossians 2:8, providing no protection for those who wish to be obedient to God’s word and resist those ideologies, serving people in love and calling them to repentance and faith in Christ.
The consecration of a ‘missionary Bishop’, ministering to faithful Anglicans outside the official structures, has surely come at the right time. We will need several more.
Ian Paul has asked Is Synod competent? A sample of his reasoning:
…There are several reasons why these two motions should never have been debated. The first and most obvious is that both issues will certainly be addressed in the teaching document that the Archbishops have commissioned, so the motions are trying to short-circuit a wider discussion. The second is that both take the form of false binaries; essentially they say ‘Do you agree with me—or do you hate gay and transgender people?’ No matter how faulty the wording, failing to pass either motion would not have looked like good PR, and there would have been howls of protest from various quarters. In the voting, it was evident that the bishops were acutely aware of this, and taking both motions by a vote of houses (so that they had to pass separately in each of the bishops, clergy and laity) which would normally make it harder for a motion to pass, in fact made it easier, since the bishops could not afford to be seen to be the ones who were blocking.
The third reason was the poor wording of both motions. The PMM talked of ‘conversion therapy’ but used this as an ill-defined catch-all which made proper debate very difficult. Every single speaker, including those who proposed and supported significant amendments, agreed that any form of forced or coercive treatment of people who are same-sex attracted (whether they are happy with that or not) is abusive and must be rejected. But another part of Jayne Ozanne’s agenda is to have significant movements in the Church, including New Wine, Soul Survivor, HTB and Spring Harvest labelled as ‘spiritual abusive’ and therefore illegal. This is why the motion was seen as a Trojan horse. Her motion was also asking Synod to ‘endorse’ a medical opinion, and a controverted one at that, which is simply not within Synod’s competence to do so. But suggesting that Synod ‘does not have the competence’ to express a view is like holding up a red rag to a bull (or any colour rag—bulls are colour blind). In the end we passed an amended motion that ‘endorsed’ a different medical view—but few had read the details, still less understood the issues within it, and such endorsement is meaningless except as tokenism…
Chik Kaw Tan, General Synod lay member from Lichfield diocese: Fundamental shifts in the General Synod
..Loss of giants in the House of Bishops
I respect the faithful orthodox bishops who are quietly working behind the scene to ensure Biblical teachings are adhered to. Yet I lament the loss of some of the true giants that I had the privilege to know when I first entered Synod. One can immediately think of Bishops Michael Scott-Joynt and Michael Nazir-Ali. A present bold figure and rising star is Julian Henderson of Blackburn but we need more orthodox prophet-bishops to speak to our times.
Not without sympathy, I think there are now many Christians, Synod members included, who have chosen the path of self-censorship. It is increasingly difficult to be counter-cultural and it is telling that our own church leaders are avoiding making any statements that will cause conflict with the LGBT lobby in society, and even within Synod itself. Who are the prophets of our times in the Church of England? Where are the Elijahs? Certainly not our archbishops, one of whom was conspicuous by the absence of any contribution in the two major debates on sexuality and the other notable by his support of the LGBT-inspired motions. This has raised serious concerns about the future of our beloved church.,,