The numbers were decidedly overwhelming. The synod vote received support from five of seven bishops, 69% of the clergy and 80% of the laity – indicating that it has a good chance of succeeding when it returns next year.
So far, the Church of England has resisted this sort of action and will not conduct homosexual marriages, or even allow clergy to be in a homosexual marriage. Of course, this has not stopped the recognition of men and women living in what the Bible calls sexual sin, to receive a blessing from English clergy on their homosexual unions. The Dean of St. Alban’s cathedral, Jeffrey John, has been living with his partner for 40 years, and claims to be celibate, even though he has married his partner. He was once shortlisted to be a diocesan bishop in the Church of England. Fortunately, that did not materialize.
The Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) has been kicking the can down the road over homosexual marriage, but it will come up for a vote in July when their Synod meets. A vote for will upset the few remaining conservatives, and a vote against will upset the disproportionately high number of homosexual clergy. This is all a repeat performance of the lamentations and appeals for unity that accompanied the voting over same-sex blessings in prior synods. Then, as now, the so-called unity is bogus. Also bogus were the assurances that same-sex blessings would not lead to same sex marriage. Does anyone truly believe that priests will not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages if the vote goes that way?
Hiltz has as much as admitted that the whole synod exercise will be a vacuous farce since, even if homosexual marriage motion is voted down — as it probably will be — dioceses will go ahead with it anyway.
Church of Wales Archbishop, Dr. Barry Morgan, said he was not ready, as a Church, to take the step of authorizing homosexual marriage, but his bishops made it clear that the debate is not over. They committed to working for a Church in which homosexual men and women are “fully affirmed as equal disciples” and to praying with and for them.
Then there is The Episcopal Church, which has swallowed the whole pansexual enchilada of sodomite marriage to the point that it has changed its canons to allow it all to be legal. Like the Scottish church, it has an exemption clause for those who refuse to participate in these unbiblical unions. But for how long?
So far it is only TEC that has taken the brunt of inhibition when, last January, TEC found itself sanctioned (the ABC did not like that word) when it approved homosexual marriage. However, TEC got a pass at Lusaka ACC-16, where it participated fully in that conference of Anglicans on African soil. There was not even the smell of censure, further angering orthodox Anglicans from the Global South.
The Scottish move then will only intensify the brokenness within the wider Anglican Communion of some 80 million Christians.
Archbishop Justin Welby
The Archbishop of Canterbury is struggling to keep the Communion together over the issue. The sad truth is he is losing in the Culture Wars over pansexuality. He is turning out to be a clone of his predecessor, Rowan Williams (without the beard). He is bending over backwards not to appear homophobic lest he fear a backlash against him, even though scripture offers no way out in its condemnation of such behavior.
When he was in Zimbabwe recently, Welby said there are differing views within the Anglican Communion on homosexual unions, but the majority one is that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and woman.
That was not a vigorous endorsement of heterosexual marriage or that God has only ever ordained “male and female” as normative behavior he created for the universe of humanity.
It is a lot easier to state that the primates opposed the criminalization of LGBTIQ people without ever saying that homosexual behavior is morally indefensible. Plead the whine of a handful of homosexuals many of whom are in the forefront of Gaystapo tactics to stifle all dissent of their behavior that has seen millions die over the last 30 plus years, including my own brother-in-law and a dear Baptist friend in the late 80s.
“Thou shalt not” has become “thou shout out”. Even though what happened in Orlando this past weekend was unconscionable, indefensible and morally reprehensible, it still does not address the wrongness of a behavior that not only upsets believing Christians, but Muslims as well, and has caused a murderous backlash in countries like Nigeria, which has seen the slaughter of hundreds of Anglican Christians at the hands of Boko Haran, part of whose murderous creed is the West’s pandering to homosexuality expressly forbidden by the Koran.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s fence sitting has left the Global South, especially its GAFCON believers angry, despairing and bewildered that they will ever see an archbishop on the throne of Canterbury with a backbone, declaratively stating that marriage between a man and a woman is the ONLY acceptable sexual activity approved of by our creator and that ALL other options are sinful and outside his ontological purview.
Nigerian Archbishop and GAFCON Chairman Nicholas Okoh
Enter the Primate of Nigeria.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria is the highest attended, most orthodox, unyielding and uncompromising evangelical province in the Anglican Communion. To a man and woman they have stood firmly on scripture as God’s final revelation on human sexual behavior, and they will not compromise under any circumstance. So it is natural that they would see Welby as weak and prevaricating over the issue, catering to a handful of strident Western pansexualists who believe they can change God’s mind for him. They have watched the spiritual, moral and ecclesiastical carnage that has resulted in shrinking and dying churches over the issue, and they marvel at the spiritual blindness of the West — the same West that brought them the gospel barely a century ago, and which they now see as horribly compromised.
