Tactics, not truth, over same-sex marriages

“It would seem that the response by the bishops of the Church of England to the latest attempt in the House of Lords to force clergy to conduct same-sex weddings was driven by tactical considerations rather than by transcendent truth.

Although the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft [pictured], resisted the amendment by Lords Faulkner and Collins to remove the CofE’s exemption from solemnising same-sex marriages, his remarks were notable for their political tone…”

The Rev. Julian Mann discerns an attempt by the Bishop of Oxford to placate the 100+ evangelical clergy in his diocese who signed a letter ‘of grave concern’ in January.

Gospel Flourishing in a Time of Confusion — new book from Church Society

At Church Society’s website, there’s news of a new book to help evangelicals in the midst of a very confused Church of England.

Glorify God in Your Body – new book from Martin Davie

The latest Podcast from Church Society discusses an important new publication by Martin Davie – Glorify God in your Body. The book’s subtitle is Human identity and flourishing in marriage, singleness and friendship.

Clear biblical teaching on these topics is much in need in today’s church.

From the cover of the book:

“This study, written by Dr Martin Davie in collaboration with a representative group of other Evangelical theologians, is commended by the Church of England Evangelical Council as a resource in the discussions taking place in the Church of England in relation to the House of Bishops’ ‘Living in Love and Faith: Christian teaching and learning about human identity, sexuality and marriage’ project.

It explores a Christian approach to human identity, marriage, singleness, friendship, sex and family life in the light of the worldview that is laid out for us in Scripture and the classical Christian tradition. It considers the current challenges to this approach arising from the sexual revolution and from technological developments in the fields of birth control and infertility treatment and looks at how Christians should respond to them in ways that will enable them to fulfil St. Paul’s injunction to ‘glorify God in your body’. (1 Corinthians 6:20).

From the Church of England Evangelical Council website, you can download the complete 324 page book as a PDF file, or in Kindle and ePub versions. There’s also a link to purchase printed copies from the Latimer Trust.

Read the Press Release accompanying the publication of the book (PDF file).

Two current stories highlight the need to not only understand God’s word, but also to live by it.

The Reality of Sexual Abuse Hits Home: What Happened? What Do We Do Now? – Albert Mohler.

“A massive investigative report appeared in the Sunday editions of the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. The headline was direct — ‘20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms.’…”

Thomas Brown elected 10th bishop of Maine in historic vote – Episcopal News Service.

“Brown will become The Episcopal Church’s only openly gay and married bishop currently leading a diocese. … The church currently has one other openly gay bishop. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009…”

The Bible Theft: Guarding Against Those who Steal God’s Word from the Church

Dr. Peter Sanlon (pictured), Vicar of St. Mark’s Tunbridge Wells, has recently published “The Bible Theft” – a book to help Christians spot the various kinds of anti-Biblical teaching running rampant in the Church of England.

It’s a very timely book, and Julian Mann draws attention to it:

“This tremendously accessible and intelligent book from the pastoral front line breathes the excitement of Christian truth and thus commends the Faith to both Christians and non-Christians.”

Australian readers can order copies from these booksellers (and, doubtless, others).

Better than Inclusion: Welcome! Response to Church of England Guidance on Gender Transition Services

Glen Scrivener from Speak Life speaks with Dr Ian Paul about the open letter released this week, ‘A Response to the House of Bishops guidance on Transgender Welcome’, and the whole issue of gender dysphoria.

Ian Paul reaffirms that everyone is welcome at church, and explains why.

Watch the conversation.

Read the Letter and see the signatories which includes more than a thousand Church of England clergy.

“Transgender Baptism” – How should we Respond? — GAFCON UK

Gafcon UK has published a briefing for Parochial Church Councils in the Church of England –

“Just before Christmas, the House of Bishops published pastoral guidance which ‘welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people’ – and encourages clergy to use existing liturgy (of Baptism, Confirmation or the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith) if a transgender adult wishes to reaffirm their Christian faith and mark their transition.

