GAFCON Chairman’s Letter — October 2018

“My dear people of God,

Last week, the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) issued a communiqué in which it affirmed the unanimous decision of the House of Bishops not to attend Lambeth 2020 unless the Archbishop of Canterbury reverses his policy of inviting those who have rejected biblical teaching and not inviting those who remain faithful but have been forced to leave their traditional spiritual homes. …”

– The Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, Archbishop Nicholas D. Okoh, has released his pastoral letter for October 2018. As well as addressing the bigger issues of the Anglican Communion, he also writes of the double tragedy in the church of South Sudan.

In Favour of Clarity

“The recent announcement by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) that the Bishops of the Province had voted unanimously not to attend the Lambeth Conference unless the conditions set forth in the Gafcon Letter of June 2018 are met, comes as no surprise.

Nonetheless it is an historic moment. …”

– Dr. Peter Jensen discusses the reasons for the brokenness of the Anglican Communion’s structures. Nevertheless, the Lord is doing wonderful things.

Related: Letter to the Churches – GAFCON 2018 Final Statement.

The Empire Strikes Back

“Readers of Jane Eyre will recall that the heroine was courted by two very different types of man.

On the one side was the dark and dubious Mr Rochester, a man with a mysterious past and an uncertain future. On the other was the pious and pure St John Rivers, whose path to the overseas mission field was clearly predestined.

As we know, Jane chose Mr Rochester, perhaps because she thought she could play a part in his redemption, but she remained in touch with St John and never lost her admiration for him, even if she could not see herself measuring up to his high standards. Nearly two centuries later, we can look back on that and ponder how the story unfolded after the novel ended. …“

– Church Society has posted this excerpt from Gerald Bray’s editorial in the current issue of Churchman. (Of course, they would be pleased if you subscribed!)

Peter Jensen to succeed Gerald Bray as Editor of Churchman

“After 35 years as the editor of Churchman, Professor Gerald Bray has decided to retire from the role at the end of 2018. We are very sorry to see Gerald hang up his boots, after sterling service over half a lifetime and nearly 140 entertaining, provocative, stimulating editorials. Over the decades he has established Churchman as the leading international journal for Anglican Evangelical theology, and we owe him a huge debt. …

We are delighted to announce that the new editor of Churchman, from January 2019, is Archbishop Peter Jensen.”

– Read the details at Church Society’s website.

Why the Welsh Bishops are calling evil good

“ ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.’ (Isaiah 5:20)

These words were addressed by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Judah as part of his warning of forthcoming divine judgement. They warn that God will judge those who seek to justify sin by arguing that it is not really sinful at all because good is evil and evil is really good. They came to mind this week following the announcement this week that the Governing Body of the Church in Wales had voted to support a proposal from the Welsh bishops to explore ‘formal provision for those in same-gender relationships.’

In this post I shall explain why the words of Isaiah apply to the Welsh decision. …”

– At his blog, Reflections of an Anglican Theologian, Martin Davie considers this week’s announcement by the Bishops of the Church in Wales that “it is pastorally unsustainable and unjust for the Church to continue to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships”.

Photo: Archbishop of Wales, John Davies (courtesy The Church in Wales.)

Church in Wales to explore formal provision for same-sex couples

“The Bishops of the Church in Wales have been given the go-ahead to explore formal provision for same-sex couples in church. …

They voted with a clear majority in favour of the bishops looking at new approaches which could be brought back to the Governing Body for approval at a later date.

The private ballot followed a presentation to the meeting from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Strange…”

– Report from The Church in Wales. (Graphic: The Church in Wales.)

GAFCON Chairman’s Letter September 2018

GAFCON Primates Council Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh turns to the situation in New Zealand in his latest pastoral letter:

“This realignment of the Anglican Communion will undoubtedly continue. Compromise leads to more compromise, but can there be a better way forward than the aggressive legalism practised in the Americas?

New Zealand will be a test. Following the decision in May by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) to allow for the blessing of same sex relationships, contrary to Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, a number of parishes in New Zealand have announced that they can no longer in conscience remain part of the Province, but Gafcon is proposing a fresh approach in order to minimise conflict.”

Read it all here.

The Church and the Bible (Part 2)

“What particularly threatens us as members of the Church of England is the very serious danger of the official acceptance by our Church of doctrines and practices which are additional and contrary to the Scriptural witness – and all in the supposed interest of larger and truer unity among Christians.

As each Lambeth Conference makes more obvious, there is the growing pressure of the Anglican Communion, and of a striving after a comprehensive ‘wholeness‘ whose governing principle is not uncompromising loyalty to the Scriptures, as the one supreme rule of faith and conduct, but the holding together in one family of churches which have come to believe and worship differently …”

– Alan Stibbs wasn’t writing yesterday, but in the January 1960 issue of The Australian Church Record.

Learn about the nine new GAFCON Networks

Learn about the nine strategic global Networks launched at GAFCON 2018.

