frgavin on September 8th, 2011


The arrival of a foreign dignitaries to our shores is usually preceded by a fanfare and in some cases a carefully worded announcement full of diplomatic ‘flourishes’ to allay any misgivings the locals may have about hidden agendas and territorial posturing by the said visitor. It was thus with interest that I read the syrupy bulletin issued to inform us that Katherine Jefferts-Schori, leader of a notorious North American brand of Anglicanism was invited to address the Synod of Bishops of our church later this month. This particular brand is not only increasingly apostate, it is both irrelevant to Africa and impotent in the face of the challenges the African church faces. Eager to cement relationship with the  Anglican leadership in Southern Africa, and in the face of very severe objections, these false prophets are taking full advantage of the opportunity to distribute largesse and sow their teachings.

The situation is fairly reminiscent of an occasion which took place in 1930’s Germany when Karl Fezer, a leader of the German Christian Movement, was invited to address a meeting of leading pastors and theologians of the German protestant churches.  The German Christian Movement had as its stated aim the uniting of all Protestant Christians into an inclusive and affirming body. However the doctrine of this group was based on an errant theology of revelation which placed human experience above the revealed word of God.   The great theologian Karl Barth listened patiently, read the prepared memorandum, then stood up and to the shock of everyone present announced “we have different beliefs, different spirits, and a different God” and walked out. That event marked the formation of the “Confessing Church” in Germany – a small but effective group of Christian leaders who were prepared to stand up against a heresy within the Church. On the other hand the greater portion of the Christian Protestant Church leadership in Germany succumbed to the call for unity. As time went on, this greater group that placed unity above truth was gradually absorbed, like a python’s prey,  by the false gospel of the “Reichs Church”,  rendered voiceless and impotent against the tide of Nazi totalitarianism that swept all before it. This subversion of effective Christian witness removed a major obstacle to Hitler’s ambitions and the resulting conflagration we call World War 2.

Like the German “Reichs Church”, the Episcopal Church of North America has placed the authority of human experience, human desire and human passion above the clear and unambiguous teaching of holy scripture in its blessing of same-sex relationships. Its leadership has embarked on a campaign to mollify and pacify disgruntled and offended Africans who have demanded the Episcopal Church’s exclusion from the forums of leadership of the Anglican Communion (and in most cases broken communion with them). While other African Primates have taken a stand against their heresy, Southern Africa has not.

There can be no compromise with clear manifestations of heresy. The scripture commands us not to invite false teachers into our home. When they refuse to repent, after repeated calls and pleading from all corners of the International Anglican Community, broken fellowship is the only response. If this is not done they will keep spreading their poisonous teachings until the whole body of the church is infected.  It is said that the python hypnotises her hapless prey before crushing it and then swallowing it whole. Like a mouse before a smiling python – will we now be swallowed and absorbed to be spat out later, a pathetic little pile of half digested bones?

Or will somebody stand up?

Fr Dave Doveton:   Vice Provost, Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin, Diocese of Port Elizabeth, Anglican Church of Southern Africa

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