This has caused considerable concern amongst lay and ordained members of the Church of England for a variety of theological and pastoral reasons. This briefing seeks to summarise some of those concerns and suggest ideas for further reading.”

Read the briefing, and related documents, here.

See also:

2,000 clergy sign letter saying new Church of England service for trans people may ‘harm’ childrenTelegraph.

“Some 2,155 bishops, priests and lay members of the church have added their names to the letter which condemns new guidance released last month on gender transition.”

Anglican Unscripted episode 477

This morning David Ould spoke with Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV about the controversy involving Dr. John Shepherd and the Anglican Centre in Rome.

They discuss the significance of Dr. Shepherd’s statement – released yesterday – affirming that he believes in the Resurrection. (See also davidould.net’s response to the statement.)

Archbishop of Canterbury urged to act over Vatican envoy who questioned resurrection

“A row has erupted within the Church of England as senior Anglicans are calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury to force his ambassador to the Vatican to resign because he does not believe Jesus rose from the dead.

It has emerged that Dr John Shepherd, an Australian cleric appointed last week as the new representative to Rome, had delivered a sermon in which he said Christians should be ‘set free’ from the traditional view of the resurrection. …

Reverend Dr Lee Gatiss, director of the church’s biggest evangelical group, said the situation was ‘utterly bizarre and absolutely inappropriate’ and Dr Shepherd should resign. …“

– Read the story from The Telegraph.

(Photo: Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby.)

Business ‘as usual’ for the Anglican Communion

These two stories illustrate the march of theological liberalism through the Anglican Communion:

One shows it doesn’t matter if you don’t believe the clear words of Scripture – and the other shows it does matter if you do believe the clear words of Scripture:

Anglican Ambassador to Rome denies the Resurrection of Christ – Archbishop Cranmer.

“The Anglican Centre in Rome is the Embassy of the Worldwide Anglican Communion to the Roman Catholic Church. Its Director is effectively the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ambassador to the Vatican; Justin Welby’s personal representative to the Holy See, tasked with pursuing peace and justice in the world and the promotion of Christian unity. …

The Interim Director is the Very Rev’d Dr John Shepherd, formerly Dean of St George’s Cathedral, Perth, Australia (and Chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford, 1980-1988). The Governing Body of the Anglican Centre in Rome no doubt carried out all the necessary due diligence to ensure Dr Shepherd’s impeccable record of sexual behaviour and moral probity. What a pity they didn’t delve into his theological orthodoxy.

He denies the physical resurrection of Jesus.

The Rev’d David Ould dug out the relevant sermon…”

US bishop faces “partial restriction on ministry” over same-sex marriage stance – Anglican Communion News Service.

The Bishop of Albany, William Love, has had a partial restriction placed on his ministry over his refusal to permit same sex marriages in his diocese. …

In November, Bishop William sent an eight-page letter to the Churches in his diocese, in the north of the US State of New York, saying that the resolution was “in direct conflict and contradiction to God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture.”

Today, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, announced that had placed a partial restriction on Bishop William’s ministry pending a preliminary investigation. …

he is “forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage” and he cannot “participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalising in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his Diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his Diocese or elsewhere.”

And some people wonder why GAFCON is needed.

See also:

Photo of Dr John Shepherd (left) via the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Letter to the Archbishop of York on Liturgy celebrating ‘Gender Transition’

“Your Grace, This letter to you is respectfully to express concerns about the liturgy commended by the House of Bishops in celebration of gender transition in local churches. As a member of Church Society, I would support the concern expressed by its director, Dr Lee Gatiss, about the use of the existing rite of affirmation of baptismal faith for this purpose.

He wrote: ‘The repurposing of liturgy like this is troubling. As a church whose doctrine is derived from Scripture and expressed in our liturgy, transitioning the meaning and purpose of liturgy looks like changing our fundamental doctrine by stealth’.

The theological reasons for the concerns about this liturgy have been well expressed in the various resources which Church Society has published and so there is no need to rehearse those arguments here.

