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Church gay marriage lobby gets a cuddle from Welby

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WOKE Anglican bishops from the West won two significant victories at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2022 Lambeth Conference.

The first was on August 2 when Justin Welby gushingly backed the Anglican Churches, particularly in the United States and Canada, which have ditched the traditional Christian teaching on marriage.

He told 650 bishops of the Anglican Communion, which has 41 self-governing Member Churches (Provinces) across 165 countries, gathered in the University of Kent at Canterbury from July 26 to August 8:

‘For the large majority of the Anglican Communion the traditional understanding of marriage is something that is understood, accepted and without question, not only by Bishops but their entire Church, and the societies in which they live.

‘For them, to question this teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries would make the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For many churches to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.

‘For a minority, we can say almost the same. They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about Scripture. They do not reject Christ.

‘But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study and reflection on understandings of human nature. For them, to question this different teaching is unthinkable, and in many countries is making the church a victim of derision, contempt and even attack. For these churches not to change traditional teaching challenges their very existence.’

It was this affirmation by the host of the conference that changing the traditional teaching is faithful to Christ and the Bible that sent the Western Anglican revisionists on their way rejoicing.

In a video message just after Archbishop Welby’s affirmation for the ‘minority’, Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church who preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor in 2018, had this reassuring message for ‘our LGBTQ family’:

‘At the end of this day when we did discuss same-sex marriage and marriage in general, in the context of talking about human dignity and the ministry of reconciliation in Christ, I left that conversation hopeful.’

The disagreements were still there, he said, but ‘this group of bishops today seemed to be able to recognise and affirm our love and respect for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ’.

It is certainly the case that Archbishop Welby’s predecessor, Rowan Williams, did not spout about the spiritual integrity of Anglican revisionists on marriage and sexual morality at the previous Lambeth Conference in 2008.

Ten years after the 1998 Lambeth Conference passed Resolution 1.10, which affirmed the traditional view of marriage and rejected homosexual practice as ‘incompatible with Scripture’, Archbishop Williams, even though he was a theological liberal himself, disappointed Western revisionists by refusing to allow them to challenge the resolution.

In the final week of Welby’s Lambeth, the battle of the petitions was another win for the revisionists.

They launched one affirming the ‘holiness’ of LGBT+ love ‘in committed relationships’. By the end of the conference it had signatures from around 170 bishops, mainly from the US and Canada.

The orthodox Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA), which held its own press conferences and said it represented 270 bishops at the conference, launched its own petition re-affirming the Lambeth 1998 resolution. Unlike the rival revisionist petition, the names of the signatories were not published. The GSFA steering group headed by the Archbishop of South Sudan, Justin Badi Arama, reported on August 7 that 125 bishops from 21 Provinces had signed it.

Although the orthodox Global South bishops have many more worshippers in their churches than the revisionists in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, they lost the battle of the petitions, both numerically and in terms of nailing their colours to their mast.

Around 300 archbishops and bishops from the Anglican Churches in Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda boycotted Lambeth 2022 because Archbishop Welby insisted on inviting the revisionists. These orthodox bishops are being invited to sign the GSFA petition.

Even if the orthodox petition eventually gets more signatures than its rival, that would not detract from the revisionist victory. Welby’s affirmation acknowledged that the revisionists were in a minority in the Anglican Communion, but gave them what they wanted and what they did not get from Rowan Williams – a cuddle from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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