A personal ‘Barmen Declaration’ in the light the Church of England’s current direction

Nov 29, 2023 by

by Tom Parsons, from Martin Davie’s blog:

The following is a personal statement by the Revd Tom Parsons who is a member of the Rochester Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship. I am posting it on this site because I think it is an important theological response to the vote by General Synod a fortnight ago to give a green light to the blessing of same-sex couples in Church of England churches.

On Wednesday 15th November this year, the Church of England’s General Synod voted to give the House of Bishops a green light to develop liturgy of blessing for sexually active same-sex couples.

The following day, Thursday, I prepared and delivered a seminar on the momentous Barmen Declaration. This defiant statement of faith takes its name from the German town in which it was formally accepted in May 1934. It states the convictions of those German Protestants who resisted the Nazi regime’s agenda for the Churches. It’s an utterly inspiring document, drafted principally by Karl Barth and supported strongly by Dieterich Bonhoeffer, then serving as a pastor in London. It asserts the rule of Jesus Christ over the Church and the prevailing culture, and it stands in stark opposition to those who welcomed National Socialist influence in the Churches.

By the Friday, my mind was full of both the General Synod and the Barmen Declaration. Today’s situation is not comparable with the uniquely dire circumstances that engulfed the German Church in 1934. Yet as two divergent theological visions emerged from Synod, Barmen’s sheer theological clarity got me wondering what a similar statement might say today. What would it affirm in response to the Synod debate, and what would it reject? To give my mind some rest, I eventually drafted a statement of my own theological convictions at this moment in the Church of England’s life, written in the form of the Barmen Declaration.

Here’s what I came up with. Barmen itself only has six sections. I couldn’t be so succinct, hence my eight. I have written a preamble, followed by eight sets of Bible verses, affirmations and rejections, all underlined by a concluding statement.

Read here


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