While this piece is longer than what we typically publish on Covenant, I believe that it is very important for the details of this process to be told clearly and with this level of detail. Andrew Goddard is as well-placed as anyone in the Church of England to describe this history and we are very grateful that he is one of our regular Contributors. Anyone who has been following questions of sexuality and marriage at the Communion level knows just how challenging and divisive they have been. It is, then, of particular ecclesiological importance that the Church of England, whose Metropolitan and Primate is so central to the life of the Communion (first among equals, calling the Lambeth Conferences, chairing the Primates’ Meetings, and President of the Anglican Consultative Council), may introduce serious changes to its teaching and practice on marriage and sexuality. In the coming months, Covenant will features essays that engage with these questions, as well as larger matters of synodality and ecclesiology. ~ Matthew S. C. Olver, Executive Director and Publisher, The Living Church Foundation By Andrew Goddard The Church of England is waiting for the bishops to decide (likely on October 9) the next steps in their discernment concerning Living in Love and Faith (LLF). These will be published shortly after the House of Bishops meets and brought in some form to General Synod (Nov. 13-15). It is, however, becoming increasingly clear that, despite the protestations that there is to be no change in the church’s doctrine of marriage and so no need for those committed to it to be concerned, the whole process is raising deep, wide-ranging, and disturbing questions about the current state and future shape of the Church of England. What Has Happened? It now appears from recent statements that both archbishops no longer believe the received teaching of the church, summed up in Canon B30. This claims the authority of Jesus and condenses the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, stating that marriage is between one man and one woman and is given, among other reasons, “for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections.” They now reject what they and the other bishops reaffirmed as recently as 2019: “the Church of England teaches that ‘sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively’” (“Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships,” para 9; quoting from “Marriage: A Teaching Document” ). Reviewing developments in the last year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the archbishops, with the public or private support of many bishops, have been determined to use the LLF discernment process to shift the church away from this teaching that they promised to uphold in their ordination and consecration vows. The Archbishop of York has been most open about his position and few have been surprised that he believes “physical and sexual intimacy belongs in committed, stable, faithful relationships.” The Archbishop of Canterbury has been less public, but no longer denies or hides that he has shifted away from his previous clear and strong commitment to the church’s teaching. Advertisement As Andrew Atherstone has shown in his biography, Justin Welby in the past regularly expressed his support for traditional teaching concerning sex being for marriage. In 1999 he wrote in his parish church news that “Throughout the bible it is clear that the right place for sex is only within a committed, heterosexual marriage” (p. 94). Four years later (around the time of the Jeffrey John crisis in Reading) he was again clear that, though pastorally difficult, “sexual practice is for marriage, and marriage is between men and women, and that’s the biblical position” (p. 125). Ten years later — a decade ago — as he became Archbishop of Canterbury he spoke of the commitment seen in non-marital relationships but told Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times that “My understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it’s gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong” (p. 218). A year later, in the context of debates about same-sex marriage, he had an exchange on LBC with Ann Widdecombe and stressed that this was also the teaching of the Church of England: [Quote]I just said the Church is quite clear that sex outside marriage is wrong and marriage is being understood as a man and a woman. That seems a fairly clear statement. The House of Bishops has just issued a pretty clear statement which has got me a lot of stick about our behavior on issues of sexuality … My position is the historic position of the church, which is in our Canons, which says that sexual relations … should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman. … I’ve just quoted to you clearly what the Canons of the Church of England say, what the law of the Church of England says, and I think that was reasonably clear.[/end] He similarly told nearly a thousand people in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral around this time that Scriptures and the church teach that “sexual activity should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman, and to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually.” In contrast, in June this year in answer to a question, he said, “sexual activity should be within permanent, stable, and faithful relationships of marriage, as that is understood in each society.” We previously had, in Rowan Williams, an Archbishop of Canterbury who had publicly questioned the church’s teaching before appointment but during his tenure upheld it in his role as archbishop, offered a clear theological rationale for his approach, and challenged those who led their churches to depart from the teaching within the life of the wider Communion. We now