Editorial Blog

Dave Doveton is the Senior Editor of this website. These articles are mostly concerned with authentic, biblically orthodox Christian faith and its interaction with the Anglican Church, especially the Church of England, and the wider culture. Please press the ‘Refresh’ or “reload’ button to ensure you see the latest blog post at the top of this column.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted by on Mar 4, 2023 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on The Emperor’s New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes

By Dave Doveton.

Hans Christian Anderson’s children’s’ story is about a vain emperor who is swindled by two men who offer to weave him a magnificent set of new clothes. These new clothes they say are invisible to stupid and incompetent people. The emperor agrees to hire them, and the men go to work. When they are finished the emperor inspects the empty looms but says nothing in order not to be thought a fool. He then gets dressed in the ‘invisible clothes’ and sets out in a procession through the city. Crowds of townspeople turn out to see the emperor in his new clothes. They all go along with the charade, not wanting to appear stupid or foolish. Then a child blurts out the embarrassing truth “The emperor has no clothes!” The emperor however holds his head up and processes proudly onwards.


Modernism was still at its height when I and my contemporaries were at theological seminary and many of us were taught by divines who had been educated in the elite educational institutions of the United Kingdom and the United States. Most of the present leaders of western Anglicanism were also educated at that time.

The prevailing powerful ideas that drove modernism such as scientific materialism (which denied the existence of the spiritual realm and promoted the conceit that science can explain everything), individual autonomy, the narrative of unstoppable progress, all contributed to the devaluing of the supernatural. The historical-critical method in Biblical Studies was arguably a development made possible by modernism. While valuable in uncovering the world in which Biblical writers lived it also seems to have led to a sense of superiority among western scholars who at the least devalued the supernatural in scripture and at worst dismissed it. Scientific rationalism was the one true way of understanding the world and if parts of the bible did not fit that paradigm they were glossed over or discarded.

Global South bishops and Primates are often dismissed by the power elite of western church as intellectually backward. The notorious Bishop John Spong once said of Africans “They’ve moved out of animism into a very superstitious kind of Christianity. They’ve yet to face the intellectual revolution of Copernicus and Einstein that we’ve had to face in the developing world: that is just not on their radar screen.”[i] In 2008 John Chane, Bishop of Washington railed against accusations that his church was leading people into error by their revisionist stance saying that the African bishops’ claim to interpret scripture rightly was ‘dangerous’ and ‘demonic’[ii].

A colleague and friend who was ordained with me, was a few years into his pastoral ministry offered a chance to experience parish ministry in a Church of England Diocese. He gladly accepted and for several weeks preached, conducted services, and visited the homes of appreciative parochial families. On one occasion he encountered a severe case of demonic influence in a young man. This man had been through medical and psychiatric assessments and treatments to no avail. My colleague approached his bishop for permission to perform a needed deliverance, but the bishop denied the request indicating that he did not believe in the demonic realm! My friend was flabbergasted.

In essence this is a refusal to assign authority to the scriptural account of reality and especially the spiritual realm. If this is the case, are we really assigning authority to the Bible as we maintain? The Old and New Testaments agree on the nature of reality. That salvation is not just a ‘religious’ concept pertaining to the personal and private realm the on the one hand or a social programme on the other, but that Christ’s death and resurrection is a victory in a spiritual war between God’s kingdom and forces of darkness[iii]. That we, the Church are in a continuing spiritual battle until Christ returns. That powerful demonic forces are behind many of the pastoral problems we encounter, but also the errant teachings that arise from time to time[iv].

Here in Southern Africa, it is not uncommon to encounter instances of demonic influence in the lives of individuals which range from a mild oppression to outright possession. In the Diocese of Zululand priests and evangelists often experience quite serious spiritual opposition. A parish that I served in was situated in a region where there were known spirit mediums (or shamanistic practitioners) who could call down lightning from the heavens on a cloudless day.

African Christians can bring a much-needed spiritual discernment where matters of faith and doctrine are in question – especially in the areas of Christian anthropology and the doctrine of creation. Many African scholars, among them Yusufu Turaki and Afrika Mhlope have highlighted the Biblical worldview and also shown how it differs from African Traditional Religions.

The errant nature of gender ideology is a total denial of the creation order and the high doctrine of human beings. One of its main characteristics is the attack on the normativity of heterosexual marriage and thus on the bonds which undergird the family, secondly the polymorphic sexuality which blurs and destroys the creational boundaries defining male and female. Its dissolving of both the boundaries and the bonds that are the framework of the Creators design for human flourishing shows how anti-human and anti-God this ideology is.[v]

Jesus noted that the Pharisees were in error because they knew not “the scriptures nor the power of God”. That is, the intellectual Biblical study needed a spiritual discernment that was missing in their case. Gregory of Nazianzus stressed the connection between the intellectual and the spiritual in all theological endeavours and said that there could be no true theology without true holiness and its concomitant spiritual discernment.

Western Anglicanism represented by the Church of England, the Church of Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church (USA), and the Anglican Church of Canada, have set a course away from orthodoxy and the rest of the Communion and their leaders have like the emperor of Andersen’s tale donned the ‘new clothing’ of an errant gender doctrine. This ‘clothing’, they believe is invisible to the lesser mortals of Africa and the Global South, so they process on stubbornly. They ignore the prophetic pleadings of their brothers and sisters in the South at their peril.


[i] https://episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/the_living_church/TLCarticle.pl?volume=217&issue=7&article_id=12

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/17/religion

[iii] see especially Ephesians, Colossians, and Revelation.

[iv] 1 Timothy 4:1.

[v] This is also characteristic of ancient Greco-Roman belief systems, and we can thus characterise gender ideology as undoubtedly neo-pagan.


Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Posted by on Feb 17, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Ex-gay movement | Comments Off on Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Why is homosexuality a sin?: An ex-gay man’s testimony.

Editors Note:  From time to time I will have a guest on my blog to address issues of importance to the church. 

I am pleased to introduce my first guest – Sam Salter. Sam is an ex-gay man, and he shares his testimony – also his deep concerns about the decisions of the recent General Synod.

Once-atheist, Sam trained as a dancer until he discovered the harsh truths of the entertainment industry and dropped out of training prematurely in 2012. Seeking a new identity, he continued to ask questions about the true nature of reality, exploring psychology, philosophy and politics, until opening the door of his life to Christ in 2018. He currently attends a Baptist church in Devon, England, where he lives.
Sam can be contacted on Twitter: @samofsalter


By  Sam Salter.

In Paul the apostle’s trial before Agrippa, he shockingly reveals that when he was a Pharisee, his hatred for Christ’s followers was so, that not only did he put saints in prison and voted for their execution, but he even more sadistically “tried to force them to blaspheme” (Acts 26:9-11). After witnessing the extreme levels of delusion in synod last week, I ask: Is it possible that the Church of England has been usurped by a brood of vipers? Nothing is new under the sun.

The decision to bless same-sex marriages is outrageous and deeply saddening. I myself lived as an openly gay male for 12 years and it ruined me, but by God’s grace, not permanently. I thank God every day that I was shown the truth. I wasn’t a Christian when I decided to step away from my gay life however; I learned the hard way that homosexual relationships are dysfunctional and the gay identity is self-seeking and by default self-destructive. As I grow in spiritual maturity, my interest in homosexuality is decreasing whilst my natural God-given interest in women increases, thanks to the love of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ, who shows me more and more every day what it means to be a man of God: self-sacrificing, compassionate and mission-led, among many other things.

The emasculated church (and the consequently emasculated culture) prefers to place love above truth, as opposed to marrying the two. The arguments for same-sex marriage blessings could all be reduced to a sympathy plea – “We don’t want LGBT people to feel hurt” – a loving and legitimate concern but which paradoxically ignores God’s design for men and women. The argument against the blessings was essentially “Because scripture says so”, a scriptural truth that awkwardly suggests homosexuals simply must live a life of abstinence with no complaints. Ephesians 4:15 commands us to speak the truth in love, but I observe that what we saw in synod was a constant misfiring between the love of the compassionate members and the truth of the scripturally sound members. This is because knowledge of the homosexual condition (and perhaps even gender as a whole) has been buried out of sight of the mainstream for decades.

Telling the average homosexual to abstain for the rest of their life is like a parent condemning an infant to a life without its dummy – the removal of the pacifier causes much upset. The parent knows, however, that the benefits will outweigh the losses hundred-fold as the infant is forced to accept new challenges that will aid healthy development. Our society is plagued with various pacifiers – alcohol, drugs, social media, even fitness obsession, to name a few, which distract us from spiritual growth. I have come to understand that homosexuality has been my own pacifier of choice. I idolised my partners and became regressive, seeing them as the masculine to my feminine. My partners saw me in the same way which caused a lack of equilibrium in our relationship. The fruit of that life was minimal as the wages of sin are death and I failed to understand why I wasn’t maturing like others in my age group.

