Disagreement and Faithfulness

May 1, 2019 by

by Susie Leafe, AAC:

Disagreement is never enjoyable.

Yet, I’m struck that it should not come as a surprise.  It seems that disagreement between those who call themselves Christians has been ‘normal’ from the beginning. After all, Jesus challenged the disciples when they argued over who would sit at his right hand, and He prayed that all those who followed them would know the oneness that he experienced with the Father.  Paul challenged the Corinthians (and many others), and James, Peter and John all felt it necessary to warn their readers about the dangers of pride, slander, meaningless arguments and a lack of love for one another.  I’m sure all of us have, at one point or another, experienced the pain these fallen attitudes cause in our local church families and, if you are anything like me, you will have also had to seek the forgiveness of God and of others for failing in these areas.

But, there is another threat to unity – and that is false teaching, which has, again, been present from the beginning.  False teaching that distorts the nature of God, distorts the nature of the gospel and either encourages legalism or licentiousness.  I am reminded of Mike Ovey’s extraordinary talk at GAFCON in 2013 – The Grace of God OR the World of the West.

At the moment, the unity of the Anglican Communion is threatened by both types of division.  Sadly, many believe the problem is only one of pride, a lack of love and grandstanding over meaningless arguments.

On Monday, at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting (ACC-17) in Hong Kong, their Secretary-General, talked about some bishops in the Anglican Communion being ‘deliberately ignorant’ and claimed that this ignorance is, “chewing us up and creating further divisions within the Communion.”  As you can see from the link above, the Church Times reporter suggests that these comments were addressed to Gafcon, though I cannot hear that on the recording. He did, however, comment on Gafcon later in his address, when he accused Gafcon of not adhering to the agreement of the Primates Meeting in 2016, to “walk together at a distance.”  In saying this he appears to ignore the original wording of the resolution, which spoke of their “desire to walk together,” but noted that the decision of TEC to introduce same-sex marriage was, “a fundamental departure from the faith,” and one which was too serious to overlook.

In a pre-ACC-17 press conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the question of whether we should celebrate same-sex marriage cannot be resolved – and later in his Presidential Address, he assumes that these differences do not prevent gospel unity – if only we would better love and serve one another.

This may sound wise and holy, to the modern ear, but I fear it ignores the warnings of the Word of God.

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