appear to have an Archbishop of Canterbury who, having previously upheld the church’s teaching, has privately changed his mind, is now publicly questioning it as archbishop, and rather than offering a theological rationale for this change is using his position to undermine it within the Church of England and wider Communion. It is important to recognize there is no agreed alternative sexual ethics. Some of those wishing to change church teaching would wish to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions and to approve of sex outside marriage. Others would keep the restriction of sex to marriage but redefine it. Yet others are more cautious about redefining marriage in this way but wish to affirm non-marital sexual unions. Everyone, including those committed to church teaching, faces the challenge that marriage has been redefined in law and wider social understanding and is now viewed as a union between two persons irrespective of their sex. In this context, the bishops’ discernment focused attention on the practical question of how to implement any changes. It soon became clear that it would be impossible to argue that a change in the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would only need a simple majority (rather than two-thirds) in each house of the synod. There was also certainly not 66 percent and perhaps not even 50 percent support for such a change in all three houses, even if there was among the bishops. The obvious proper synodical route to bring about this change was therefore blocked. Faced with this reality, the bishops’ initial focus turned to what new liturgical developments to introduce. This resulted in the proposed draft Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) brought to, and welcomed by, the February General Synod. These, it was insisted and as required by canon, were not even indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine. A significant minority of the synod was, however, wholly unconvinced by this claim and the synod as a whole passed an amendment stating that “the final version of the Prayers of Love and Faith should not be contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England.” Only after this did the bishops turn to consider — in what they called Pastoral Guidance — how to state that doctrine for today and what developments, if any, they would also introduce to the church’s discipline. This was particularly focused on clergy disciplines. Clergy are currently expected to conform their life to the church’s teaching and so not permitted to enter same-sex marriages. In terms of sexual conduct, they should live faithfully within marriage or be sexually abstinent (as also summed up in Lambeth I.10). The new Pastoral Guidance has not been published but has been drafted and circulated confidentially to bishops and some others for discussion and revision. Those wishing to implement changes to what is required of ordained ministers not only face the problem of the definition of marriage in the church’s liturgy and Canon B30. There is also the fact that the church successfully defended its current stance forbidding clergy same-sex marriage on the basis of its doctrine of marriage, and had this upheld in the judgment of a secular court in the Pemberton case. The church’s Legal Office offered this solution: To reverse all its past legal advice and to propose separating civil marriage (at least for couples of the same-sex) from holy matrimony, so as to argue that the church’s doctrine related solely to the latter institution and that therefore a same-sex couple entering a civil marriage were not in fact in any way departing from the church’s doctrine as, in effect, it had no doctrine that related to civil marriage (just as it has no doctrine of civil partnerships). This has been widely critiqued both legally and theologically. Partly in response to this, the bishops have in the last few months asked the Faith and Order Advisory Commission (FAOC) to subject this novel argument to theological scrutiny. It appears unlikely that many (even if supportive of developing church teaching and practice) believe this is a theologically credible and coherent way of arguing for change. Even if this argument is maintained and found convincing, it still remains unclear what the bishops are saying about the nature and legitimacy of a decision to enter a same-sex civil marriage (rather than, say, a civil partnership, which is open to clergy). What cannot be denied, however, is that this argument separating civil marriage from holy matrimony is an essential element in both (a) the case for the legality of the prayers as not indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine, even when used for couples in same-sex marriages and (b) any argument in support of opening same-sex civil marriage to the clergy without changing law or doctrine. After February’s synod, many in episcopal leadership were determined to complete the prayers in time for the July synod, but this proved unrealistic for two main reasons. First, there was increasing confusion about how to introduce the prayers legally. Second, it become more and more clear that the prayers could not be separated from the Pastoral Guidance and that developments in both these areas also raised significant ecclesiological questions (which the bishops described as “Pastoral Reassurance”) for those who remain committed to the historic teaching and practice of the church. This latter point had already been conceded by the Archbishop of York when, perhaps in order to encourage wavering voters in synod (the motion eventually scraped through by just 11 votes among the laity), he made a public commitment during the February debate that “I won’t be able to support commending these prayers until we have the pastoral