Much like with drug and alcohol addiction, it’s imperative that we understand the roots of these diseases so that we can help sufferers and those who are victims of their sins when we come to offer them the opportunity to wean off their pacifier. Quoting scripture isn’t enough when it comes to this highly emotive topic.

Catholic psychologist and psychotherapist Joseph Nicolosi Sr. treated people with unwanted same-sex attraction for over 30 years and stated emphatically throughout his career: “Homosexuality is not about sex; it’s about shame”. His therapeutic techniques (then-named Reparative Therapy) centre on theories inspired by the works of Christian psychologist Elizabeth Moberly and father of attachment theory John Bowlby, to name a few. The general idea in the case of a homosexual male (for instance) is that the boy has over-identified with his mother and rejected identification with his father at a crucial stage of his early development. This bleeds into interactions with peers at school (the boy is often bullied for being effeminate, thus his condition is exacerbated) and eventually the masculine world is seen as so mysterious and frustratingly unobtainable, it becomes eroticised during puberty. The homosexual man seeks himself through sex other men, but he of course misses the mark. It’s those early experiences that we need to pay attention to: the pre-homosexual boy makes these unconscious choices often due to an emotionally distant father (sometimes because of his neglect or abuse), an over-attached mother (who may be particularly anxious or overcompensating for the father’s absence) and/or childhood sexual abuse. 46% of homosexual men report having been molested at a young age compared to 7% of heterosexual men (M E Tomeo, 2001). Nicolosi’s therapeutic technique seeks to process these gender-based negative experiences and in so doing, removing the patient’s gender-based fears, making room for a more spiritual or emotional intimacy with the same sex, as opposed to a physical intimacy, diminishing the same-sex attraction. Since Nicolosi Sr’s unfortunate passing in 2017, his son Joseph Nicolosi Jr continues his legacy with Reintegrative Therapy™, of which I am myself a recipient. Activists that wish to ban so-called conversion therapy may call Reintegrative Therapy™ “dangerous” and it is – because it works.

It was Nicolosi Sr’s work that changed my mind about my own sexuality back in 2018, when I’d lived with my partner for 3 years. In a 45-minute YouTube video, I went from believing I was born gay to seeing that my homosexuality was causing a lot of grief and was linked to many other psychological problems, which for me included an eating disorder – issues that were previously unrelated in my mind. After the inevitable break-up from my partner, God provided me a new job and a place to live instantly so I could begin my new life back in my home town. It was around this time that I met Mike Davidson from Core Issues Trust – a charity that works tirelessly offering support to people like me and fighting against the false “born this way” narrative. God would later put me in touch with a therapist who offered to treat me free of charge and a brother in Christ who sponsored me to see another therapist. I’ve also been blessed with Christian brothers all around the world to sharpen me and build me up as a man.

A common argument we hear in support of same-sex relationships is “love is love”. Love is, indeed, love, but is homosexuality love? If “love” means to put your partner’s needs before yours, then no. If “love” is expressed by consummation that creates life and bonds two partners, then no again. In 1984, two gay researchers, David McWhirter and Andrew Mattison, set out to enlighten gay men on what makes a good gay relationship in their work ‘The Male Couple’. They found that out of 156 gay male couples, not one of those couples were able to maintain fidelity for more than 5 years (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 62). If love is patient, kind and not self-seeking, it is sure to keep 2 people in a monogamous relationship for more than 5 years.

Although Nicolosi’s explanations of gender development and homosexuality are widely accepted among the ex-gay community, not all ex-gay people engage in therapy, for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, I note that psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler states in his book ‘Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life?’ that “the feminine identification is in itself a defense – it’s the admission of the lesser crime” and that actually the root of the problem is a kind of masochism (“pleasure in displeasure”) created in early infancy.

Dutch psychologist Gerard Van Den Aardweg bases his own ideas on Bergler’s by implying that an addiction to self-pity is what prevents the pre-homosexual boy from escaping his gender-based hurts: “‘Many pre-homosexual boys had feelings of “not belonging” with their fathers, brother or other boys…the child and the adolescent automatically react to feelings of inferiority and “not belonging” with self-pity or self-dramatization…[he] can become attached to this attitude, especially when he withdraws into himself and has no one to help him work through his problems with understanding, encouragement and firmness.”  (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 48)

He boldly suggests that homosexuals are too self-seeking to love in any way, let alone romantically: “His complex directs his attention to himself; he seeks attention and love, recognition, and admiration for himself, like a child. His self-centredness thwarts his capacity to love, to be really interested in others, to take responsibility for others, to give and to serve…” (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 66).

Van Aardweg therefore concludes that the love gay couples have for each other is false: “Homosexual unions are clinging relationships of two essentially self-absorbed “poor me’s”’ (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 63). “Many homosexuals feign warmth and love for their partners and delude themselves into believing these sentiments are real, but in effect they cherish a self-serving sentimentality and play a game” (Van Den Aardweg, 1997, p. 133).

His harsh critique gives us insight into why exactly homosexuality was perceived as, and categorised under, “Sociopathic personality disturbances” in the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders back in 1952, before it was removed in 1974 – one of the many fruits of the so-called sexual revolution.

I hope at this stage that it’s clear to the reader that to love a homosexual means to help them expose and process their hurts around their gender deficit and encourage them to walk in faith with their brothers (if a man) or sisters (if a woman) to help them establish a healthy gender identity. “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

Another favourite argument of the pro-LGBT crowd, if we fail to address the roots of homosexuality, is “LGBT people need acceptance”. Gay marriage became legal for the first time back in 2001 in the Netherlands. Yet in 2013, Dutch gay men were still three times more likely to have a mood disorder and ten times more likely to engage in suicidal self-harm (Aggarwal & Gerrets, 2013). Acceptance of homosexual practices evidently did not help this population.

The enemy loves to twist language to mislead as he takes delight in chaos. For instance, how much has social media in fact caused social isolation? Note a similar irony in the word “Pride”. The go-to Christian analysis of the association between pride and LGBT is the correct notion that “Pride comes before a fall”. But I add that the irony in the concept of being “proud” in the context of LGBT is that as previously outlined, the homosexual condition comes from a deep sense of shame and LGBT people are far from proud of who they are. LGBT Pride marches seek not to exclaim self-contentment, but instead, the increasingly sexual nature of these marches demonstrate a collective anger, bitterness and a desperate plea for attention – “Help me, I feel inferior”. Ironically, the more political acceptance LGBT people get, the bigger the marches and media campaigns get.

The sad truth is that LGBT people will never be satisfied with their imaginary idea of acceptance, because the very essence of their condition lends itself to what psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler calls “Injustice collecting”: “The entire personality structure of the homosexual is pervaded by the unconscious wish to suffer; this wish is gratified by self-created trouble-making…if [external difficulties] were to be removed…the homosexual would still be an emotionally sick person” (Bergler, 1962, p. 9). Paul refers to a time when marriage is prohibited (1 Timothy 4:3) – perhaps we are seeing the foundations being laid for such a time – it’s outlandish but not impossible to imagine that this evil trend of faux-acceptance will not stop until the idea of any kind of committed union is meaningless.

Acceptance of the same-sex attracted individual means acceptance of who they are as a grieving man or woman who needs assistance in embracing their God-given gender role, offering “understanding, encouragement and firmness” as recommended by Van Den Aardweg, not just to calm their feelings of inferiority (“I’m not strong like other men”/”I’m not soft like other women”), but also to confront their habitually masochistic behaviour as mentioned by Bergler.

Acceptance of homosexual practices only feeds their inner turmoil and erodes our society, creating suspicion in same-sex spaces and separation of men and women. The ensuing miscommunication fractures our society, so that truth and love are on separate playing fields, creating a vacuum that the enemy will use to fill with his lies. The impending ban on so-called conversion therapy seeks to ban people like me from getting direct psychological and even prayerful assistance with this issue. I call upon the church to revive traditional gender roles as outlined in scripture to circumvent any ban that is put in place.

Christ showed the Samaritan woman at the well a mirror. He penetrated her heart when he told her that he knew how many husbands she’d had, a truth that she likely buried out of shame, and it stunned her. It’s well known around the world that the English are conflict-avoidant to their detriment. And so I pray: May we confront this idea by speaking those buried truths – whether gender-related or otherwise – that stun our friends, family and loved ones, rebuking and exhorting, with utmost compassion, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Works Cited

Aggarwal, S., & Gerrets, R. (2013). Exploring a Dutch paradox: an ethnographic investigation of gay men’s mental health. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24236852/

Bergler, E. (1962). Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life? New York: Collier Books.

