General Synod November 2023: Selected reports and responses
Prayers of Love and Faith... in the words of the members. A summary of the debate in General Synod on whether to introduce prayers of blessing for same sex couples, with excerpts from a number of speeches, for and against. From Anglican Futures
Synod backs trial of special services asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples – Church of England Press Release after the motion was carried on 15th November.
Church of England backs services for gay couples – BBC News Report
General Synod agrees to trial services for same-sex couples after marathon debate, by Francis Martin, Church Times
Church of England General Synod backs trial of standalone services for same-sex blessings, by Susie Leafe, Christian Today
Gafcon warned in its Kigali statement in April:
“Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing… Any refusal to follow the biblical teaching that the only appropriate context for sexual activity is the exclusive lifelong union of a man and a woman in marriage violates the created order (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6) and endangers salvation (1 Corinthians 6:9).”
And in their most recent statement following the Synod vote, the Gafcon Primates say:
“the Church of England has made it clear that they disagree with Holy Scripture”, and that as a result of the Synod vote, “clergy in Church of England churches will be able to do what the prophet Balaam could not and would not do by going against the Word of God and blessing that which God has condemned (Num 24:12-14).”
Statement from Archbishop Justin Badi, Chair of GSFA: “This disastrous decision creates the same serious consequences of differentiation and division as in other provinces and further fractures our beloved Anglican Communion.”
Rt Rev Dr Rob Munro, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, writes in a letter to members: The Synod has supported the House of Bishops’ proposal which, while not proposing to change the doctrine or teaching on marriage and sexual practice at least in an ‘essential matter’, will nevertheless allow something explicitly against the 1998 Lambeth resolution 1.10, which has caused the ‘tear in the fabric’ of the Anglican Communion when propagated elsewhere. It is a tragedy that the Church of England should allow that tear to widen, not only in the wider Communion, but now in the Church of England itself.
‘Joy comes in the morning’ – Martin Davie, Reflections of an Anglican Theologian: “…what the majority of the House of Bishops support, and what they will now go on to implement, fails to satisfy the requirements of the motion passed by Synod in February and the requirements of Canon law…Even more fundamentally, by so doing it also departs from the teaching of Scripture and the entire teaching of the Church Catholic since the time of the apostles.”
‘For those at a crossroads’ - Bishops of the Anglican Network in Europe say: “…a majority at General Synod voted to continue to travel along a road that arrogantly rejects the authority of scripture, the historic teaching of the church from earliest times and the vast majority of Anglicans worldwide. They have walked away from the life transforming grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Excerpt from CEEC statement Responding to the 15 November 2023 General Synod decision: looking forward:
CEEC is compelled to stand with those who now find their consciences deeply troubled – and to make temporary provisions that enable them – at least for now – to remain a part of the Church of England whilst more formal and official provision is pursued…First, CEEC will respond to requests for spiritual oversight from those who now feel themselves to be in impaired fellowship with their diocesan bishop(s)… Second, CEEC is launching on Monday 20 November a new national Fund called the Ephesian Fund…to continue to support orthodox Anglican ministry when in good conscience [parishes] might otherwise withdraw or reduce their giving to their parish church as a result of their bishop’s support for the Prayers of Love and Faith initiative.
Mark Thompson: “We can all let the heartache at God’s word being trampled by those charged with preaching it and defending it distract us from the victory of Christ, the urgency of his call to faith and repentance, and the clear, gracious yet insistent preaching of the gospel and its implications. But we cannot afford to do so….even as we respond in tears to what has been done by the leadership (so-called) of the Church of England. Let’s get back to the core truths and hold on to them even more tightly.”
From The tragedy and the bigger picture, by Mark Thompson, Principal, Moore College, Sydney.
No crumb of comfort in a tragic and disastrous Church of England decision – Dominic Steele interviews Vaughan Roberts on ‘The Pastor’s Heart’ podcast. Vaughan mentions Gafcon and ANiE warmly, but explains why he and the majority of faithful Anglicans believe they can and will remain in the Church of England, using the provisions outlined by CEEC.
Independent church pastor and insightful commentator Stephen Kneale articulates some challenges which all who plan to remain in the C of E need to address. He does not say all faithful Anglicans must leave the C of E, but:
“You can be a practising Anglican elsewhere, in another body, operating under the oversight of bishops who are not unbelievers…find communion that is apart from the unfaithful Church of England structures. As I understand it, there are a raft of options for those in such a position.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gafcon GBE wants to assure readers that while the main news of this month is the Church of England General Synod decision on blessing of same sex relationships, we recognise that the Church of England is only a part of global Anglicanism. We encourage readers to visit the main GAFCON site, for news and especially daily prayer items from around the world.
Israel and Gaza: a selection of views and reports.
Sir Terry Waite: Nelson Mandela figure needed to resolve Middle East conflict, by Jamel Smith, The Independent
16 Evangelical Alliances Call for Gaza Ceasefire, Condemn Hamas, from Christianity Today
French evangelicals join 100,000 against antisemitism in Paris. From Evangelical Focus. Almost all political parties were represented in the peaceful march. The French National Council of Evangelical Christians condemns the one thousand antisemitic acts recorded in recent weeks.
Is a ceasefire in Gaza the right way forward? Martin Davie, writing in Christian Today, responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury who has added his voice to calls for a ceasefire.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali conversion
The renowned former Muslim politician and writer from East Africa who moved to the Netherlands in the 90’s and then faced death threats for her high profile embrace of ‘new atheism’ 20 years ago, has now converted to Christianity.
Why I am now a Christian: Atheism can't equip us for civilisational war, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, unherd. She says:
“Western civilisation is under threat from three different but related forces: the resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation….
…Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realisation that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?”
More from Ayaan Hirsi Ali in this interview with Freddie Sayers of unherd
Ban on ‘conversion therapy’: latest
Ban on conversion therapy could be forced through Parliament by Tory rebels after it is left out of Rishi Sunak’s King’s Speech, by Martin Beckford, Daily Mail:
Christian Institute steps up campaign against ‘ideological and restrictive’ conversion practices Bill
Coalition of conservative thinkers gather for important conference
Calling Western Civilisation to its senses: report on the conference of Alliance for Responsible Citizenship, held Oct 30 – Nov 1 in London. By John Duggan, First Things.
In her opening remarks, ARC CEO Philippa Stroud lost little time in invoking the imago dei as a cornerstone of the Alliance’s worldview. “We need a better story” was the conference catch-cry; and, of course, in large part, Western civilization grew out of the telling and retelling (in word, in paint, in stone, in music, in drama) of the Christian story and its countless offshoots; the story of creation, fall, incarnation, justice, mercy, death, resurrection, redemption—a story imbued with the kind of teleology of which the modern mind, ARC would contend, is bereft."
Welsh Christianity’s Surprising Rise and Decline. Interview with David Ceri Jones, author of ‘A History of Christianity in Wales’. From The Gospel Coalition
Honouring a great evangelical Anglican servant
Roger T. Beckwith (1929-2023): A Tribute, by Andrew Atherstone.
“Roger Beckwith’s many decades of theological industry on behalf of the evangelical cause in the Church of England are interwoven with the story of Latimer House, the forerunner of Latimer Trust… launched in 1960 as an Anglican evangelical research centre. Cambridge boasted Tyndale House, a global leader in evangelical biblical research. Latimer House was designed along similar lines to promote the study of evangelical doctrine, liturgy, history and ecclesiology. It was born at a moment of urgent crisis in the Church of England.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
* see also this month’s editorial *
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~