guidance and pastoral provision.” At the July synod, the Bishop of London therefore made clear that it was now recognized there was a need “to focus on bringing the work of the three workstreams [Prayers, Guidance, Reassurance] together” (Q96, p. 39). What Is Really Going On? If we lift our eyes from these details and the current focus on the prayers and instead set all these developments of the last nine months in a wider chronological and ecclesial context, then the significance of what is underway becomes clearer. The bishops are, in fact, claiming to maintain as unchanged two of the central elements of their earlier proposal back in 2017 that was defeated by the clergy in synod (who wished them to go further) and led to LLF. They summed up their position then (GS 2055, para 22, italics added) as Interpreting the existing law and guidance to permit maximum freedom within it, without changes to the law, or the doctrine of the Church. This meant (para 26): proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships. This is exactly what the bishops say remains the situation. What is different now is that on this basis in 2017 they drew back from offering liturgical material because of these constraints. In contrast, they now are proposing PLF, but are increasingly realizing (given the legal and political problems that have arisen since February concerning how to introduce either Authorized or Commended liturgies) why they did not take such a step in 2017. They may also be about to revise existing guidance — in relation to clergy in same-sex marriages and sexual relationships outside marriage — rather than simply interpret it to permit maximum freedom within it. Nevertheless, they claim that they can now (unlike six years ago) do all this while still “proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships.” They are not proposing such a change because they know that they are highly unlikely to secure the necessary majorities, given the composition of the synod (which is more conservative now than it was in 2017). They are therefore as bishops changing liturgy and perhaps guidance while claiming to be working within the existing law and doctrine. In so doing, and particularly in the way they are proceeding, the bishops (with some notable exceptions such as those arguing for the use of Canon B2) are raising a number of serious questions. These relate to the implications of their actions for Anglican identity, the use of episcopal power, and the future well-being and unity of the Church of England. Six in particular stand out. First, there has been no serious theological defense offered for the liturgy or to show that the liturgy is not indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the church. It is clear that a significant proportion of the church (including, I suspect, many — if they are being honest — who want to change the doctrine) and most of the Anglican Communion believes that the prayers are indicative of such departure. Given the quotations I’ve cited, Justin Welby himself would very likely have reached this conclusion in the past. As both archbishops and other bishops have openly contradicted the doctrine, there are good grounds for concern that their proposed liturgy is no longer conformed to it and that they are not the best judges of its conformity. All this strikes a major blow — in relation to the most contentious doctrinal issue of our day — to the fundamental Anglican principle of lex orandi, lex credendi that ties together our doctrine and our liturgy. Second, the bishops are doing all they can to prevent proper scrutiny of the liturgy and the established normal means of testing whether any proposed new liturgy is conformed to doctrine. This requires full synodical processes under Canon B2 and ultimately approval by two-thirds of all three houses of synod (unlikely for current proposals). They began by wishing to commend the prayers on their own authority rather than authorize them, but then recognized the problems this could create and the novelty of introducing such contentious material by this means. Next, for a time they seriously considered authorization by non-synodical means under Canon B4. They even signaled to the July synod a preference for authorization simply by the two archbishops, leading someone to comment to me, “Who would have predicted that LLF would lead to the triumph of a form of anglo-Papalism?” (For more details on these options, see my summary and longer discussion). Now it appears they are looking at experimental authorization — again by the archbishops —under Canon B5A. This has the merit of ultimately requiring wider authorization by synod under Canon B2, but is again unprecedented for new and controversial liturgy and likely to be implemented in a way that radically breaks with all past practice in the limited use of this canon (see more details here). No answer has ever been offered to why they have not simply used Canon B2 — the most legally and theologically secure route. This leads many to conclude the only reason is they are fairly sure that it will not give them the outcome they want. Third, the bishops first sidelined the Faith and Order Advisory Commission (FAOC) through the early stages of discernment and then, bowing to pressure for theological work, expected FAOC to deliver responses to key questions on an unworkable timetable that enables the process to continue at speed. It is sometimes claimed that LLF has already done the theological work. It has done so only in terms of setting out the received teaching and the challenges to it. It neither presented different internally coherent theological options nor offered an evaluative, let alone a definitive, judgment on the competing and contradictory theologies it identified as present in the