M E Tomeo, D. I. (2001). Comparative data of childhood and adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. Retrieved from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11501300

Nicolosi, J. J. (2016). Shame and Attachment Loss. USA: Liberal Mind Publishers.

Van Den Aardweg, G. J. (1997). The Battle For Normality. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.




Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

Posted by on Feb 6, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Prayer | Comments Off on Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

Prayers of “love and faith” or a liturgy for Baal?

by Dave Doveton:

In recent days the Bishops of the Church of England released their response to the Living in Love and Faith process, which included a draft set of prayers and liturgies. These “Prayers of Love and Faith” are, say the bishops, “a way of affirming welcoming and giving thanks for couples who are committed to be faithful to one another and to serving God” which is all very high sounding and admirable. However, what has precipitated the censorious response from the Anglican world especially the global south, is the fact that these liturgies include “prayers of blessing for couples including same sex couples”. In other words, they can be used to bless same-sex relationships. [1] The bishops in effect have tacitly approved the godliness and Christian acceptability of same-sex unions such that they can be blessed in the name of the church during a service or in a special liturgy. [2]

Much of the justification for this stance regarding same sex unions rests on the uncritical adoption of new ideologies of ontology. Chief among these is the adoption of modern gender ideology and its concomitant offspring – gender identity. Gender ideology is a post-modern deconstruction of the biblical understanding of human identity. It stems from a popular culture which, as George Weigel has noted, “…dismisses out of hand the very notion that there is a morally significant givenness to reality: a structure of The Way Things Are that can be discerned by reason and that, being known, discloses certain truths about the way we should live.”[3] In this understanding our sexual selves are believed to be socially constructed, not predetermined and inborn. Thus, “people dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being.  They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”[4]

Instead of the Christian belief that sexual identity is a given rooted in biological reality; male and female, sexual identity is now something we as autonomous individuals choose for ourselves, based in part on latent attractions, feelings and desires. Thus, arising from the polymorphic nature of fallen human desire, we have the almost limitless varieties of ‘gender’ – gay, bisexual, transgender etc. All ‘gender’ self-definitions are exactly that – ideological self-definitions, intellectual constructs. These self-identifications, which are not only totally subjective and non-examinable assertions, are also contingent on a prior suppression of the truth which accords with the Creators intention. Biblical scholar Robert Gagnon has highlighted how in Romans 1:18-32, Paul bears witness to the fact that all humans sin by suppressing the truth about themselves evident in creation and how that suppression leads to certain consequences. Gender ideology in effect rejects the divine architecture of only two complementary sexes, male and female, which are meant for each other in an exclusive and permanent heterosexual union called marriage. When people reject God’s truth about themselves revealed in their bodily existence, they paradoxically invest those same bodies with the transcendent values that belong only to God – and that of course is a form of idolatry.

To put it another way; if we claim one of the numerous gender ‘identities’ as who we are, we conflate innate desires (even if not chosen) with identity and thus absolve the self of accountability and responsibility for our sexual behaviour. This is in fact to remove the basis for all moral accountability in a social or corporate sense. We become the arbiters of what is right and wrong for ourselves – we claim to be our own gods. It is worth noting that in the Hebrew bible, ba’al [5] and its cognates means “owner” or “husband” and can relate to both ownership of physical items such as land, being lord or master of a household, or community; or it can mean the possession of certain internal qualities or traits of personality (as in Proverbs 22:24, 23:2, 24:8). In the contemporary understanding of the human person as a private owner of their desires and behaviour, we could well say that in such an understanding people are their own ‘baals’.

The New Testament almost always, when speaking about sexual immorality, associates it with idolatry. Take Ephesians 5:5; “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is an idolater) has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” [6] The phrase sexually immoral or impure is meant as an all-encompassing phrase to include all sexual behaviour censured by the Old Testament moral code. Here, as with the almost identical Colossians 3:5, 6, Paul is warning believers that sexual immorality is a mark of the pagan lifestyle and a rejection of the Lordship of Christ. Again, in Revelation 2:20, the false teacher named ‘Jezebel’ is accused of teaching and seducing the Christians of Thyatira into sexually immoral behaviour. Here we have a powerful intertextual reference to the Old Testament. Jezebel, of course, was the Tyrian princess whom king Ahab married and who brought into Israel the worship of Baal together with numbers of cultic prophets of Baal.

In a similar vein, Paul warns the flock, “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play””.[7] This is a reference to an incident in the Old Testament in which the people made offerings to Aaron’s golden calf, and then indulged in the immoral practices of the Canaanite Baal cult. To make his point clear and to emphasise it he adds, “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day”, referring to Exodus 32:28.

Again, the writer to the Hebrews issues a strong admonition; “See to it…that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau…”[8] Sexual immorality is associated with the “bitter root” of idolatry in Deuteronomy 29:18; “Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit…”

Prophets of the Old Testament such as Elijah saw the root cause of Israel’s problems as a theological one “How long will you go limping between two opinions”, he says, “if Baal is god, worship him, but if YHWH is god, worship him”. The Israelites did not deny YHWH, nor did they destroy the sanctuaries at which YHWH was worshipped, they merely brought in the Asherah poles. Idolatry here is not disbelief in the true God but permitting another god to stand in his presence – to paraphrase Tertullian. Thus, idolatry can take on a cultic expression, but in essence it is the surrender of the will to something or someone other than God – it can mean the surrender of our will to bodily appetites and desires in place of surrendering to God’s revealed will.

The first chapter of the book of Romans (verses 18-32), reveals the psycho-social dynamic that is released within a culture that suppresses the truth about the creator God. Human beings turn from worshipping the creator to worshipping the creation; in Old Testament terms they turn from worshipping Yahweh the creator to the worship of Baal who is the personification of the creative principle or the principle of generation. This has both a male and female form – Asherah as well as Baal. The phallic symbols associated with Baal cult and other pagan fertility cults throughout the world show how this can eventually turn to the worship of human genitalia.

Idolatry is the divinization of nature, investing what is created with transcendent value which belongs to God alone. This is true not only of external nature – the visual and corporeal, but of inner nature as well. This means our instincts and innate desires are divinized, invested with transcendent value. The apostle Paul warns Timothy about this very great danger of reversion within the church – people will be lovers of self…lovers of pleasure…led astray by various passions. [9] Of course not all non-heterosexual relationships manifest in this way; many are monogamous and display great virtue. However, being virtuous in our relationships does not exempt us from obeying God’s commands.

Idolatry is neither a purely cultic nor a purely individual affair in view of its spiritual basis. An idolater is not merely one who prays to Baal, Zeus, or the Buddha (although these are included); nor is it true that individual sin of idolatry has no effect on the wider church. It has a corporate dimension and a corporate effect when practiced, just as sexual immorality does. Paul describes this reality when speaking of the incident in the Corinthian church where a man’s immoral sexual relationship is tolerated by the leadership. We are part of the mystical body of Christ (1 Cor 6:15) and the sexually immoral person sins against the body. A little leaven, says Paul, leavens the whole lump; this corrupting influence includes, among other sins, idolatry, and sexual immorality.

To understand the psycho-spiritual dynamic the scripture teaches is inherent in same-sex relations, it is instructive to start in the Old Testament. The book of Genesis from its first verses reveals the ordering of reality. Space, time, and the universe are all ordered with a binary nature. There is light and dark, heaven and earth, male and female. In fact, the binary of male and female is a representative template and microcosm of the whole of creation and of God’s intended relationship with his human creation (as in marriage).

The rest of the TORAH or first five books, reveal God’s moral order. The Old Testament moral code has always formed the basis of the New Testament moral standards and is explicitly affirmed in the 39 Articles. In Leviticus 18:22-23, the prohibitions against same-sex behaviour and what is now euphemistically called ‘zoophilia” are associated not because they are equivalent, but because they are to’ay’baw (or abhorrence and unclean) and teh’bel (confusion, a violation of the natural created order). Joseph Boot notes that,

“…these terms are significant because biblically these acts are acts of chaos that flow out of a religious perspective that believes in primeval chaos, whereby social revitalization occurs when man returns to chaos by acts of chaos” [10]

Both these acts are chaotic because they break the God ordered distinctions and separations (the binary nature of creation) which are necessary for human wholeness and flourishing.  In addition, Leviticus teaches very clearly that these behaviours both result in the defiling of the individual offenders, the community, and the whole land. The consequence – a vivid metaphor of violent expulsion – the community will be vomited out of their land. This metaphoric Hebrew bodily expression captures the idea of purgation that must follow such corruption if there is to be eventual healing of the land.