Edinburgh church votes to split from the Scottish Episcopal Church

“One of the largest churches in Edinburgh has voted to split from the Scottish Episcopal Church amid tensions over its decision to become the first Anglican body in the UK to endorse gay marriage. …

The Rev David McCarthy, Rector at St Thomas’ told The Sunday Telegraph the decision had been a “very painful” one. …

‘… it is the Episcopal Church who are leaving us. They are leaving orthodoxy.’…”

– Report from The Sunday Telegraph.

(Photo of David McCarthy via GAFCON.)

See also: St. Thomas’, Corstorphine, Edinburgh.

Lambeth 98 — Scripture Rules

Twenty years ago today, the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed Resolution 1.10 on Human Sexuality. (5th August 1998.)

Many see it as an important date in Anglican history – as does Dr. Stephen Noll, who was there for the American Anglican Council. Read his Diary notes from Week Three of Lambeth 1998.

How was Lambeth 98 seen at the time?

The American Anglican Council’s Encompass newsletter for August 1998 featured a front page report by AAC President Bishop James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, who wrote these prophetic words:

“I hope that the result of Lambeth 1998 will be the forming of an alliance of Anglicans from the West and the South committed to the biblical Gospel and to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.”

Here is the full text of his report:

“l am writing on the final day of the 1998 Lambeth Conference in Canterbury. We are completing three weeks that have been full of the joys one would expect from a great gathering of the Church‘s leaders, ‘elect from every nation yet one o’er all the earth.’ And all this during a beautiful English summer, overlooking Canterbury Cathedral, our communion’s historic home.

But I must confess that a dark shadow hung over this Conference that was only dispelled in the final days. This shadow was the work of our American Episcopal Church.

By tolerating an overt non-theist in its midst — the Bishop of Newark — and by promoting practices clearly contrary to the Bible and the Church’s historic teaching — the ordination of practicing homosexuals and ‘blessing’ of same-sex partnerships — our Church was threatening its own unity and the unity of the Communion.

Frankly we Americans needed help. Last September in Dallas, Stephen Noll, our Encompass editor, had urged the forty Third World bishops gathered there: ‘The handwriting is on the wall. Please spell it out for us, by the grace of God that is given you and the help of the Holy Spirit.’ On August 5 they did just that when they passed a strong, clear Resolution on Human Sexuality.

This Resolution was not easily won. We faced, sadly, opposition prepared to thwart the will of the majority. Our team at Lambeth worked hard to provide support in terms of networking, information, planning, and praying (intercessors prayed every waking hour of the Conference). The crisis point came when the Archbishop of Canterbury, seeing the determination of the Third World bishops on this issue, intervened to ensure a fair and orderly debate. The dam then broke and the Conference did spell out its position by a vote of 526 for, 70 against, 46 abstaining.

Archbishop George Carey said at the end of this historic debate that ‘if this Conference is known and named by what we have said about homosexuality we will have failed.’ l agree. This Conference was not about sex. It was about the authority of Scripture in the Church, which is at the heart of our identity as Christians and Anglicans. It was no accident that the day after the sexuality vote the Conference passed a strong statement of biblical authority.

Furthermore, I think this Conference will be known as the moment when the voice of the ‘South,’ i.e., the Two-Thirds World Anglicans, became the voice of the Communion. it was a bold but caring voice –  It is the voice of the Decade of Evangelism –  It is a voice seeking help to teach, to nurture, and to employ the new converts who are the fruit of the past decade’s expansion. It is a voice challenging us to take the Gospel to our secularized societies in the West.

Our African, Latino, and Asian comrades acknowledged our role here. ‘The Conference would have been a disaster without you,’ one Nigerian bishop told us as we bade farewell. ‘We are not self sufficient. You managed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to keep us together.’

I hope that the result of Lambeth 1998 will be the forming of an alliance of Anglicans from the West and the South committed to the biblical Gospel and to our Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. We have seen a work of God. Our work has just begun.

With great thanksgiving to God and greetings to you.

James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas
President, American Anglican Council.”

See the original article here (700kb PDF file).

On the inside pages, Dr Stephen Noll, Encompass Editor, provided his own perspective:

Lambeth Report: Was it a Defining Moment?

“The bishops of the South did not want to talk about sex, but they did want to talk about Scripture, so the next day they passed a Resolution on Scripture that ‘reaffirms the primary authority of the Scriptures, according to their testimony and supported by our own historic formularies.” It goes on to urge “that the Biblical text be handled respectfully, coherently, and consistently …  believing that Scriptural revelation must continue to illuminate, challenge and transform cultures, structures, and ways of thinking, especially those that pre- dominate today.’…”

With twenty years’s hindsight, Dr Noll’s reflection is sobering reading. See his full comments here (1.2MB PDF file).

See also Bishop Paul Barnett’s remarks to the October 1998 ACL Dinner.

(In the older section of our website).

Lambeth Diary from the First Week of the Lambeth Conference July 18-25, 1998

From Dr. Stephen Noll:

“This is the 20th anniversary of the historic 1998 Lambeth Conference.

I was present there, representing the American Anglican Council (AAC). In this capacity I filed a three-week ‘Diary’ of the Conference. I am posting this diary without revision, except for the final week.”

Here is the first instalment. Fascinating reading.

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