Wednesday, 25 April 2012

From the GAFCON/FCA gathering in Battersea

Leadership Conference, London 2012 of GAFCON/FCA

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala Chairman’s keynote address

Monday 23rd at St Marks Battersea Rise (download PDF of this speech)

A Global communion for the twenty-first Century:

Praise the Lord!

It is a great joy to greet all of you in my capacity as the Chairman of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the precious name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, through whom we are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. I believe that our time together here is a key moment in the unfolding purpose of God for our beloved Anglican Communion and its great encouragement to have leaders drawn from some thirty [30] different nations as we gather here this evening. We are indeed a global communion for the twenty-first century. We have come together because of the Lord’s leading as we follow His guidance towards overcoming challenges of our times and the continuing crisis which afflicts our Communion. I want to frame my address with some words of scripture in Micah which I believe are a particular word from the Lord for us right now.

Micah was a prophet during a particular time of crisis in the history of God’s people, the later half of the eighth century BC, during which the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, lost their identity and the people of the South: Judah nearly suffered the same fate. In Micah 6:8 we read:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
And to walk humbly with your God.
What does the Lord require of you?

This is the greatest question facing us this week.  It demands that we have a clear headed understanding of the situation we face and are willing to let go of comfortable illusions. It also, and most crucially, calls us back to what God has said. Micah affirms that “he has showed you, O man, what is good”. Discovering the will of God, what God requires, is not dependent upon our ingenuity or imagination. He does not play games with us. He speaks through the scriptures. The question is whether or not we will allow the Holy Spirit to apply that word to our hearts and then obey it.

What does the Lord require? First we need to bring a biblical mind to the situation we face. None of us looked for this crisis and we may be tempted to think we can get back to a time when the life of our communion ran along more predictable and familiar lines. But that is an illusion. Faith is not escapism, but facing things as they are in the confidence that God will act. The crisis we face is also an opportunity. Its origin can be traced back many years. The unprecedented challenges to Anglican identity forced upon us by the revisionist scriptural interpretation have in the mercy of God, given us an historic opportunity to rediscover the distinctive reformed catholicity of our Communion as shaped so profoundly by the witness of the sixteenth century Anglican Reformers.

Trusting God’s providence, we can be confident that in God’s own time He is putting right what has been going wrong, but He takes us up into His purposes and if we are to understand the implications of this crisis for the recovery and renewal of Anglican identity, we must first be clear on what sort of crisis it is.
We cannot treat this as simply an institutional crisis. The breakdown of the existing governance structures of the Anglican Communion is a symptom of a deeper problem. It is now generally recognized that the instruments of Unity eg. The Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth conference… no longer command general confidence.

Subsequently, when the Global South Movement Primates gathered in China last September felt compelled to state in a communiqué that;

‘the Anglican Communion’s instruments of Unity have become dysfunctional and no longer have the ecclesial and moral authority to hold the communion together’.

If we were facing a merely institutional problem, then we would have expected that the heavy investment made in Anglican Covenant would have brought a resolution. But now with the rejection of the Covenant, even in the Church of England itself, it is obvious that institutional remedies for the crisis have failed and that the problems we face are far too deep seated to be dealt with by merely managerial and organizational strategies. As Primates of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, we recognized in our communiqué of November 2010 that the Anglican Covenant was I quote: “Fatally flawed!” It had become clear that it was little more than a form of words to disguise conflict rather than resolve it. The heart of the crisis we face is not institutional, but spiritual.

Micah can ask ‘what does the Lord require?’

In the confidence of that what the Lord requires has already been revealed. But the Lambeth Conference of 1998 showed that a determined minority were willing to bend the word of God to fit the fashionable ideas of their cultural context and that they were not willing to stand in solidarity with the clear mind of the communion’s bishops when opinion was tested.

The subsequent history of our communion unfolds from this point. Some sections of the Anglican Communion have been echoing the words of the serpent; ‘has God really said…?’ And their strategy has been to continue this dialogue endlessly in order to wear down resistance while all the time pursuing their self determined mandate of radical inclusion. In this they have been greatly helped by those Anglican theologians who claim that our identity is found in what they call ‘the grammar of obedience.’ They want us to step back from the plain sense of scripture and excavate ‘deeper truths’ of God’s revelation concealed below the words themselves. It is little surprise then that we find scripture can be bent into all sorts of convenient shapes and that so called ‘gospel’ truths can contradict the plain meaning of scriptures.

