[John] Stott takes time in his speech to detail the specific circumstances in which a Christian might be justified leaving his or her denomination. To him, those circumstances include the following situations (as The Very Rev. Justyn Terry once summarized Stott’s points):
When an issue of first order is at stake, such as deserves the condemnation of “anitchrist” (1 John 2:22) or “anathema” (Gal 1:8-9)
When the offending issue is not just held by an idiosyncratic minority of individuals but has become the official position of the majority
When the majority have silenced the faithful remnant, forbidding them to witness or protest any longer
When we have conscientiously explored every possible alternative
When, after a painful period of prayer and discussion, our conscience can bear the weight no longer
These, I take it, are the kinds of criteria that GAFCON leaders and others are weighing as they gather together. And, in particular, Stott’s fourth point seems to be what the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to explore. While I have reasoned hope that these criteria have not been met and the Communion still has a way forward, they are (it must be said) not simple questions.