It is therefore clearly not merely a prohibition of a cultic practice, but a prohibition of these behaviours in themselves because they ultimately destroy individual lives, the family, and the community. They promote a pagan worldview antithetical to the truth about reality and the purpose of God for human beings. The ‘blessing’ of what God has expressly forbidden in very strong terms as equivalent to idolatry is surely going to have a terrible spiritual consequence for the sanctuaries that host these events. In bringing what God regards as unholy into a holy place is a desecration of the holy and arguably a sign of the spirit of antichrist.[11]

The fact that two people who are engaged in an actively homosexual relationship can come up to the altar rail for a ‘blessing’ is in Biblical terms an affirmation not of something positive and life-giving, but a sign of a return to chaos. It is in essence no different from the idea that two people in an adulterous or incestuous relationship can do so. It is abhorrent to both the letter and spirit of the scriptures. Wolfhard Pannenburg, arguably one of the most respected protestant theologians of the twentieth century, gave a sobering assessment of a church that permits this practice.

“Here lies the boundary of a Christian church that knows itself to be bound by the authority of Scripture. Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” [12]

….in other words, it would be apostate.

Dave Doveton, February 2023.


[ 1] The distinction between blessing the couple and blessing the relationship is a fine point which will not be noticed by most people.

[2] Despite denials by the Legal Office, Martin Davie has shown that this is clearly the case. “… by allowing the marking in a church service of same sex civil marriages the Church of England would be saying that it is right (in the words of the Preface to the draft prayers) ‘to celebrate in God’s presence the commitment two people have made to each other,’ even when the couple involved are ‘coupled together otherwise than God’s word doth allow.’ See “Failing the Green Test II”, retrieved at https://mbarrattdavie.wordpress.com/.

[3] Weigel, George,  Reality and Public Policy,  essay published by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, accessed 5th February, 2023 from http://www.eppc.org/publication/reality-and-public-policy/.

[4] Weigel, op. cit.

[5] Baal is a word used by semitic tribes, signifying ownership or possession (especially describing a husband taking of his wife) by a master. It came to denote the Semitic nature god who was worshipped under different aspects in various localities.

[6] Although in the Greek grammar, the phrase “which is idolatry” modifies the word “covetousness,” most New Testament commentators agree that “covetousness” and thus idolatry is at the root of all the preceding vices. See for example Pao, D.W.  Colossians and Philemon, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 2012, pp220-221. Non marital sexual relations are always associated with idolatry in the Old Testament.

[7] 1 Corinthians 10:7.

[8] Hebrews 12:16,17.

[9] 2 Timothy 3:2-4.

[10] Boot, Joseph, The Mission of God, A Manifesto of Hope for Society, Wilberforce, LONDON, 2016, p335.

[11] Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14.

[12] Accessed 06 February from: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1996/november11/6td035.html. 

“I will be who I will be”: Exodus 3 and Gender Identity

Posted by on Jan 16, 2023 in Editorial Blog, Uncategorized | Comments Off on “I will be who I will be”: Exodus 3 and Gender Identity

Our western culture is being swept by a tide of neo-gnostic idealism where the psychological will of the internal self can override the limits of bodily materialism.  So, men attempt to change into ‘women’ by hormonal drugs and surgical intervention, likewise women into ‘men’. This notwithstanding the fact that every cell in their bodies declares their real and biological identity – every human being’s DNA is either male or female. In the Judeo-Christian understanding we are created by a sovereign God whose purpose for us is stamped in our biology. This purpose is manifest in the joining of male and female in marriage to procreate and exercise dominion in the earth.

Jordan Peterson has pointed to a psychological and spiritual truth that lies at the heart of contemporary gender ideology and the desire to remake our identity in opposition to our created biological reality. He highlights the scripture in Exodus Chapter 3 in which God reveals himself to Moses as YHWH, the enigmatic Hebrew name of God which simply put can mean both “I am who I am” and “I will be who I will be”. God identifies himself as self-existent and independent of anybody else for his self-understanding and self-expression. Transgenderism is in essence a rejection of an identity and purpose given by the Creator, and the hubristic arrogation of the right of identification to ones-self. Furthermore, also the right to change this self-identification in the future (I will be who I will be).

The self-identifying of transgenderism is in essence a claim to be our own creators – our own gods. It is in fact the same sentiment expressed in Genesis 3:5 by the enemy, “you will be like God”. Self-deification is a serious affront to God; The prophet Isaiah points to self-deification as that which lies at the heart of Babylonian idolatry, “You felt secure in your wickedness; you said, “No one sees me”, your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”” (Isaiah 47:10)

Of course, Genesis expresses the fall in the story of Adam and Eve, the consequences of which are the myriad categories of human brokenness. When awareness of sin breaks into human consciousness, there is the instinctive reaction to sew fig leaves together to hide one’s nakedness. Human shame is a powerful motivator and human beings seem to have limitless ways of trying to deal with it – including trying to change their gender. However, as many have discovered, rather too late after transitioning, fig leaves don’t really help. It is only through Christ’s atoning work that the alienation from our creator can be overcome and all the psycho-spiritual inner healing that is necessary begun.

Remaking ourselves and our sexual ‘identity’ is nothing new. The cult of Cybele in the ancient Roman empire required its male priests known as Galli to castrate themselves and on cultic occasions to parade through the streets of a city wearing women’s clothing, elaborate hairdos, perfume and playing musical instruments. Paul saw these and other pagan cults as a manifestation of an exchange; an exchange of the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. For we are made in God’s image, but in our unregenerate state we suppress the truth regarding the image of God by altering and trying to erase that image. How else do you explain the utter lunacy of a man who thinks he can transform himself into a collie dog[i]? For some it may even be a sign of the rejection of God himself, a railing against him by erasing and defiling his image. It would do well to remember the theological reason given for the death penalty in the case of murder – “…for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:5-6) Violent attacks on God’s image are in some sense attacks on the very person of God.

Presently we have Church of England priests who have attempted to erase their created identity and self-create a new one[ii]. The fact that they loudly proclaim their transgender identity and write liturgies to celebrate this supposed identity is an indication that the church has in some quarters opened its doors to a pagan culture that is quite as degenerate as that of ancient Rome. We just have the technology to take it further. Strange that the Archbishop of Canterbury can see the vandalism of a cemetery in Jerusalem as a desecration but says nothing about the attempted erasure of the image of God by a transgendered priest.

It is perhaps understandable given the fallenness of human nature, that western culture once based upon a Christian understanding of the human person could fall back into the darkness of a pagan gender ideology. But when this ideological captivity enters the church, the darkness enters as well. Perhaps one illustration may indicate just how dark things can become.

I recently watched a new documentary on the fall of Berlin in 1945 on Curiosity Channel. The second episode ended with the diary accounts of several members of the Nazi high command as Russian troops closed in on their headquarters. The harrowing suicide of the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels together with his wife was covered in some detail. A photograph of his five beautiful children in a family group portrait was followed by a scene of their murdered bodies. He had killed his own children before killing himself. His reason? He could not see any meaning to life after Nazism.  This man was so captive to a pagan ideology that he could not imagine life without it to the extent he ended not only his own life but also the lives of his wife and children. The point is this; in several Western countries today, children are being encouraged to ‘change’ their gender – is this not an ideological captivity and are we not also sacrificing our children?

Rev Dave Doveton, Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)  South Africa                                                                                    Epiphany 2023

[i] https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/wtf/japanese-man-spent-rs-12-lakh-to-become-a-dog-570972.html

[ii] https://anglican.ink/2023/01/04/the-church-of-england-accelerates-its-drain-circling-trajectory/

Editorial blog retrospective

Posted by on Dec 6, 2022 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on Editorial blog retrospective

Editorial blog retrospective


Press Release includes a message from Anglican Mainstream’s Chair of Trustees, and details of how readers can make a comment.

Andrew Symes says: This is the end of my editorial blog for Anglican Mainstream. We hope this ministry has helped readers to track not only key events in national and global Anglicanism, but also linking them to the steady and relentless advance of an ideological secular revolution in Western culture, which has profoundly affected the way people think and act in all areas of life. The blog will remain as an archive.

When I started this work in 2013, Justin Welby had just become Archbishop of Canterbury, and Parliament had just given its approval for the change in the definition of marriage. The second Gafcon gathering coincided with the release of the Church of England Pilling Report on sexual ethics, which advocated a gradual liberalisation of Christian sexual morality and how it should be reflected in church teaching, appointments and liturgies.