While we should never shirk the hard work of biblical exposition, we can never disregard the plain teaching of the inspired text. It is that text, that Archbishop Cranmer was so keen to have available in the English languages in every parish church and translation of the scriptures into ethnic languages has been fundamental to the cultural transformation that the gospel brought in Africa and the rest of the world. The ‘grammar of obedience’ is a theological Trojan horse for profound disobedience. This accommodation to false teaching by Anglican Communion institutions has had a grievous effect.

Let me illustrate by contrasting between our conference in Jerusalem in 2008 which launched the GAFCON movement and the Lambeth conference which took place shortly afterwards.

In the space of a week we, though from many and varied cultural contexts, were able to agree and receive with great joy and celebration a clear statement of Anglican Identity in the form of the Jerusalem Declaration. We rejoiced that through the Holy Spirit the Lord had given us such unity in the truth and we knew that God was setting us free or a clear and confident witness to Jesus Christ in a way that was simply not imaginable through the traditional channels.

At Lambeth Conference, which many felt unable in conscience to attend, it was a different story. Much talking and conversation, but no shared mind and no attempt to resolve the substance of the fundamental doctrinal and ethical differences which have been so destructive to our unity. At Lambeth there was a loss of nerve and nothing more than conversation, at Jerusalem we boldly reaffirmed our confidence in the faith we confess. There we recovered our genuinely Anglican identity and in the Jerusalem Declaration set out a coherent framework for global witness in the twenty-first century. The Jerusalem Statement, the preamble to the Declaration, clearly sets out Anglican identity. Let me remind you;

We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient fathers and Councils of the church as are agreeable to the said scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayers and the Ordinal. We intend to remain faithful to this standard and we call on others in the communion to reaffirm and return to it.

Our conference in Jerusalem was truly a mountain top experience, a rich time of fellowship in the Holy Spirit, of inspired teaching and prophetic insights. But we have to come down from the mountain top and not simply rest on the experience or think that by articulating a vision we have somehow done our work. What does the Lord require? He requires, says Micah: that we act, that we act justly and with mercy, not just write and think about things. We must act out of our God given identity, we must be true to ourselves as we are in Christ crucified, redeemed through the cross where God’s Justice and Mercy meet. This is what it means to act with authenticity. It is not a matter of following our subjective dreams and feelings, but being true to the one who has risen from the dead, so that we might live not for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again for us.

Living in this way is beyond our human capacities. In the words of the collect for the Nineteenth Sunday of Trinity in the Book of Common Prayer we pray:

“ … forasmuch as without thee, we are not able to please thee; mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts.”

This for me is a personal truth. On being elected as Chairman of GAFCON/FCA’s Primates council in April last year, I said this:

I recognize that we have set ourselves a truly monumental task, but we serve God for whom nothing, not even overcoming death itself is impossible.’

So we must act in obedience to what the Lord requires and, knowing our weakness, in continual dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a truth which is precious to some of us through our roots in the East African Revival when the spirit of God renewed the church brining a humble walk with God- conviction of sins, a thirst for God’s word, a simple lifestyle and an unquenchable desire for evangelism. It is these qualities that we need to animate our Global fellowship as we move forward together. As a powerful movement of renewal and transformation for that is what we are.

Since 2008, we have acted, perhaps not always as quickly or as clearly as we should, but there has been action. In accordance with the Jerusalem Declaration, the GAFCON primates sponsored the Anglican Church in North America as a new province and ceased to be in communion with The Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada. It is a cause of great joy to see that despite aggressive use of the courts and the loss of property which previous generations intended for the work of the gospel, the ACNA is far from being just a place of shelter for the wounded. It is dynamic missionary body which is growing remarkably through visionary church planting.

Last year, it became clear that provision need to be made for England too. The Anglican Mission in England was formed last June after four years of discussion with senior Anglican leaders in England had failed to find a way in which those genuinely in need of effective orthodox oversight in the Church of England could receive it.