On taking his seat as chairman, Archbishop Okoh almost immediately lit into Welby, saying that the false teaching of The Episcopal Church was now being normalized in the Church of England over its decision to appoint an American Episcopal Bishop as the Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. This resulted in the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese ending its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese. Lambeth Palace said nothing.
But this was just the beginning. The Nigerian Primate says GAFCON will now focus on actions of the Church of England, now that ACNA is established in the US. The Africans are coming and Welby will be powerless to stop them. The Anglican Mission in England will now kick into high gear.
It is worth recalling that it was only a few short years ago when the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America, arose from humble beginnings to over 120 congregations across 30 States, and in Canada, with over 435 chaplains and clergy, three missionary dioceses and the Deanery of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. That is no small achievement. Before you know it, the AMiE will be a fully-fledged alternative to the Church of England. There will be howls of foul play, but who can blame Okoh? He is merely responding to the growing need for an orthodox alternative to the CofE. It was he who said that the false teaching of TEC is now normalized in the Church of England!
The Province of Nigeria, the largest and staunchest evangelical branch of the Anglican Communion, has been at odds with TEC since it ordained an openly non-celibate homosexual to the episcopacy, in the person of Gene Robinson in March, 2003, and then, Primate Peter Akinola formally broke all relations with the North American Church. Other African provinces followed and did and said likewise.
No Schism but Realignment Continues
The secular press repeatedly and falsely claims that schism is either coming or is inevitable in the Anglican Communion, but they misread the cue cards.
What is going on is a grand game of ecclesiastical chess. Whenever the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada seek to manipulate Global South leaders with expensive flights and hotels to participate in Indaba talks on reconciliation, or push millions of dollars onto poorer African dioceses (often behind the backs of their orthodox primates) to buy influence and peddle pansexuality, the Global South fires back by planting churches in the backyards of liberal and “progressive” Anglican provinces and so moves the chess game in a different direction. The Western queen (you can take that anyway you like), repeatedly finds itself blockaded by orthodox GAFCON knights and bishops ready to swing into action against her. Sooner or later it will be checkmate for the Western king, simply because the church pawns of the West are dying out and are being taken off the board by the overwhelming fire power of Global South leaders who have waited patiently to bring an end to the game. It’s a zero sum game.
In every age, the devil is at work to destroy the Church, but we stand firm in the confidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, said Okoh.
It’s hard to know how much clearer he could be. “At our recent Primates’ Council meeting in Nairobi, we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time.”
Okoh said he is convinced that this is a movement called into being and sustained by the Lord of the Church himself. “The Apostle Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We therefore preach the gospel, make disciples and commit ourselves to prevailing prayer, knowing that the most dangerous attack on the Church today is not persecution from the outside, terrible though that can be, but a globalized secular ideology which has established itself inside the Church.”
Okoh said GAFCON must devote itself to the task of restoring the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion, and this is the way to true unity. “The divisions which have been so destructive in recent years have come about because some have chosen to abandon biblical doctrine and it has become increasingly clear since the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka last month that those traditionally entrusted with leadership in the Communion will do nothing to call them to repentance.
GAFCON remains a rescue mission for the Anglican Communion, he said.
There is speculation that TEC will not be invited to Lambeth 2020, and ditto for the Anglican Church of Canada and Scotland. That is not going to happen. Both TEC and the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) will be invited regardless of how they vote on homosexual marriage. Furthermore, that is not the central question. The bigger question is whether ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, is invited and if he is, whether he would bother going!
As things now stand, and the trajectory western provinces are going, it is highly unlike that the GAFCON bishops will bother turning up, and in doing so, give a thumbs down as they did the last Lambeth Conference. This will only reinforce to Welby that he has lost control of the Anglican Communion and it is de jure no more. It is understandable that GAFCON General Secretary Peter Jensen should describe what happened as a “complete failure”.
The Scottish Episcopal Church’s Primus, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, was told that they will not suffer meaningful consequences for introducing same-sex marriage rites. In conversation with the leader of that Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury said sanctions applied to the SEC, if it adopts gay marriage rites, are applied to the Episcopal Church, then its bishops should expect to be present at Lambeth 2020.
What does that tell you? Well it speaks volumes. Switching the game from issues about Human Sexuality to talk about Anglican polity and governance is little more than rearranging the seating plan in the dining room of the Hindenburg.
In time, the Global South will win. Only a totally blind man cannot see the numbers written on the subway walls and tenement halls. The West is withering and dying from age and bad morals with no clear gospel to proclaim to stop it. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s “Jesus Movement” cry is little more than a three-card monte game, betting the church will grow without a clear salvific message. Screaming about racism and white privilege will get old. GAFCON and the rest of the Global South have the numbers, and they are tirelessly and relentlessly faithful to scripture in proclaiming the gospel of God’s redeeming grace. The chess game is moving rapidly in their favor. The Western (white) king is in a corner surrounded by black bishops, rooks and knights. The game is almost over. Checkmate awaits.