We have seen this policy play itself out, as 2022 ends with bishops publicly calling for a major change in how the church understands sex and marriage, while significantly, at the same time, the results of the 2021 census show further rapid decline in nominal Christian affiliation in the United Kingdom, although regular total church attendance (counting all denominations together) seems to be holding steady.

Here is a selection of  blog posts from over the years (more than 200 in total), commenting on the transition occurring in the soul of Western culture, and its effects on the church and Anglicanism in particular.



Why is a new Anglican jurisdiction necessary? The consecration of new bishops for the Anglican Network in Europe is more than just a new mission initiative.

What are the main problems with contemporary secular culture, and why? A brief summary of Carl Trueman’s book ‘Strange New World,’, and some implications for the faithful church.

Bishop sides with Pride against orthodox clergy . Bishop of Dorchester Gavin Collins supports a ban on ‘conversion therapy’, and would therefore support the future criminalisation of his own clergy if they teach the biblical view of marriage, or by counselling someone who wants to manage same sex desires in a faith-directed way.

Psalm 103 – four dimensions of reality. Turning back to the ancient wisdom of the Scriptures ensures that the church critiques false ideology, and then offers a saving and wholesome way of thinking about self, based on truth and humility.



The authentic church: witness to the reality of the spiritual. An initial reflection on Michael Nazir-Ali’s departure to Roman Catholicism, concluding that what matters is not the church label, but the extent to which the church is restating the truth and refuting error, and prioritising a spiritual, not just organisational and tactical focus.

Australian and English evangelicals show different approaches to Anglican institutional revisionism. Unlike CEEC’s more gentle advocacy of “no change” to doctrine and practice from a place of good relationships with the institution, Gafcon Australia takes a more robust line, taking a first step in providing an Anglican home for those who in conscience cannot remain in the denomination.

Power today: using the energy of how people feel to control how we should think. If we want to understand what is behind some of the theological and ethical confusion in society and the church, Brendan O’Neill’s blog ‘The tyranny of ‘lived experience’ is worth reading.

Increase in LGBT identity in the West, “herd mentality”, and the church’s response. We are now no longer a pluralist society, where different views and independence of thought are valued, but one based on a monoculture of ‘woke’ values increasingly enforced by law. How does affect the church’s mission strategy?



The Church of England’s guide to hearing God’s voice through the bible, according to LLF. The main textbook for Living in Love and Faith purports to lay out different views of Scripture and how key passages on sex and marriage should be interpreted. But in fact it is based from start to finish on revisionist theological method, an attempt to adapt Christianity to secularism and neo-paganism.

Should evangelicals stay in the C of E? These reasons aren’t good enough! We must question the assumption that only in friendly dialogue and “walking together” with heresy will evangelicals avoid drifting into obscurity and irrelevance.

Repenting of privilege, signalling virtue, following the crowd. Does the new fashion for white people from an affluent background ‘repenting of privilege’ come from the Holy Spirit, or from Robespierre, Marx and Mao? How should Christians from such backgrounds think and act?

Kenny’s stages of rebellion, and the church’s response. A case study to illustrate how the debate around sex and marriage is not just about individual desires and behaviours, and how we interpret the bible. It is about a sense of identity, and how we respond to a new ideology driving societal change.



The whole gospel addresses the world’s wrong thinking, not just the church’s comfort. According to a former Archbishop of Sydney, some evangelical preaching narrows down the word of God to a message of personal salvation, rather than expanding on the major social implications of the gospel. There should not be an escapist, pietistic separation of “world” and “church”, but a wider commendation of a God-given vision for human flourishing.

Cathedral gimmicks illustrate spiritually blind Britain and mute Church. The Church of England is the custodian of a magnificent heritage, but when it’s failing to explain the meaning of the buildings, and permits light entertainment and even different messages with opposing spiritualities, it’s no longer promoting the beauty of God and his reality, but spiritual confusion.

‘Churchianity’ challenge to evangelical complacency. A booklet by Joe Boot points out the flaws in liberal Christianity, where the Kingdom of God is associated with secular ‘progressive’ values, and in evangelical pietism which avoids controversial clashes with society’s leaders and agendas, because it associates God’s kingdom entirely with the church.

Why we need the global Church. The church in the West needs to admit weakness, and turn to the church in the global south for inspirational lessons, help and prayer.



Anglicans and Transgender: A series of reflections from 2015-2018

Did we witness social action / evangelism ‘holy grail’ on BBC documentary? Amid church-wide discussions on how best to engage with urban poverty, a profile on the charity Christians Against Poverty showed broken-and-mended servants giving life changing practical assistance to downtrodden individuals, and also starting the walk of faith with them

Three paradoxes of Christian faith: reflections on Ephesians. Grace and work; love for and critique of the world; serenity and struggle.

Gafcon’s “Letter to the Churches” encapsulates authentic Christianity with clarity, firmness and grace.  A report and reflection on the Gafcon Jerusalem conference of June 2018.



England’s orthodox Anglicans: agreed on Synod’s implications, divided on what to do. General Synod of July 2017 saw a decisive move away from Christian orthodoxy in the Church of England. But among those wanting to remain faithful to Scripture, there is a wide spectrum of views on what to do.

Bishop of Chelmsford calls for “prayers of thanksgiving” for same sex relationships. Stephen Cottrell [now Archbishop of York] called for prayers of thanksgiving for same sex relationships as part of “radical new Christian inclusion”.

Local church and global mission. A couple return from long term service in Africa to teach their new English congregation about mission (fictional account, based on true stories).

Reading the Bible upside down. The global fellowship of Gafcon provides affluent Anglicans with an opportunity to look with fresh eyes at Scripture, still as God’s word, but from the perspective of the poor.



‘Our bodies proclaim the Gospel’ – Christopher West’s insightful biblical theology of sex and marriage. [Reports on the Conference in January 2016].

Journeys in, or moving away from, grace and truth? A review of a book of essays by bishops, clergy and senior lay people, advocating change to the Church of England’s teaching and practice, edited by Jayne Ozanne.

Sowing in tears on the hard ground of the West. Biblical Christianity gives a compelling, coherent, hopeful view of ‘life, the universe and everything’. So why do people not believe? Is the church to blame for failing to get the Christian message out? Has the Gospel ‘lost’ in the battle of ideas?



Bark at the cat, not the blackbird. When authentic Christian faith is under pressure from social media attacks, ‘moderate’ evangelicals often attack the easy target of their more conservative brethren, rather than the real enemy.



The weekend when Britain changed. 29th March was when same sex couples married for the first time. Where was the church?

‘Sexuality and holiness’ – a review

Posted by on Nov 1, 2022 in 2-Important Posts, Christianity, Editorial Blog, Sexuality | Comments Off on ‘Sexuality and holiness’ – a review

‘Sexuality and holiness’ – a review

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

An excellent new resource on a faithful Christian response to sexuality and gender controversies courageously goes further than many standard evangelical treatments of this challenging topic. ‘Sexuality and holiness: Remaining loving and biblically grounded in a rapidly shifting culture’ is written by Mike Williams, the senior minister of Reigate Baptist church, and it is rooted in a pastoral heart, as well as clear biblical understanding and also unusual spiritual and prophetic insight.

It has become almost a cliché to speak of the necessity for those with a conservative view of the Christian faith and sexuality, to use a “winsome” tone. Williams certainly does that. From the first page, he gives us an insight into his own personality and life in his family home – he is a real person with feelings, struggles and genuine empathy, not just a voice with an argument. The style of the book is informal, with short sentences and rhetorical questions. He covers a lot of ground and deals with a significant amount of theological material in a non-academic way, for the thoughtful church member not just the clergy.

There is a repeated emphasis on the need for those coming from a traditional position to show love and compassion, and avoid judgmentalism and hypocrisy. But Williams does not shy away from repeatedly questioning the assumptions and conclusions of the liberal view in a punchy way.

The ‘meat’ of the book is a survey of what the bible teaches on the subject of gender and sexuality. He begins further back, looking to convince the reader of the reliability and authority of Scripture, the character of God, the reality and seriousness of human sin in general. Then he answers some commonly asked questions: is the Old Testament law still relevant for New Testament Christians? What do Paul and the other writers of the epistles teach on sexuality? Does Jesus mention the subject, and if so is he in agreement with Paul and the Old Testament? The author ends this section with looking at male and female in the creation narrative, and lastly the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

Williams deals with all this giving enough examples to show the weight of the scriptural witness overwhelmingly pointing to a “sacred, ordained order for creation” (p80) where sexual relations between one man and one women in marriage are celebrated as a great good. But he does not get bogged down in exegetical detail. His concern is always to answer real viewpoints, questions and objections; using what Scripture clearly says to point to God and what he wants of his creatures and his church.