This week we will apply ourselves to discerning the next stage in what it is the Lord requires. I hope that our taking counsel together will lead to action that will shape the future of the Communion in profound ways but as we pay attention to the great questions of theology and strategy, we need to be careful not to neglect the way we act towards each other so that there is a consistency and integrity to the identity we claim.
To act justly and to love Mercy includes behaving towards one another with honesty and fairness, as ends and not means, not being infected by cynicism and pragmatism that can creep in when issues of power and influence are at stake. It is true that the FCA is a prophetic movement and God has given us some stern things to say, but the sternness should be all the more striking because of the kindness and generosity for which we are known.

And all this we do with humility and prayer, not setting ourselves up above the word, but recognizing that it is the Word of God which judges and searches us. We shall also be alert to the fact that the word, which is God’s truth for all cultures and all times is not the privilege possession of any one culture and global gathering such as this has a potential to open new perspectives on the unsearchable riches of Christ.

To do what the Lord requires will also take courage. These are things we need to attend to if the Anglican Communion is to recover its biblical identity. The challenges are indeed monumental and I think they can be summarized as follows:

1. We must keep the glory of God and the fulfillment of the great commission at the heart of the movement. We defend the gospel because we want to promote the gospel. GAFCON was launched as a rescue mission for the Anglican Communion, but that is because the communion itself should be a rescue mission. In particular we should be building global partnership to encourage evangelism and church planting.  We need each other, for instance the south can benefit from the experience of those in the North who have resisted and understand the dynamics of a western secularizing culture which is rapidly spreading around the globe. The North also can benefit from the Missionary enthusiasm and vigor which is characterizing the growing Churches of the global South. As a global communion we should be at the forefront of the work. We cannot be content for Anglicanism to be as a kind of chaplaincy to dwindling enclaves of those who have been left behind by the tide of history.

2. We should look to the pioneer the new wineskin of the global governance structures which will help and not hinder the task of evangelism. Four years ago the Jerusalem Statement spoke of the ‘manifest failure’ of the instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion, and since then it has become entirely clear that these instruments have failed us. Orthodox leaders must now do more than simply stay away. We have to go back to the basic principles and develop new structures while remaining firmly within the Anglican Communion. We need to consider how we can build on the model of councilor leadership initiated in Jerusalem in 2008 with the setting up of the GAFCON primate’s council. Our communion has come of age and it is now time that its leadership should be focused not on one person or one church, however hallowed its history, but on the one historic faith we confess. There is added urgency to these concerns and need for creative thinking so that a pattern of global governance that is no longer fit for this context is not perpetuated by default.

3. We must resist the temptation to be theologically lazy. Our aim of a renewed, reformed Anglican Communion will not be sustained if we are unwilling to support and encourage those who are gifted to do the training and the theological heavy lifting so essential to give depth and penetration to our vision both within the Church and beyond it. We need to recover the vision of the Anglican Reformers, of ordinary believers knowing scriptures and being nourished by biblical teaching. Equally we need leaders, lay and ordained, able to give a robust defense of apostolic faith in the global public square. If we do not, secular ideologies which have so powerfully shaped liberal and revisionist Christianity in the Communion will tighten the grip. The Lord our God cannot allow it. He calls us to move on.

So what does the Lord require? He has called us to a great prophetic purpose at this critical point in the life of our communion. After some 450 years it is becoming clear that what some have called the ‘Anglican experiment’ is not ending in failure, but is on the verge of a new and truly global future in which the original vision of the reformers can be realized as never before. We do not need to repudiate or belittle our history, but learn from it and set ourselves now to walk humbly with our God into the future and that hope that he has planned for us.

May I take this opportunity as I end my remarks and invite you and your churches to GAFCON II in May of 2013.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN!

Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend:


  1. I am curious as to why blogging is being restricted?

  2. Apart from thinking this a very poor speech, in its content, it has been interesting to watch how the information control has been managed by the organisers of these events.By that I mean the meeting in Jerusalem and the like.

    The Anglican Communion Office has demonstrably lost control of the information release from gatherings it serviced and the consequences have been dire. Many of those who are part of the organisers here enjoyed helping to spin those meetings to their advantage, they are clearly not going to see the same happening to themselves! One of the outcomes of this overwhelming news control/information sifting is the low level impact these events have achieved outside their own natural circle. There is a keen desire NOT to have a warts an all view of the happenings.