But the specific issue I would like please to raise with you, if I may, relates to the potential misuse of the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy against frontline ministers who cannot in good conscience celebrate gender transitions.

Clause 2.4 of the Guidelines states quite rightly that ‘clergy should always be conscious of the power dynamics involved in their pastoral care, noting both the position of trust which they hold and the power which they exercise’. Clause 12.3 also states that ‘pastoral care should never seek to remove the autonomy given to the individual. In pastoral situations the other party should be allowed the freedom to make decisions that may be mistaken’.

That individuals must never be coerced or manipulated in pastoral conversations should not be in dispute. But gently inviting individuals in the light of the Holy Scriptures to think about the consequences of decisions they may be contemplating and lovingly warning them of the spiritual dangers of disobeying the Bible’s teaching should not, according to the Ordinal, be viewed as wrong. The Ordinal clearly enjoins clergy ‘to be messengers, watchmen, stewards of the Lord; to teach and to premonish, to feed and provide for the Lord’s family’.

The use of already canonically authorised liturgy for the purpose of celebrating gender transitions presents a new set of circumstances under which frontline clergy minister. So, the current uncertainty over whether the sensitive expression by clergy of spiritual and moral concerns about gender transition might be treated as an abuse of pastoral power poses a threat. Doubt about this would seem to leave clergy, who believe as a matter of deep theological conviction that gender transition is not in accordance with God’s good and loving will for people made in his image and who cannot in conscience affirm such transitions, vulnerable to having complaints of misconduct upheld against them under the Clergy Discipline Measure (2003).

As a parish incumbent, I ought to take my spiritual and moral accountability to my chief ministers under the infallible Word of God in the Bible very seriously. I should accept their ‘godly admonition’, which the Ordinal exhorts ordained presbyters to.

So, I think it is my duty to be clear with you as the senior pastor of the Province in which I minister that I would be morally bound to contest any CDM action brought against me for expressing concerns about gender transitions and not using the new liturgy. I would also be duty-bound to support any other licensed minister threatened with CDM action for following his or her biblically-informed conscience on this.

I believe I should show this letter to the Oughtibridge PCC so that they know where I stand on this issue as their servant in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This letter to you is also being forwarded to the Bishops serving Sheffield Diocese. It would be good to meet with them in the New Year, if they wanted, together with other colleagues who share these concerns.

With all Christian good wishes,

Julian Mann – Vicar, the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, in the Diocese of Sheffield.”

– The Rev. Julian Mann has sent this letter to the Archbishop of York. (Photo: Archbishop of York John Semantu.)

See also:

Church of England’s plan for transgender baptisms outrages bishopsThe Telegraph.

Reformation sights in Oxford

Moore College’s Lionel Windsor shares some sights from Oxford relating to the English Reformation.

“Right in front of the pillar and the picture of Cranmer was a little stand where people could pay a pound to light a candle.”

Accommodation is not Guidance

“On Tuesday 11th December the House of Bishops published ‘Pastoral Guidance for use in conjunction with the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith in the context of gender transition.’ Whilst sharing the desire to show pastoral care, the content of the Guidance causes me deep concern and I support the request from the Bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda for the reception of the Guidance to be reviewed. I note too the personal reservations expressed about it by the Chair of the House of Bishops’ Delegation Committee, The Rt Rev’d Julian Henderson, and commend the recent critiques produced by the Church Society and the Church of England Evangelical Council.

The Guidance represents a way of accommodating the request from the General Synod that the House of Bishops consider devising a liturgy for the welcome of transgender people. However, in doing so it has raised many more questions than it answers. These include:

Accordingly, I would support any move to change the status of this Guidance so that it is seen as a contribution to the LLF Project, rather than a finished product of the House of Bishops.”

– Bishop of Maidstone Rod Thomas has posted this statement on this website.

Earlier: Bishop Andy Lines on the Church of England’s guidance on liturgies to celebrate gender transition.

Next Page →