He moves on to write about the implications of following God’s blueprint for humanity – the cost of discipleship. The church is in danger of silence or compromise on something which is clearly taught in God’s word, because of a desire to win people, and a fear of censure and persecution. But Christians should always choose the values of the Kingdom of God over those of culture. A new emphasis on “taking up the cross” needs to be communicated for today’s generation of Christians. Each chapter in the book ends with “a note of encouragement”, and here a story about a drug dealer receiving supernatural help to give up the addiction and the lifestyle is used to answer the objection that what the bible teaches about sexuality is too costly for people with same sex attraction.

The book ends with a helpful chapter of suggestions on how to share the gospel with those with same sex desires and the LGBT community. The focus here is on one to one pastoring, with an emphasis on love – but Williams is very aware of, and saddened by, possible accusations of “conversion therapy”.

There are many evangelical resources on this topic which broadly contain similar biblical and pastoral material, and stop there. Williams goes further by addressing the rapidly changing culture. The relentless promotion of LGBT, he suggests, is not just a new awareness of compassion for a previously persecuted minority group, but “marketing a new alternative to God’s created order” (p113). There is “an agenda to convert” to a new ideology, identity and lifestyle; there are more and more examples of clamping down on any public dissent from the universal endorsement of LGBT lifestyle and values. He gives the example of feminist academic Kathleen Stock who was hounded out of her job for being critical of transgender. This amounts to a dangerous removal of freedom of expression which is bewildering, and contributes to churches losing their confidence in teaching the bible.

But what is behind this? The sexual revolution (Williams doesn’t use this term, but effectively describes it) could be a spiritual deception, where satan and demonic forces are operating to oppose God’s good plan for humanity. Williams is aware of being misunderstood here, and qualifies his suggestion by emphasising he is not talking about individuals with particular desires being worse than others, but the agenda and values of a godless movement. There is a need for spiritual discernment, and prophetic speaking and action on the part of faithful Christians. The massive increase in LGBT identity and affiliation to the cause of ‘diversity and inclusion’ has coincided with the decline of the church in the West. Could this be the judgement of God, as the dynamic of Romans 1:24 (“God gave them over…”) is worked out?

There is a need for widespread repentance – again, for all sin not just homosexuality – as we recognise the right of God to send tribulation. Will faithful women and men stand in the gap, in intercession, pleading for God’s mercy on the nation and the church, hoping for revival? Williams urges his readers to preach the gospel with added urgency and deep compassion.

It is these last two sections, dealing with the oppressiveness of the normalisation of LGBT in the culture, and the spiritual implications, which mark this book out from some other popular evangelical treatments. Williams concludes: “It is time for the Church to stand on the Word of God, in the Spirit of God, lovingly but without compromise.” His book is an excellent resource to assist those who say “Amen”.


For those wanting to follow on from Williams’ book, I’d like to suggest four other areas for further study, reflection and prayer:

  • The philosophical roots of the LGBT ideology, and secular humanism more broadly. Carl Trueman has been a tremendous help here.
  • The possibility (note the caution…) of change in desires, sometimes through careful, voluntarily sought counselling, sometimes spontaneously through the work of the Holy Spirit. In some evangelical treatments there is an assumption that same sex attraction is innate and permanent. See the testimonies from X Out Loud.
  • The way that male-female marriage (separate, different, coming together) points to the relationship between God and humanity / Christ and the church. Christopher West provides a good introduction to the ‘theology of the body’.
  • The global realignment of the denominations, as faithful Christians in the West are having to sadly distance themselves from those in the same denomination with very different views, and yet finding help from the churches of the global south (eg here and here).

Why is a new Anglican jurisdiction necessary?

Posted by on Oct 24, 2022 in Anglican Network in Europe, Culture, Editorial Blog | Comments Off on Why is a new Anglican jurisdiction necessary?

Why is a new Anglican jurisdiction necessary?

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

It’s very encouraging to read Andrew Atherstone’s report on the Psephizo site on the consecration of three new bishops for the Anglican Network in Europe in Hull last week (more here…). Andrew is a respected academic church historian with many years experience in the teaching, administration and pastoral care involved in forming future clergy at Wycliffe Hall. He has written for the wider market as well: a biography of Justin Welby and more recently, an account and evaluation of the Alpha Course phenomenon. A member of General Synod and of wider Anglican councils both in England and overseas, yet known for his clear conservative evangelical convictions, he is well placed to offer an assessment of Gafcon and the emergence in Britain and continental Europe of a Gafcon-authorised jurisdiction outside the Church of England.

Andrew’s account of the ANiE consecration by “a wonderful global array” of Archbishops and bishops is positive. He explains clearly and succinctly what many have found difficult to understand: the ecclesial structure of the new “proto-province”; the shared commitment to core theological essentials while allowing for diversity on secondary issues; the fact that “ANiE is not the conservative Reform movement reborn outside the Church of England, but a remarkably broad community.” He outlines some of the history behind the Network with its two convocations. He addresses issues of potential future conflict, but concludes that “missional urgency”, and the new movement’s obvious commitment to church growth especially through church planting, should be applauded and encouraged, rather than being ignored, belittled and attacked as is the default attitude of the Church of England hierarchy to Gafcon and ANiE.

Speaking as a clergyman who has left the Church of England and is now involved in a small AMiE church plant, I find it very encouraging that a respected Church of England insider like Andrew Atherstone should attend such an event (it was good to see him there!) and report on it so thoughtfully and positively. But I’d like to add more. There is nothing in Andrew’s article which is patronising, but there is a danger of this in how other evangelicals remaining in the Church of England view the new movement, unless other crucial aspects are mentioned.


Foremost of which, is to ask the question: why? Why has it been necessary to form ANiE and consecrate new bishops? Why were some Archbishops from overseas Provinces prepared to flout conventions and, as hinted by Atherstone, risk legal threats, to support a relatively tiny church movement? Why has it been necessary for some C of E, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church clergy to surrender their licences and walk out into an uncertain and insecure future, leaving salaries, pensions and buildings of a stable and secure institution for something embryonic and fragile?

The reason for the formation of ANiE is not just a desire to get on with mission that is evangelical in theology and unencumbered by traditional administrative structures. That can be done by Bishop’s Mission Orders within the C of E. The significance of the event on 21st October is not just that another Christian movement is showing progress – “let a thousand flowers bloom” and this is one of those flowers. Rather, these consecrations are the fruit of 15 years of reflection among orthodox Anglicans all over the world, that there is a theological crisis in the Western church that can’t be resolved by renewal initiatives or successful political engagements in the Synods of Canterbury-aligned provinces by evangelicals.

The problem is “the acceptance and promotion within the provinces of the Anglican Communion of a different ‘gospel’…which is contrary to the apostolic gospel.”[1] Debates about sexuality and marriage, and behind it, different interpretations of Scripture, are symptoms of a bigger problem, the widespread acceptance by the majority of institutional leaders in Western Anglicanism of a worldview which is at odds with the way orthodox Christians in the majority of the world think, and have thought down the ages.

In 2008 Gafcon was formed recognising that this serious problem could not be rectified by endless dialogue, based on a pretence that these fundamental differences are part of legitimate diversity; nor would it help merely to make statements of orthodoxy again and again with no change resulting. While behind the scenes power-plays and money are involved, much more seriously, the eternal spiritual destiny of millions is at stake. Action is required, and sadly this involves separation, a break in fellowship from those who are promoting a false gospel, and the formation of new structures within which biblically faithful Anglicanism can flourish.

But then again, why has this happened to the church? The theological differences are a direct result of the impact of secular philosophies on Western culture in the past 150 years. The idea, for example, that people with same sex attraction, or those who feel confused about their gender, are a class of oppressed victims, requiring liberation from the conservative heteronormative hegemony, and if the church participates in this project of “diversity and inclusion” it will be demonstrating the love of God – where does this idea come from? It is not the bible, which teaches something different, coherent and hopeful about sex, gender, and oppression and liberation. Rather it comes from the likes of Marx, Freud, Gramsci, Marcuse, Foucault and Zuckerberg! As the ruling elites of the West have sneeringly abandoned their Christian roots, and imbibed the ‘progressive’ worldview, so those church leaders wanting to appear relevant and sophisticated have imbibed it as well, and re-shaped their theology around it.

Some Anglicans in the West now feel that it is increasingly difficult to fulfil the calling to be a holy people, to be a clear witness to Christ, while continuing to be institutionally tied to, and under the authority of, such secularised church leaders. The Anglican Network in Europe with its two Convocations is a home for those who are coming to this conclusion.