    But there is a massive confusion at the base of this new thing. I notice C R Seitz honing in on it at T19.

    If it is a new thing and it is of God then I - and all people of good will - wish it very well. But under the varnish of excitement and enthusiasm I believe it is just a power grab.

  3. I wouldn't call this censorship. The point is, this is a potentially controversial conference tackling some controversial issues. What they didn't want was people blogging, tweeting and facebooking that "Bishop so-and-so just said this," or "Bishop so-and-so said that," and it getting all over the blogosphere.

    As far as I am aware, some of the main presentations will be available at some stage.

    personally, I will probably post something (a) when I'm not falling asleep at the keyboard and (b) when the conference is over and we've had a chance to reflect.

  4. Martin, I think you're getting the wrong end of the stick. No one has said we can't blog, etc. There was just a note in the programme asking us to watch what we said and (as I recall) not to quote anyone without showing them first.

    One of the differences with this and other gatherings, I suspect, is that everyone is on the same page, so 'control' is not really an issue.

  5. Yes John, that's precisely the stick-end I am holding and shaking.

    But saying the Jerusalem Declaration was not of the best and could be improved left me blinking and wondering how wide and deep or 3D that "same page" is .....

    With my sincere hopes of a blessing from the gathering for you.

  6. One of my favourite Ned Flander’s quotes is: I’m a Christian, it’s my duty to think the worst...’ So it comes as no surprise that a request not to blog and tweet during a conference is seen by some as ‘censorship’. I attend many academic conferences (in the UK and abroad) and it is not unusual for certain conferences to request blogging and tweeting is restricted, at least during the conference.

    I worry about this current fashion of looking to Africa as the bastion of Christian/Anglican orthodoxy. It has the flavour of something akin to 19th century Orientalism – seeing some cultures outside the occidental world as ‘simpler’, more earnest etc. ‘The Noble Savage’ being the most patronising and racist version of these worldview. Obviously I doubt many Western Christians see African Christians in such simplistic or patronising terms. Yet I think there is an idealism, fuelled by the simple fact a wealth of African dioceses maintain a conservative line when it comes to homosexuality.

    In the mid-80s, a friend and I worked as lay-workers at a fairly well-known Evangelical Anglican church. My friend warned me away from any taint of liberal thinking – citing the example of our Anglican brethren in Africa. Ten years later he and his wife went out with CMS to Kenya to teach at a theological college.

    Below are quotes from an e-mail from me to this same friend and his reply, written last year.

    Me :“my experience of a good portion of African Christianity here in London [is that it seems ruled by the] commandment ‘Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out’! Or at least resort to ‘easy’ morality – hence, in my view, the vicious and disproportionate opprobrium of homosexuality among many of these churches.”

    My friend’s reply: “Your observations re the public/private resonate with our experience in Kenya...”

    My friend no longer sees African Anglicanism as a bastion of orthodoxy... His experiences in Kenya and Nigeria have cured him of such foolish idealism!

  7. Well, then, peter, we must pray for African Christians, just as we must pray for the Church IN England.

    There was hypocrisy and immorality in the NT church too (see the 'charsimatic' church of Corinth, or half the churches in Revelation), but that neither excuses their behaviour nor changes the way we read the doctrinal exhortations. And I'm always struck by paul's command in Ephesians that the thief should "no longer steal". What kind of church is THAT?

    I've just sat through some of the best seminars on family and married life I've ever heard from two lovely Africans, but everything they were saying indicated they have just the same problems there as here. perhaps some of us are naive, but I don't think that naivety is shared by every African.

  8. It is censorship and another problem is the travel implications of such a large group flying and contributing to global warming. Plus both sides of the current problem in the Anglican communion claim they are led by the Holy Spirit, so can the HS work against himself? I find all this a little silly and comical from the Anglican Church. I speak as an outsider as we are watching with interest on how the AC is fighting itself to a very dark place!

  9. Peter you know the books on East and West African Christianity by Paul Gifford who used to lecture in the Religious Studies Dept at SOAS? They give a very interesting historical/sociological insight into the nature of much African Christianity.

