A meeting of church leaders from across Ireland has been challenged to remain biblically faithful but to ”˜dare to do new things’ in the face of a ”˜new spiritual darkness’ in the west.
The General Secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference, Dr Peter Jensen, who addressed the event at Belfast’s Willowfield Church, told the story of GAFCON’s beginnings in the landmark conference of Bishops, clergy and lay leaders in Jerusalem in 2008, through to the Nairobi meeting in 2013 and the movement’s unifying work today across the Anglican world.
Addressing the current context in Ireland and Scotland, Dr Jensen drew a sharp comparison.
“In the last few days, two Anglican Provinces have spoken words of choice. In Scotland, the General Synod of the Episcopal Church has chosen to omit the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman from its canons, thus signalling an acceptance of so-called gay marriage. It is a choice to rewrite the Bible and so the Christian faith. In Ireland, the House of Bishops, following the referendum, has endorsed once more the teaching of the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman for life. The contrast is stark.” he said.
“Of course there are those who argue that the two positions can be held in tension in a denomination with mutual respect, recognising that sincere people will differ over the interpretation of the Bible. But let me offer a very serious warning: the cost of taking such a position is unacceptably high. It is to say that the Biblical testimony is so unclear that it can be read in several ways, whereas in fact the Biblical position is crystal clear. When the testimony of the bible is rendered so murky, the authority of the Bible is fatally compromised. The middle position is a vote for an unacceptable compromise.”
The general-secretary said “The business of GAFCON is to deliver fellowship to orthodox believers who have to bear testimony in the midst of such confusion; to resource them to teach the truth and to inspire them to preach the gospel.”
“GAFCON” Dr Jensen said “is a force which delivers fellowship and encourages courage.”
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