church’s debate. In addition, there are key elements in the bishops’ proposals that were not considered at all in all the LLF work. There is now a real likelihood that developments will take place driven by secret episcopal votes and with no theological rationale offered for the outcomes or made subject to synodical debate and approval. This represents the marginalization and diminution of serious theological reasoning by the bishops, in stark contrast to how the Church of England has addressed contentious questions in the past. Fourth, the bishops have also failed to engage with FAOC’s past theological work on communion and disagreement. This, and the way it was taken up in LLF, including in the widely used course, makes clear that we need as a church to think theologically, and not only about our disagreements on marriage and sexuality. We also need to think seriously about the theological significance of these disagreements, and their ecclesial implications. The bishops appear to assume — without providing any justification and despite experience in other churches — that the matters are to be considered of minimal theological significance, or adiaphora. They have refused to engage with the theological arguments and deep concerns of those who see the matters as of much greater significance. They, as explored in LLF, raise questions concerning the authority of Scripture, the nature of God’s ordering of creation, including his human creatures, the effects of the fall and sin, the pattern of transformation God works in redemption, and the content of the call to holiness. These in turn have implications for the degree of communion that can be maintained if the church departs from current teaching. There appears to be no episcopal acknowledgment that, while the proposals have the support of those who have rejected current teaching, there is practically nobody who is committed to that teaching and welcomes these developments. In fact, the majority of those supporting current teaching believe it cannot be treated as adiaphora and that the bishops’ actions (particularly if pressed further in relation to clergy in same-sex marriage) represent a significant departure from it. Despite this, it looks like those wishing to continue to uphold that teaching in their ministries are going to be offered minimal “reassurance,” which provides less secure protection than that currently offered to opponents of women priests and bishops, despite being a much larger proportion of the church and this question being widely acknowledged as of much greater significance. Fifth, the bishops are failing to involve synod as they should in relation to the prayers by using the processes of canon B2. It is also rumored that the synod will not be able to scrutinize and vote on the proposed guidance. The argument used here is that previous guidance (Issues in Human Sexuality and subsequent pastoral statements on civil partnership and civil same-sex marriage) was all issued on the authority of the House of Bishops alone and not brought to synod for debate and approval. What this fails to recognize, however, is that all these episcopal statements represented the articulation and application of received catholic doctrine that was supported by the General Synod in 1987 and reaffirmed by the wider Anglican Communion in 1998 (supported by the General Synod in 2007). Were the bishops to produce guidance that went against those synodical votes and undermined or changed doctrine, then they should ensure they have synodical approval for such changes. To fail to do so is to undermine the fundamental Anglican principle of government by bishops in synod and the Church of England’s legal position that General Synod is the only authority within the Church of England competent to alter the legally approved doctrines: no doctrinal development may occur unless the three Houses of General Synod consent to it. Indeed, it has been understood judicially that General Synod possesses in law an unlimited power to change the church’s fundamental doctrines, provided the required procedures are followed. The procedures are rigorous and, by requiring the participation of the whole church as represented in General Synod, they give juridical expression to the theological principle that doctrines ought to be derived from a consensus fidelium. (Legal Framework of the Church of England, p. 258) Sixth, the bishops, including the archbishops, have given little or no attention to the mind of the wider Communion and the implications of their actions for its unity and the place of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury within it. The 2007 Synod motion was clear that synod did not want the Church of England to do “anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978: 10; 1988: 64; 1998: 1.10).” There can be no doubt that the prayers are widely perceived as much more than qualifying the church’s commitment. Were the disciplines expected of clergy to be changed by the bishops, it would be impossible to argue we remained committed to this synod motion. Although one of the central arguments put forward for these changes is the need to preserve unity, this is ultimately set within a “little England” attitude, with a seemingly total disregard for the unity of the Communion. Instead, the bishops are leading the Church of England to embrace a doctrine of radical provincial autonomy that has proved so disastrous when followed by other provinces. Conclusion: On Paying Attention to Power The final of the six Pastoral Principles developed in the course of LLF was “pay attention to power.” The card produced for this says that “inequalities of power have led to abuses in the past and will continue to do so unless all who exercise pastoral care reflect continuously on the power that