    Perry Butler

  10. Revd John

    Thanks for this. I am certainly not saying the African churches have any more problems than European and American. What I am saying is that it is something akin to idolatry for Western Christians to hold these churches up as examples of orthodoxy simply because many of these churches happen push a conservative reading of the Bible when it comes to homosexuality. There is also a ‘turning a blind eye’ to a good deal of behaviour and culture that is certainly not in line with orthodox Christian teaching.

    When I worked for an inner London borough I became (& remain) friendly with our team’s Kenyan 50+ admin worker. She was openly Christian (‘Jesus Saves’ stickers on her computer screen etc. – I know Anglican Mainstream and the Christian Institute et el pushing the victimhood of Christians suggest such things aren’t allowed in the workplace – but I’ve never seen any evidence for this in London boro’s!!). One day she and I got talking about the present problems of the Anglican Church and she noted that homosexuality wasn’t a problem in Kenya, because there were no homosexuals in Kenya; she went on to say that the Bible is clear that homosexual practice is wrong. Six months or so later, I found her very glum and asked her why – she confided to me that her husband had found out about an affair she had been having. I asked how this ‘affair’ sat with her Biblical orthodoxy – she replied that having extra marital sex was culturally acceptable and she knew her husband engaged in similar activity.

    A lesser portion of my palliative care work involved working with people with AIDS defining cancers (Berkett’s Lymphoma etc.) – which in London means mainly heterosexual Africans – who are usually (and ironically) Evangelical Christians. In fact it is fairly safe to state that the more Christian an African country correlates with a higher HIV prevalence (see: Kenya is a case in point – its HIV prevalence rate has fallen from a peak of around 13% in 2000 to approx. 7% today (see: To put this in perspective the UK’s prevalence rate is 0.2% and the USA’s 0.6%. What this tells us is that Christian Africa has very different sexual mores than Muslim Africa.

    I think it is safe to say that African rabid opposition to homosexuality has little to do with Biblical orthodoxy, since, when it comes to heterosexuality a sizable proportion of African Christians seem well able to nimbly tread a path between their Biblical Christianity and their non-Biblical sexual behaviour (not to mention considerable evidence of a relaxed attitude to honesty and financial propriety – see: ). Obviously there are substantial cultural issues, which I don’t have time and space to bore you with here. Yet it seems clear to me that with African Christianity, as within much Western conservative Christianity, the homosexual is fulfilling that need for a scapegoat, so prevalent in many religions. A means of presenting a semblance of righteousness that coincidentally just happens to have very little personal cost (if you don’t happen to be queer).

    I must confess to having little liking myself for the liberal excesses of certain flavours of Anglicanism. All I ask for is proportionality - and that is where GAFCON, AM etc. fail. There is much within ‘mainstream’ Anglicanism here in the UK and abroad that needs radical change – the issue of homosexuality is insignificant when weighed against these! To quote the Revd John Richardson:

    ‘My experience within conservative evangelical circles is that there are many areas of life - for example to do with business, ambition, class, culture, etc - where we do not give nearly enough attention to the implications of the gospel. We are good on a narrow range of things, but we have yet to achieve anything like the breadth of application of our forebears...’

    Wise words indeed...

  11. @ Perry Butler – thanks for this. There is a paucity on contemporary books on the topic. I soldered away at Peter Clarke’s book on West African Christianity last year and it was rather dated. I have come across some of Gifford’s work in academic journals – (as part of my PhD I had to make a sortie into studies of African immigrant churches in the UK and on the effects of Globalisation and have come across Gifford’s work – in addition to my assistant lecturing post at a sister college of SOAS, where Gifford was on the reading list of the module I helped teach and mark the resultant essays and exams). However I have not read the book you mention. I’m set for a session in various Uni of London libraries tomorrow, so will check it out.

    Thanks: P.D.

  12. I don't think it's censorship. Unfortunately, it's common sense. Too many people would love to grab comments and quotes out of context and use them to their own advantage. I'm not suggesting that the delegates would do that, but anything they post/tweet/text in haste could be misused.

    Around 25 years ago I was at a conference where Archbishop Robert Runcie was commending the CofE for its (then) unity. I saw the correspondent from 'The Times' was busy with his shorthand pad in the front row: the next morning, 'The Times' lead with 'Archbishop warns of division within the Church'. See what I mean?