So ANiE as a new mission movement is another positive vehicle for gospel ministry alongside those going on in the Church of England and other denominations. But it is more than this. It has emerged out of conflict between truth and error within the church; it has been formed out of a recognition that witness within a cultural environment that is not benign and fertile requires costly distinctiveness. The existence of this fellowship of mostly small churches is in itself a prophetic statement against the “hollow and deceptive philosophies” (Colossians 2:8) of the world and the principalities and powers behind them; a warning against compromise; a lifeboat when it’s clear the big ship is sinking.


[1] From ‘Being Faithful: The Shape of Historic Anglicanism Today – A Commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration’, Latimer Trust, 2009

Pray for rain

Posted by on Aug 10, 2022 in Editorial Blog | Comments Off on Pray for rain

Pray for rain

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

The English have always talked about the weather. Because of our geography, weather is often changeable. This gives an opportunity to engage in smalltalk on the basis of shared experience. perhaps this convention developed over centuries as a way of building community cohesion, overcoming bitter divisions of civil wars or conflicts around religion or class.

But now, talking about the weather can reveal and entrench new tribal standoffs. “Cor, it’s hot today” can now be interpreted not as a way of initiating friendly conversation with a neighbour or stranger, but as an opening gambit to a rant about climate change getting out of control. Or, on the other hand, it might be a perfectly innocent comment about the weather, but it’s a cue for the person on the other side of the political divide to take aim at woke orthodoxies. “Can’t handle the heat? Go and live in Norway – don’t force your left wing views on me!”

The hot weather, and worse, weeks of drought in southern England, have led to a steady increase in volume of those who say that the climate is at a tipping point, and something really must be done on a massive scale. We must all lend our voice to demand change in government policy towards radical action – relentless, and if necessary sacrificially expensive, focus on zero emissions. Christians are joining this call. It is “prophetic”; it is the gospel response to “the sharpest and deepest problem facing our world”.

In response to this, there are those on the other side who see any mention of climate change, any expression of concern about pollution or excessive energy use, any suggestion that home insulation, fewer flights, low emission cars and water conservation might be a good idea, as essentially part of an evil socialist agenda.


What should be the faithful Christian response? On one hand, we need to say clearly that virtue-signalling our uncritical alignment with the environmental agenda, and adding our voice to that of the myriad lobbyists calling for trillions of government investment in a new green economy, should not be confused with Christian mission and can sometimes obscure the gospel. This is because the “deepest and sharpest problem” facing humanity is not drought and floods, even if these are life threatening in many parts of the world; even if it can be proved that these are increasing because of careless human stewardship of the earth. Rather the most serious problem is alienation from the creator; the inward individual and corporate bias towards self and away from God, which the bible calls ‘sin’, and of which creation’s groanings are a sign. The worst problem we have is the threat to our eternal future. There may not be a ‘planet B’, but there is certainly a heaven and a hell.

On the other hand, we must also reject the view that stewardship of the planet has nothing to do with Christian discipleship, and that economic growth in my country at all costs, and defending my rights to ensure my own personal freedom and comforts, are somehow associated with biblical Christian faith because both are seen as ‘conservative’. If there is no rain and temperatures are getting higher, to dismiss concern about this is not godly, but a sign of immature urban detachment from the physical realities of life just as much as support for transgender ideology. Where is our food going to come from if there’s no rain?

The witness of the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans at the recent Lambeth Conference is an example of a wise approach to these issues. Many of them come from contexts of food insecurity, poverty and conflict. They said in their Conference-concluding Communique:

We know very well the growing inequalities of wealth, the impact of climate change, and the need for the administration of justice and authority for all without corruption or abuse.

In other words, they did not deny climate change – they see it in front of their eyes, as lakes dry up and pastures become sandy deserts. But this does not mean that their understanding of the gospel and Christian mission should change. The spiritual realities and evangelistic priorities remain the same. So they say:

We believe that the revealed Word of God is life-changing, enabling a person to be free and whole. We are also, therefore, duty-bound in love to our fellow human being to ‘hold fast to the word of life’ (Phil. 2;19) and to hold it forth to the world God loves. That is why we are calling the whole Communion to biblical faithfulness.

Another good source of wisdom is the Book of Common Prayer.  Cranmer put together a short list of ‘Prayers and Thanksgivings upon various occasions’, covering urgent needs as a nation. The first prayer on the list is for rain.

O God our heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all them that seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance; send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and to thy honour, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The prayer for rain comes before prayers for peace, or good health in time of pandemic, or good government. The first prayer of thanks, after the general thanksgiving, is for rain when it comes. There is also a prayer “in the time of dearth and famine”; perhaps what we would refer to today as recession and cost of living crisis.

Behold we beseech thee, the afflictions of our people, and grant that the scarcity and dearth, which we do now most justly suffer for our iniquity, may through thy goodness be mercifully turned into cheapness and plenty…

It’s a recognition that our very survival day to day is the gift of the creator; that he is good and loving and listens to our prayers. Most controversially, there may be a connection between our rebellion against God, our wrong thoughts and actions towards one another, and the disruption in the climate which causes drought and other shortages.

So, there is no rain and the land bakes. There is a need to bring biblical wisdom to bear on issues of climate science, politics and economics, and this may involve taking a side in a debate, so I’m not advocating pietistic withdrawal. But, rather than jump into one tribe or the other on the left or the right in posturing and argument, should we not as Christians first be taking a lead in humbling ourselves before the creator, repenting of our sin, and praying: “Lord send the rain”, physically and spiritually?

Possible outcomes after Lambeth 2022 – how should we pray?

Posted by on Aug 2, 2022 in 2-Important Posts, Editorial Blog, Lambeth Conference | Comments Off on Possible outcomes after Lambeth 2022 – how should we pray?

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

It’s a risk saying anything about this Lambeth Conference, because any “news” being reported will have almost certainly been reported somewhere else first, and comment on the latest development risks being out of date as soon as its posted. This is why we have compiled a selection of articles about Lambeth (perhaps the most comprehensive available on the web!) which is being added to daily, and is proving very popular.

But the amount of information and opinion can be overwhelming – so here is my brief summary so far:

Any hope for the peaceful and unifying conference envisioned by the planners was disrupted when the leaders of the Global South grouping (GSFA) made it clear before arriving that the question of shared commitment to bible-based orthodoxy should not be set to one side at the Conference. This strong and well-organised stand was perhaps unexpected, given that the Gafcon-aligned ‘conservative hard-liners’ of Africa were not coming. Perhaps partly as a result of this GSFA lobbying, the organisers introduced a reference to Lambeth Resolution I:10 (1998) into the section of the “Calls” document relating to ‘Human Dignity”.

The commitment to heterosexual marriage, and welcoming pastoral care for same sex attracted people agreed in 1998 was referred to as “the mind of the Communion”. An immediate, furious reaction from bishops in North America and other Western provinces led to a second version, which described different views and practices relating to Resolution I:10, and concluded: “As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.”

Following this, the GSFA said they would seek to bring Lambeth I:10 to the Conference for re-affirmation, and that they would not receive Holy Communion with bishops who openly deny the Resolution in actions and words. While Archbishops Welby, Cottrell and others sought to encourage the bishops to put aside the differences for the sake of addressing serious problems in the world, the GSFA said that a broken church, with leaders who are not walking together, cannot heal a broken world.

As I write, GSFA have agreed not to try to force a debate and vote on I:10 in plenary, but are organising an opportunity for delegate bishops to affirm the resolution online, in such a way that numbers and regions will be recorded but not names. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Canterbury has reiterated the sentiment of the second draft of the “Call” on human dignity: Resolution I:10 is still there and is affirmed by the majority; others have come to different conclusions in their beliefs and practices; let’s be united on the “great issues” (implying thereby that issues of sexuality, marriage and the doctrine of the human person are, in Justin Welby’s view, ‘adiaphora’).


It is worth asking at this point, what is the endgame? What do the various factions hope to achieve? What outcome should we pray for?

On opposite ends of the spectrum, there are those who would like their view, on marriage and sexuality, on Scripture, the nature of salvation and the mission of the church, to be adopted by the whole Anglican Communion. From the orthodox point of view, this means that a strong commitment to biblical orthodoxy, based on the foundations of Anglican doctrine, would be restored to the Communion. From the perspective of those whose understanding of Christian faith corresponds more to a progressive worldview, this means replacing Lambeth I:10 with an unambiguous commitment to the LGBT agenda: acceptance of same sex marriage and secular-gnostic-progressive readings of Scripture.  The problem  is that as in 1998 and the aftermath, positions are entrenched, and there is no mechanism for enforcing adherence to any resolutions.