they hold. Power must always be acknowledged.” The way in which the bishops have undertaken their discernment and are proceeding is arguably at least as important as the substance of what they discern. In 2017 the bishops recognized they were constrained in what they could do if they were genuinely not going to attempt to change the law or doctrine of the church. The current college, led by the archbishops, while not proposing legal changes and claiming not to change doctrine, are showing little regard for such constraints or for longstanding principles of good Anglican governance and Anglican ecclesial identity. We have archbishops openly rejecting the teaching they vowed to uphold. The bishops are showing a lack of respect for a clear, recognizable link between liturgy and doctrine, refusing to follow the proper synodical processes for introducing new (particularly controversial) liturgy in the life of the church, sidelining public theological reasoning and the work of FAOC, and possibly seeking to introduce new guidance contrary to existing doctrine without the proper synodical process that respects the principle of bishops not acting on their own but always as bishops in synod. Alongside this they are also effectively tearing the Church of England away from the Anglican Communion and wider church catholic. These are not minor technical matters. These actions threaten to dissolve part of the glue that holds the church together and enables bishops to act as a focus of unity. The bishops appear to be abandoning precious gifts that have helped preserve, structure, and cultivate our often fragile common life together across our differences. They are disregarding and undermining well-established, tried and tested, theologically and pastorally (not simply legally) founded principles and practices that enable “good disagreement.” It is, however, only by living within their constraints that bishops will nurture trust and embody integrity, especially as we navigate contentious proposed changes in our teaching and practice. It is a serious matter for the church to err on marriage and sexuality. That, however, is a problem in one specific, albeit vitally important, area. These developments, and how episcopal and archepiscopal power is being used — on the sole basis, it seems, that these means are necessary to reach the desired end goal — are much more serious. They go beyond a single, possibly reversible, error of judgment, to weaken and potentially destroy core features of Anglican identity and essential characteristics of any healthy ecclesial body. 7 Responses Pierre Whalon October 4, 2023 While I am not competent to comment on the affairs of the Church of England House of Bishops, Dr Goddard’s essay encompasses both ecclesial politics, Communion issues, and doctrine. He does not refer to the recent “Kigali Statement” condemning Archbishop Welby, but he might as well have. Let us remind ourselves that dogma is unchanging, though correct interpretation must be made: the emergence of the non biblical word homoousios (“of one Being”) is one example. Doctrine does change, however, concerning moral issues. In regards to marriage, here is the doctrine that informed all the churches of the West from the 13th to the 20th centuries: “Marriage is an indissoluble bond between a man and wife arising from the mutual exchange of authority over one another’s bodies for the procreation and proper nurture of children. “The contract of marriage is the mutual exchange by a man and wife of their bodies for perpetual use in the procreation and proper nurture of children.” [John Duns Scotus (ca. 1266-1308), quoted in John Witte, From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion and Law in the Western Tradition (Westminster: John Knox Press, 2005), p. 25.] Is that the definition we still wish to support? Today, following Vatican II, marriage is once more referred to as a “covenant” as it was originally, instead of contract. In fact the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was the first Anglican BCP to use that term for marriage. That is a doctrinal change. So was Pope Pius XI’s encyclical, Casti connubii. which for the first time recognized that married love is also about unity and mutuality, as well as for mere procreation. There are many other historical examples of doctrinal changes concerning earthly matters. Usury, charging interest on loans, was condemned. Slavery was accepted, as was capital punishment. Such changes are representative of “doctrinal development,” as John Henry Newman argued while he was still (just) an Anglican. As I say, I am not judging whether the English bishops are developing doctrine correctly. I have had lots to say about how my own Episcopal Church handles it well—or not. On the other hand, the Kigali Statement has this bit of development: “The Bible is God’s Word written, breathed out by God as it was written by his faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:16). It carries God’s own authority, is its own interpreter, and it does not need to be supplemented, nor can it ever be overturned by human wisdom.” That is more than the Scriptures claim to be, and the long history of doctrinal development does not sustain such statements. “The Scriptures are the Word of God and contain all things necessary to salvation” (Article VI, 39 Articles) is still sufficient, though I suppose it could change… But I have sworn three times in public orally and in writing that this is what I believe. That hasn’t “developed.” Reply Andrew Goddard October 4, 2023 Thanks Bishop Whalon for this response. I think there could be a fascinating and maybe even fruitful discussion around whether and how the doctrine of marriage has developed and might develop further and how we undertand development of