    1. Well said! I suspect it is to stop 'News 24 Syndrome' - the eagerness by which BBC News 24 tries to fill the airwaves with speculation and innuendo, when a little 'sober reflection' would give us something worth listening to - rather than pre-packed ready to wear opinions that are a sign of consumerism muscling its way into the media, as elsewhere.

  13. Now my claim just HAS to be true!
    David Virtue is claiming there is a "news blackout" - So there, argue with that, John.

    But, are there journalists in the room?
    Is even that very poor journalist George Conger there?
    I can't even see any reports from Anglican TV .....

    No, just the the "off the same page" press releases .....
    I can just hear the howls of outrage from some there at being excluded. Do you remember all those hastily arranged vacations in Ireland when the Primates Group met at the Dromantine - all the mobile being given out by the handlers and the secret meetings in local hotels ......

  14. To my mind, this "privacy" leads to the same clergy/laity divide referred to in your previous topic, John!

    Were the laity of St Mark's Church, Battersea, informed of this primatial gathering in the church which they consider "home"?

    Was the Bishop of Southwark given the opportunity to express an opinion about primates "crossing boundaries" to meet on his "patch"?

    Did other avowed evangelical clergy from the diocese of Southwark opposed to "separatism" know that GAFCON/FCA were proselytising in their diocese?

    This smacks of opportunism in every direction. Apart from being extremely "cheeky" in establishing a beachhead in proposing a change of method in the chairmanship of the Anglican Communion from within the capital of England and its established church, it was hosted by someone who is part of Co-Commission, on the board of Reform and a leader in New Wine.

    If I was a betting person (which I'm not as an evangelical), I'd bet that there has been very little involvement on the part of lay evangelicals in the decision to host this conference in the UK. Neither would they be happy if it was thought that New Wine could "deliver" its evangelicals into the hands of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans - New Wine not being solely Anglican!

    Beryl Polden, Wirral

  15. Well, Martin, if David says it, it must be true, and my tweets must have been imaginary! ;-)

  16. Beryl, the Bish of Southwark was here a couPle of days ago and brought greetings from the ABP of Canterbury. No 'hole in a corner' thing here.

  17. John,

    I am genuinely pleased that Bishop Christopher was at St. Mark's, Battersea - because the primates from other countries need to meet the diocesans against whom there is so much feeling, particularly the diocesan of Southwark at this moment in time.

    I have appended web addresses demonstrating this feeling, two of which are current this week.

    The first describes why FCAUK is NOT good news for the Diocese of Southwark - by the chairman of the evangelical forum, Fulcrum.

    The second is by "the urban pastor" who has you on his blogroll. The additional comments by a reader are enlightening:

    The third is a further statement by the chairman of Fulcrum regarding separatism as far as Southwark evangelicals are concerned.

    The report also mentions the 100 evangelical clergy who recently meet up with the Bishop of Southwark to protest about the one sided nature of his recent appointments to senior positions within the diocese (seven liberal catholics) and the imbalance that this has created.
    However it is very important not to assume that all these evangelicals support the establishment of this Trust. I have been one of the strongest critics of the imbalance created by Bishop Christopher's appointments but I do not believe that the answer is to set out alternative financial structures. Fulcrum has always strongly supported the maintenance of diocesan contributions by churches and opposed separatist arrangements. Rather than withdrawing from diocesan structures, evangelicals must stay within them. From this position they can both fight for these structures to remain or return to being faithful to the gospel but also a right balance between the evangelical, liberal and catholic traditions which, at its best, greatly enriches the ministry and mission of the Church of England. Paying into a common fund is a vital part of this commitment and it is from this basis that we should fight for this money to be used as well as possible. To withdraw is to give up the vital influence we must maintain on this. And I say this as vicar of a church being ploughed into the ground by excessive quota payments (around £270,000 pa for one stipendiary clergyman!).
    There has also been some confusion expressed in the last few days about Fulcrum's attitude towards separatism. I was rightly quoted in the Church Times as saying to Bishop Christopher that through the nature of his recent appointments in Southwark he couldn't have done more to encourage separatism. But by this I wasn't in any way implying that separatism is a good thing. The precise sentence I gave to the Church Times was as follows '...through these appointments, Bishop Christopher couldn't have done more to encourage the destructive agenda of GAFCON, FCA and other separatist movements'.

