While I don't follow politics or the news in general, I am interested in the current state of religious matters. Last week I decided to check up and see how things were going with the Anglican Communion.
The answer is: not well.
During April, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) convened in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss the conflicts that now exist between them, and the leadership of the Church of England. GAFCON subsequently issued the following statement:
Despite 25 years of persistent warnings by most Anglican Primates, repeated departures from the authority of God’s Word have torn the fabric of the Communion. These warnings were blatantly and deliberately disregarded and now without repentance this tear cannot be mended.
The latest of these departures is the majority vote by the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2023 to welcome proposals by the bishops to enable same-sex couples to receive God’s blessing. It grieves the Holy Spirit and us that the leadership of the Church of England is determined to bless sin.
Since the Lord does not bless same-sex unions, it is pastorally deceptive and blasphemous to craft prayers that invoke blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
There is no way to sugar-coat these disagreements. Either Scripture and sacred tradition are binding, or they are not.
Since those who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), we call upon those provinces, dioceses and leaders who have departed from biblical orthodoxy to repent of their failure to uphold the Bible’s teaching. This includes matters such as human sexuality and marriage, the uniqueness and divinity of Christ, his bodily resurrection, his promised return, the summons to faith and repentance and the final judgment.
We long for this repentance but until they repent, our communion with them remains broken.
And there it is - the Archbishop of Canterbury has been excommunicated by 315 bishops and approximately 85 percent of the global Anglican Communion.
Even though I'm on a "news diet," I figured something of this magnitude would be big enough that I'd have heard of it before now, but of course "news" these days is what the ruling class wants us to know (which may or may not be true). It's probably deeply disturbing for them to know that the Western hedonist agenda is so deeply unpopular.
The Anglican Church is of course an odd creation, a relic of Henry VIII's obsession with producing a male heir. It's missionary activities generally followed the expansion of the British Empire, and there is a certain deep irony in the way that the C of E has now become so heretical that the fruit of its labors now reject its leadership.
There's also a certain absurdity to the fact that the specific flashpoint for this crisis is the desire of the Church of England to legitimize sodomy of all things. This is right out of a Monty Python skit. I'm imagining John Cleese standing in full episcopal regalia announcing that his faith cannot be shaking, and like Martin Luther stating "Here I stand. I can do no other." And then camera frame broadens and you see he's in a gay bar and "It's Raining Men" starts playing.
However one feels about homosexuality (or for that matter, Christianity), GAFCON's position is irrefutable:
The Bible is God’s Word written, breathed out by God as it was written by his faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:16). It carries God’s own authority, is its own interpreter, and it does not need to be supplemented, nor can it ever be overturned by human wisdom.
Yes. Over the past five centuries, Protestantism has increasing turned into "cafeteria Christianity," where one can take only the things one wants. That's now how it works.
Of course, there have been plenty attempts to insist that the Bible was "of its time" and that in our more enlightened age, we can see how archaic and out-of-date it is.
Certainly that's what the Catholic bishops in Germany claim, and it tells us a lot more about them than they think. For a senior clergyman to claim that homosexual impulses are simply too powerful to contain is (to me at least) grounds for their immediate removal from office.
This assertion is both insulting since it states clearly that people who feel same-sex attraction are incapable of self-control and blasphemous because it assumes that God will not assist those prayerfully seeking His aid in remaining morally pure.
What is more, if the sexual urge is implacable, why are only homosexuals granted a dispensation? What about married individuals who feel tempted to commit adultery? Should we offer blessings for committed lovers and mistresses? Where does this nonsense end?
Well, we now have an idea - schism and dismay. I believe GAFCON are doing what it is right. As I've said many times, there comes a point where differences in doctrine cannot be swept under the rug.
Since I brought up the German bishops (and let us not forget that they have support from American bishops as well, as well as the Jesuits), I can't help but notice that both of these drives to heresy coming from the leadership, not the laity. It is a top-down revolution, and such things rarely succeed.
Indeed, this ill-considered move by Canterbury may be the catalyst that finally ends the schism with Rome. After all, Anglican practice and theology is so similar that many senior clergy have already turned to the Catholic Church. The late Pope Benedict XVI created an Anglican Rite and ordinariate specifically to serve these people.
It would be very appropriate if this schism ultimately results in greater overall unity.