doctrine (especially moral doctrine) and how that relates to requirements not to depart from doctrine or indicate a change of doctrine in relation to our liturgy. However, one of the frustrations currently in the CofE that I wanted to highlight is that the bishops are insisting that their proposals are not changing doctrine at all and that the liturgical changes are not even indicative of a change in doctrine. They could – as others have done – have presented a theological argument for changes and sought to convince people that they are a legitimate development of doctrine (which I think is your view) but one which does not amount to a departure from doctrine (or that our canons with that doctrine or that doctrinal liturgical test need reviewing) but they have not even tried to do that. It is that lack of honesty and theological persuasion that are among my real concerns as I tried to set out in the piece. Reply Prayers of Love and Faith, (Arch-)Episcopal Power, and Anglican Identity – Covenant | Fulcrum Anglican October 5, 2023 […] The Church of England is waiting for the bishops to decide (likely on October 9) the next steps in t… […] Reply Prayers of Love and Faith process reveals need to ‘pay attention to power’, says Academic - The Church of England Evangelical Council October 5, 2023 […] to ‘dissolve the glue that holds the church together’, argues Andrew Goddard, in his most recent article, published by Living […] Reply Andrew Goddard–Prayers Of Love And Faith, (Arch-)episcopal Power, And Anglican Identity | TitusOneNine October 5, 2023 […] Read it all. print […] Reply PHILIP ALMOND October 6, 2023 I admire and support the Church of England Evangelical Council and Church Society in their faithful defence of the Anglican doctrines but I have a view on what their strategy should be which is different from that set out by John Dunnett in Evangelicals Now, October 2023 (Will there be a place for me in the Church of England?) I assume it is common ground that the paramount need of all people everywhere is to hear, believe and obey two vital messages. The terrible warnings, some from Christ’s own lips, to flee from the wrath to come; and the wonderful and sincere invitations and promises to all, some from Christ’s own lips, to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection, and to obey him for the rest of their lives. And the paramount responsibility for those who are in Christ Jesus is to pray that God in his sovereign love, mercy and grace will send his breath from heaven and breathe on those not in Christ Jesus, that they may live, and to pray that he will move the hearts of all who name the name of Christ to believe, teach and preach both of these two vital messages. Those in the Church who believe the supreme importance of these two vital messages are, no doubt, encouraged by the Church of England Evangelical Council and Church Society, teaching and preaching them and praying that God will move the whole Church to join in doing the same. They are convinced that these messages are not only revealed in the Bible but also supported by the 39 Articles, Homilies and Book of Common Prayer which all Anglican Ministers have promised to follow by making the Declaration of Assent and their ordination vows. The disagreement about same-sex behaviour and marriage has consumed and is consuming a lot of time, energy and debate in the Church of England, because the truth of the Bible and a change to the doctrine of the Church is at stake. John sets out the principles and specific provisions needed to “secure a place for those who wish to hold to the present teaching and practice of the Church” on sexual ethics. This will involve a “structural rearrangement of the CofE”. I note that John does not say anything about the situation if General Synod does not authorise such provisions and structural rearrangement. Nobody is presently trying to change the doctrines of Original Sin and the Wrath of God to which the 39 Articles, Homilies and Book of Common Prayer point. But are the terrible warnings and the wonderful invitations and promises believed and preached by the whole Church with the earnestness and urgency promised by those who have made the Declaration of Assent and their ordination vows? The clear answer to that is “No”. Most of the Church disagrees with the terrible warnings. This failure is surely more important than the same-sex disagreement, important though that is! That being the case the time has come to follow the remarkable example set out in Galatians 2:11-14: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”’ where one Apostle who met Christ on the Damascus Road openly rebuked another Apostle on whom Christ said he would build his Church. What is needed in the desperate situation of the Church of England is an open letter of challenge and rebuke to the Church about her failure, as a whole, to believe, teach and preach the terrible Biblical warnings of the Day of Judgment facing non-Christians, and the wonderful invitation to all to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection. A serious effort by the CEEC and Church Society to do everything possible to organise this would involve mobilising all the Diocesan Evangelical Groups to support such a letter together with an integrated plan to get this issue raised formally at all Synodical levels. Yours sincerely Philip Almond 35 Arnold Close, Preston, PR2 6DX Tel No 01772 704404 Email: email@example.com Reply Opinion – 7 October 2023 | Thinking Anglicans October 7, 2023 […] Goddard The Living Church Prayers of love and faith, (Arch-)Episcopal power and Anglican identity and in response Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Disturbing the Foundations: LLF, the Sexual […] Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.