    Beryl Polden, Wirral.

  18. "Six months or so later, I found her very glum and asked her why – she confided to me that her husband had found out about an affair she had been having. I asked how this ‘affair’ sat with her Biblical orthodoxy – she replied that having extra marital sex was culturally acceptable and she knew her husband engaged in similar activity."

    Peter, there's something odd about this. If it was "culturally acceptable" to her husband, why was she "very glum" when he found out?


    1. It's breaking the Eleventh Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Get Found Out...".

      There are lots of things we do - but pretend we don't do. Religion itself involves a good deal of 'double-speak'.

      Ask a focus group would they mind higher taxes for better public services and the majority of people tend to say 'yes'. Put it in your manifesto and you're doomed to electoral failure. People are fickle and can often hold one belief that is contrary to both their behaviour and other beliefs.

      George Eliot puts it rather well:

      "It is easy enough to spoil the lives of our neighbours without taking so much trouble; we can do it by lazy acquiescence and lazy omission, by trivial falsities for which we hardly know a reason, by small frauds neutralized by small extravagances, by maladroit flatteries, and clumsily improvised insinuations. We live from hand to mouth, most of us, with a small family of immediate desires; we do little else than snatch a morsel to satisfy the hungry brood, rarely thinking of seed-corn or the next year's crop..."

      and Emily Bronte says it even better:

      "We must be for ourselves in the long run... The mild and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering..."

  19. Beryl, I think Fulcrum's position is difficult to understand for some of us. However, the quotation (I understand it is a quotation) from Stephen Kuhrt above suggests to me that whilst he is aggrieved about the problem in his own backyard, he doesn't quite 'get it' yet about the theology and the ecclesiology this entails.

    Hence Fulcrum generally can have a Theological Secretary (Bp Graham Kings) saying he can work with an outright revisionist (Bp Nicholas Holtam). But this will not be sustainable in the long run, as the Church must teach and opt for one view or the other.

    Anyway, meanwhile nobody can accuse me of separatism (see my book advertised here), and I don't really think 'separatism' is on the Southwark agenda either.

  20. Many clergy don't believe in re-marriage after divorce, whilst others perform such ceremonies. Why can't the same apply to gay marriage according to one's conscience? Why must the Church "opt for one view or the other"?

  21. Fr David, fair question. The answer in the first instance is that Christ and the Apostle paul left us a clear instruction. Some clergy attempt to follow that - including allowing for remarriage after divorce in certain circumstances for those who are persuaded this is what they meant. However, others just ignore it, and this is plainly wrong.

    In the case of same-sex marriage, there are substantial arguments, repeated frequently, against this being scripturally acceptable or actually equivalent to heterosexual marriage.

    The tension in this case is there (even) greater than in the first. Eventually the elastic must snap, as it were.

  22. peter, as far as I can see, the only way to get rid of the 'hypocrisy' in the church that we say one thing and do another is redefine sin, so that there isn't any.

  23. Revd John: You have expressed what is simply your own interpretation of the matter of gay marriage, about which Christians sincerely differ. Why should everyone conform to one view only when there is clearly a difference in scriptural interpretation? (I note that devout RC Iain Duncan Smith is to vote in favour of gay civil marriage).

  24. Fr David, I beg to differ. It is the established view of the Church of England, supported by the decision of General Synod, the House of Bishops in two reports and the Lambeth Conference.

    There is a danger here of saying that everything is 'my own opinion' if there is room for disagreement.

  25. I agree John - but then we have to ask why is so much made by so many about a well chosen and small selection of 'certain issues' while great swaths of life are tactfully ignored?

    There would be a good deal more 'Yes, the Bible says such and such, but...' being said, even among conservative congregations if matters of business, ambition, class, culture, personal finance, foot washing etc. were pushed and discussed with the same keen, obsessive and disproportionate interest as say the subject of homosexuality!


  26. Nice post.I like the way you start and then conclude your thoughts. Thanks for this information .I really appreciate your work, keep it up...