One of the marks of bold leadership is clarity. The faith we proclaim is the truth as it is revealed in Holy Scripture, not a human invention, and it presents us with a choice between two ways. One leads to life, the other to death. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls those who would follow him to enter by the narrow gate, not the wide gate that leads to destruction, (Matthew 7:13,14) and I believe it is significant that his warning about false prophets follows in the next verse. This is what false teaching in the Anglican Communion today is like. It is the wide gate that accommodates secular permissiveness and breaches biblical boundaries in doctrine and morals.
After the praise that greeted the news that Oxford University is to honour the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States with an honorary Doctorate in Divinity, it was helpful to be reminded of the sober facts in the Statement issued by the Global South Primates Steering Committee last week. It was recognized that ”˜the fabric of the Communion was torn at its deepest level as a result of the actions taken by The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada since 2003’ and the Communion’s London based institutions were described as ”˜dysfunctional’.
The breadth of the wide gate can be dangerously appealing as an easy choice, avoiding the need for theological discernment and church discipline. This is why I have already written a response (http://gafcon.org/news/a-response-to-the-statement-by-the-archbishops-of-canterbury-and-york) earlier this month to the Statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York about pastoral care for people who engage in same sex relationships.
Sadly, the lack of clarity in that statement about the biblical understanding of such relationships has been repeated in the pastoral guidance issued subsequently by the Church of England’s House of Bishops as same sex ”˜marriage’ becomes legal in England and Wales next month. While the Church’s official teaching on marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman is affirmed, it is effectively contradicted by the permission given for prayers to be said for those entering same sex ’marriages’.