A change in church doctrine?

Around the region:

Westhill Community Church, Aberdeen. Rev David McCarthy, will be installed as new Rector, by Bishop Andy Lines on Saturday 2nd March. The service may be watched online.

Anglican Missionary Congregations have recently launched new churches in Leicester, Oldham and Aberdeen.

Representatives from the Church of England, Free Church of England, Anglican Network in Europe, AMC and Gafcon Ireland are in discussion about how to best report the complex situation in our region to the Gafcon Primates at their forthcoming meeting. Prayers needed.

Church of England: LLF latest

LLF and General Synod: all fouled up and beyond repair?

What sort of story is Living in Love and Faith?

By Andrew Goddard, Psephizo. In these articles Goddard gives compelling evidence of episcopal dishonesty, deception, ignoring advice, and deliberately overriding established church doctrine and procedure during the lead-up to November General Synod and its aftermath. His conclusions are illustrated by the next piece:

‘Why I support gay marriage’: liberal journalist Theo Hobson interviews Bishop of Oxford Steven Croft in The Spectator [£].

“[Hobson]…I put it to him that it’s incoherent to say that we want gay blessings, gay clergy, gay marriage, but we still want to keep the old doctrine of marriage in place. In reality the doctrine needs to be changed, doesn’t it?

He [Croft] pauses. ‘Um, yes and no. What I am wanting to argue for is not a complete abolition of the doctrine of marriage, it’s an extension of it, to see the goods of marriage, or many of those goods, in same-sex relationships.’

[Hobson] OK, but that’s still a change to doctrine, and the leadership is discouraging honesty about that, isn’t it?

He [Croft] replies with steady care. ‘I think it’s good to advocate honesty in argument and debate, but also that it’s possible to advocate honesty and also accept incremental change as the best, or best possible available, route towards change.’”

wolf in sheep clothing

A paper (GS2346) produced in advance of General Synod aimed to bring together those of different views, but further alienated conservatives and revisionists:

On not saying anything significant – a response to GS 2346, by Martin Davie.. “Their [the C of E bishops’] current approach is untheological, goes against the doctrine of the Church of England, and will not produce the kind of settlement that they say they want. They need to go away and think again…”

Living in Love, Faith and Reconciliation: an exercise in bait and switch, from Anglican Futures.

The chaos of disunity became worse after one of the lead bishops for LLF resigned at the beginning of February, apparently in protest at the appointment of a theological advisor with conservative views. The remaining lead bishop, Martyn Snow, has sought to establish a new process of “rebuilding trust”. Church Times reports here.

+ Martyn Snow


CofE bishops offer ‘theological vision’ on Christian life and discipleship. Signed by eight bishops, the document published in Premier Christianity outlines a conservative view of sex and marriage, as a basis for clergy and laity to unite against further LLF proposals. The intervention appears to be very late in the day, and also does not address the decision by Synod to permit same-sex blessings.

LLF at General Synod February 23-27:

The motion for debate read as follows:

‘That this Synod welcome the further work carried out on Living in Love and Faith and the focus on reconciliation and bridge building; and ask that the proposal for a set of commitments through which the whole Church can continue to pursue the implementation of the motions previously passed by Synod on Living in Love and Faith, be brought back to Synod as soon as possible.’

The lead bishop and other speakers emphasised the need for reconciliation and mutual acceptance of different views: a “comprehensive vision which holds together both ends of the spectrum.” Some evangelicals tried to introduce amendments to reflect the need for “differentiation” between those of differing views, and for a “settlement based on legally secure structural provision”.’ These amendments were defeated. See this report from Anglican Futures. Others take a more optimistic view.

Meanwhile it was pointed out many times in the debates that church attendance numbers continue to decline rapidly. More reports and comments will follow in the media in days to come. Please continue to pray for wisdom for biblically faithful Church of England leaders, as they seek to discern the way ahead. And give thanks for the development of new ways of being Anglican outside Canterbury structures.

Other news and views

‘Conversion Therapy’

A private member’s bill to introduce a comprehensive ban, threatening freedom of speech, prayer and biblical teaching, is rejected by the House of Lords, but not before C of E bishops are reported to be giving “qualified support” to a re-drafted ban. The C of E has issued a substantial new Briefing Paper which gives background to this: it appears to support some kind of legal restrictions on practices such as “coercive” prayer for and counselling of LGBT people carried out within church and pastoral settings, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of freedom of belief, and admitting that claims of “harm” may in the end be predominantly subjective. It is chilling that the Church of England leadership is colluding with secular pressure groups to potentially restrict pastoral practice in this way.

Meanwhile church support agency CPAS, which has a strong evangelical foundation, reiterated an orthodox stance on sexuality issues in a 2023 document “Outworkings of faith” (see point nos. 6 and 7). After furious push-back from Anglicans in favour of change to doctrine and practice, and threats to their continued respected status in parishes and on youth camps, CPAS have issued a statement emphasising a policy of welcome and inclusion of all, and opposition to conversion therapy (without defining it).

CPAS logo


Sharing Christ with and caring for immigrants.

UK churches defend their role in welcoming asylum seekers interested in the Christian faith. Report from Evangelical Focus briefly summarises the recent controversy, and includes an interview with an Evangelical Alliance spokesman, who says “paying attention to how “hospitality and welcome of churches could be abused (…) shouldn’t stop churches from opening their doors, introducing people to Jesus, and celebrating when people come to faith.”

Understanding culture

How the luxury beliefs of an educated elite erode society, by Rob Henderson, The Times.

The affluent, educated elites “wield outsized social influence and are disproportionately likely to hold luxury beliefs that undermine social mobility.” Advocating liberal ideologies and policies sex and family life, law enforcement, drugs etc costs these elites nothing but improves their social status. Meanwhile these agendas are very harmful to the poor.

This common sense insight by a secular journalist provides at least part of the explanation why so many from the elite classes in the Church of England leadership have abandoned the teaching of the bible and embraced ‘progressive’ ideologies, and what the disastrous outcome will be.

Two good articles about marriage and singleness from The Gospel Coalition:

Promote Marriage and Dignify Singleness by Prioritizing God’s Mission, by Jared Kennedy.

Good News About Christian Marriages, by Katelyn Walls Shelton. A review of a new book written for a secular audience, which shows how marriage and faith are good for individuals and society.

Gold rings

Clergy well-being

See also: Clergy in Living Ministry study report suffering depression, from Church Times. Decline in attendance, financial pressures and isolation are among the causes of worsening mental health among C of E clergy.

And a helpful, challenging and encouraging piece for clergy and others in ministry that often seems draining and discouraging: “I’d rather leave”, by Paul Coulter, Living Leadership.On the day when I wrote this post, I was speaking to a leader who told me that half the ministers in his area belonging to his denomination have taken stress-related leave in the past year. Meanwhile, others have taken early retirement because they can’t face continuing.” Coulter gives some helpful pointers to enable resilience.

Let’s pray with compassion for all our ministers!


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