Anglican Church Definitively Condemned
It seems inevitable that severe disruption of some kind, if not a split, is going to occur in the Anglican church. This ought not discourage us on the face of it, for not all separations and splits are bad. The call to “come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing” (II Corinthians 6:17) remains, reminding us that it is the Living God Who is sovereign and His Word rules over churches, not the reverse.
What is discouraging is the extent of judicial blindness now manifest in the Anglican church. The Telegraph recently presented the thinking of bishops via a report, compiled by a panel of bishops, and issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York over the issue of homosexuality. As is so often the case in such matters it is the childish, asinine reasoning that accompanies the attempt to justify what is wicked that reveals so much about the spiritual condition of the denomination. What is the recommendation of the report?
The Church of England is preparing to break with centuries of official teaching by offering wedding-like services for gay and lesbian couples. A long-awaited report into the Church’s doctrine on sexuality recommends special blessing services to “mark” and “celebrate” permanent same-sex relationships for the first time. Traditionalists said the plan could trigger a split and mean abandoning historic teaching but gay rights campaigners described it as a “prayer answered”.
Why the change of centuries of official teaching? Well, firstly, there needs be the obligatory call for faux repentance–not against the “sin” of the church condemning homosexuality historically, but “real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past”. [Emphasis, ours]
We are well aware that the apologia for homosexuality presupposes, assumes, and asserts that homosexuality is a genetic condition, not a sin. It is thus natural, not evil. This assumption places homosexuality in the same category as ethnicity, skin colour, or albinism. Having placed homosexuality in that category, not to accept and welcome homosexuals in the church is thereby forbidden by those passages in God’s Word that condemn church divisions, factions, and quarrels and which declare that in Christ we Christians are all one.
This represents a massive exercise in question begging. It has no more credence than a false assumption being asserted as a verity, followed by a triumphant announcement that the argument is thereby won. One cannot assume what one must prove in order to carry the argument.
What would lead a church to fall into such intellectual and theological decrepitude? The report does not hold back from telling us. It criticises the Anglican church for failing to recognize and accept a rapid shift in public attitudes (towards homosexuality). It also points out that “many people now see the Church’s stance on homosexuality as “off-putting”.” The lust for public popularity and pagan acceptance are the prime drivers.
Several weeks ago, the Archbishop was lamenting the fact that not many young people now attended Anglican service and that Christianity was in danger of dying out in Great Britain within a generation. The Archbishop displayed thereby a startling lack of theological understanding about Who builds the Church. Instead of calling for faithfulness to Christ and His Word, he called for “relevance” to an anti-Christian majority. Cuddling up to homosexuality because public attitudes have changed, in an attempt to make the church less “off-putting”, flows through the same, treacherous vein.
Hilariously–mocking laughter is the appropriate response–the new report asserted that “the Bible does not “definitively” condemn sex between people of the same gender as a sin.” Apparently this means that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but not seriously so. Really? Yes, really. Let’s run with that one for a while. The Bible condemns prostitution. Yes, but not definitively, so it’s OK to welcome working boys and girls into the church–reflecting the change in public attitudes to the oldest profession in the world. It’s now legal after all. Yes, maybe the church should set up support classes to help enable male and female prostitutes to pry their trade more profitably. Maybe the names and phone numbers of the congregational tradespeople should be published to encourage trade with fellow congregants, prostitutes included. Then the church would be less “off-putting”.
The Bible appears to condemn rape. But hardly definitively, so let’s not be too negative or critical there. Rapists have needs and rights, and they have genetic dispositions as well. The Bible condemns theft–but not definitively. Remember how David stole Goliath’s sword after he murdered him, so let’s not be too loud in our denunciations of theft, or murder for that matter.
But this leaves the Anglican church in a bit of a pickle. Since it requires definitive biblical condemnation in order for something to be regarded as truly sinful, by what standard does “definitive condemnation” emerge? Fortunately, the Anglican church has a handy test. Anything that is widely acceptable to society at large cannot be definitively condemned in the Bible. In other words, the church’s real bible, its real source of authority, is popular approbation. To conform to that standard, the Bible must be twisted and reshaped like a wax nose.
Here’s how it works. For centuries, the Anglican church could believe and profess that the Bible definitively condemned homosexuality. But as soon as pagan society gets comfortable and cuddles up to homosexuality, hey presto, suddenly the definitive biblical condemnation disappears like a magician’s coin–and that’s ok, because the last thing the church wants to do is be “off-putting”. It’s a serious impediment to mission.
The reports lists key findings from a “listening process” including that: “Opposition to gay and lesbian relationships was a generational matter – it simply was not an issue for most young people. “The Church of England’s current teaching and practice were deeply off-putting to those outside the Church and therefore a serious impediment to mission.”
The bishop of Birkenhead, however, has it dead to rights:
I conclude with great regret that the Report thus does not give an adequate account of biblical teaching. As a result, if adopted, it will cut the Church adrift from her Scriptural moorings and, by depriving her of a prophetic vision, allow her to be swept along by the currents of contemporary Western culture. This is something which I cannot support.
These ecclesiastical, mincing steps around what the Bible does indeed condemn as evil, wicked, and sinful make it likely the church will split. Those who are in submission to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible will leave, either as individuals voting with their feet, or as an organised dissenting body. Either way, what will be left will be a burned out hulk.
When the Nazis bombed the cathedrals into smoking ruins few could have foreseen therein a prophetic forecast of the future days of the Anglican church.
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