Not long ago, the second of these options (ie, revisionist ‘victory’) seemed more likely in the Western provinces – it was assumed in many quarters that by now the ‘arc of history’ would have converted most people to ‘get with the programme’. Pressure from secular Western culture has made it increasingly difficult to change the revisionist trajectory of churches which are part of that culture. In fact one could argue that the Church of England’s commitment to “radical inclusion” has involved a current de facto rejection of Lambeth I:10 in many Dioceses, even if canons and liturgies have technically not changed.

But this Lambeth Conference has given hints of a new reality. The secular world is not as interested in what’s going on in the church as in the past. Where the church was previously seen as another institution to be brought under the heel of the progressive agenda, it’s now seen as irrelevant. Previously, LGBT activists outside the church would promise their support for those trying to bring about change. Now as the church isn’t even on the radar, especially for young people, changing its policies seem less important – although this theory will be tested in full if there is a major debate in general Synod next February.


In the middle, there are those wanting to hold the Communion together through negotiation and compromise.


The preferred position of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Conference organisers seems to be to attempt to sideline debates on sexuality and wider understandings of theology, to see them as evidence of legitimate diversity to be overcome through “good disagreement” or whatever the current term is. Focus should be on what unites Anglicans – belief in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, shared identity as baptised Christians, a sense of concern and responsibility for the local community around the parish and a hope for global social justice.

This is the default situation in the Communion for many Anglicans. It can be referred to positively as a way of ensuring continued mission through preserving peace, and there is no doubt that getting bishops from all over the world in the same room to discuss serious issues facing the world as described in the ‘Lambeth Calls’ can have a positive effect. But it could also be seen as a policy of inertia, indefinitely postponing decisions on core beliefs and vision, and encouraging manipulation and compromise.

Then there is an increasing number, particularly in the Church of England, both on the liberal and conservative sides, who see that attempts either to win full ideological control of the Communion or to promote a false peace by airbrushing out irreconcilable differences will result in endless conflict and lack of progress in mission. The best solution is negotiated, organised separation. In the US, Methodists have formed two discrete denominations, one aligned with the global majority which is more conservative, and the other taking a more progressive stance. Congregations can choose which one to join. Could this be a model for Anglicans?

A proposal gathering support in the Church of England is the creation of a new non-geographical jurisdiction within the denomination. In both cases, both sides can retain their theological integrity and remain in the same denomination, without the need for conflict over buildings and other resources, and a degree of cooperation on projects of mutual interest can continue. It is institutional unity with built-in degrees of separation based around theology. In this scenario the conservatives in the Church of England would be aligned with global south conservatism, would retain control over liturgy, training for ministry, selection of bishops etc, would be free to get on with evangelism, but would also keep advantages of buildings and finances. There are obvious practical obstacles to achieving this: those committed to “total victory” and “priority of unity” in the C of E would not agree, nor would a Parliament and other influential institutions committed to LGBT rights (certainly not at present). Also, while some parishes might unanimously vote to join the new entity, in the majority of congregations such a suggestion would create more conflict and division.


So far we have not mentioned another option based on an emerging reality: informal re-alignment, involving a process of separation between the orthodox and the revisionists which is not sanctioned by Lambeth/Canterbury, but authorised and validated by a new centre of Anglicanism in the Global South. Already, Provinces representing a large proportion of the global Communion are not at Lambeth. Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, with a significant group from Kenya, feel that over the past 20 years the call for return to orthodoxy has been consistently rebuffed in favour of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s “walking together despite disagreements” approach. The Gafcon Jerusalem Declaration states: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word and deed.” In provinces whose leaders have consistently “denied the orthodox faith”,  Gafcon Primates, while remaining part of the Anglican Communion have recognised new jurisdictions as authentically Anglican – such as ACNA, the Anglican Church of Brazil and the Anglican Network in Europe.


So how should we pray? Here are some key points:

  • Increasing unity between Gafcon and GSFA and within these groupings, based around shared commitment to the biblical gospel, despite some differences over strategy.
  • Stronger relationships between the orthodox in the global south (both Gafcon and GSFA) and biblically faithful Anglicans in the global north.
  • Greater respect and cooperation between orthodox in the global north remaining in the Canterbury-aligned structures, particularly in the Church of England, and those in the new jurisdictions.
  • Within the orthodox churches of the north, a developing posture of resistance-in-humility against false ideologies in church and culture, alongside evangelistic and pastoral zeal.
  • Growth in the new Anglican jurisdictions.
  • That leaders deceived by secular and gnostic counterfeits of Christianity, would repent and recover faith in apostolic teaching.


Our selection of articles (usually with two our three line summaries) from a wide variety of authors about the Lambeth Conference (perhaps the most comprehensive digest available on the web!) is being added to daily, and is proving very popular.


Persecution reveals a church’s true character

Posted by on Jul 28, 2022 in Bible, Editorial Blog, Mission, Persecuted church | Comments Off on Persecution reveals a church’s true character

Persecution reveals a church’s true character

By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream:

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”. Most of us have heard this applied to us as individuals, but it is also true of the church. The most important aspect of the Christian life and the church is not optics, but interior health.

The early church at Pentecost looked wonderful, with prayer, generosity, successful evangelism and respect in the community. But its character was yet to be tested. The book of Acts shows the early church coming under severe pressure. Its first test of character was the change in how they were viewed by the authorities, from 2.47 to 4:3.

This is very relevant to Christians in the West. 50 years ago, most MP’s, doctors, lawyers and head teachers would have professed at least a nominal Christian faith. The Church had power, influence and respectability. Now the effect of decades of secularism is that most people in power are either indifferent to faith, or hostile to it.

Other churches around the world have been on the margins for years, even centuries. But for us it’s a relatively new place to be. What will be revealed about the character of our church when it faces persecution?

Acts 4: the pressure, the response, the principles:

Acts 3 tells the story of a severely disabled man who was healed miraculously by God through Peter and John. Peter preached the gospel of Jesus to an enthusiastic crowd which gathered. The religious authorities were angry that the apostles were talking about Jesus, blaming them for his death, and that the new Christian movement was growing in number. But it was more than that. The preaching of the gospel was not just calling people to believe in something or someone in their personal lives. It was an announcement of the reality of God’s reign which would challenge all human systems. Peter was not saying: “you might find it helpful personally to believe in Jesus”, but “look what has happened! The healing of the paralysed man reveals the true nature of reality, and proves the inauguration of the rightful authority which you have been ignoring!”

The religious authorities tried to suppress the movement by arresting the leaders, interrogating them and beating them. Peter and John were not intimidated, but calmly refused to stop speaking about Jesus. However, this was a real threat to the new church. A conflict had been set up. The followers of Jesus were now enemies of the religious establishment, who only a few weeks before had successfully petitioned for the use of Roman power to put Jesus to death. This wasn’t just being unpopular – there was threat of imprisonment and possibly death.

The response of the church, and its underlying guiding principles, can be seen in Acts 4:23-31.

First, we see the whole church taking responsibility. Peter and John didn’t just get together with an inner circle of leaders to decide what to do. They reported to the whole church what had happened. There was an assumption that the church is the community of faithful people, a body, not a structure and its leadership which people attend as spectators.

Second, we see the church praying as a first response. Sadly, and I include myself here, this is not the natural reaction for many church leaders influenced by secularism. When faced with a crisis, especially opposition like this, the first response is too often to panic, alone. And then maybe to think about solving the problem – can we raise money? Can we go away to a safer place? Can we give in to the demands of those who are attacking us, to make peace? But that’s not what happened here. You don’t see a leader panicking alone and making plans. You see leaders telling the church about the problem, and then the church prays!

Third, we can learn a lot from the underlying assumptions behind the prayer. As they turn to God, they begin by recognising that he is the creator of all things, and he is in charge of the situation. It sounds obvious but it’s amazing how Christian leaders can doubt these basic facts. At the start of the Covid pandemic, a well-known theologian wrote articles published in major outlets like Time Magazine as well as Christian websites, saying that God laments with us in our suffering, but was not responsible for the pandemic and had no control over it. I think he wanted to dispel the caricature of an angry, cruel God “smiting” people – but in doing so he denied that God is in charge. But when in Acts the Christians prayed “sovereign Lord” that is the first thing they affirmed, even in the face of a major threat when doubts might come in about whether God can help us. For them, we can trust that God is in control of everything, because he made everything.

In their prayer they then turn to Scripture. In a few words they express what they believe about the bible, the ancient words written over hundreds of years which were part of their faith background. God spoke those words, by the Holy Spirit, through the human author.  Acts 4:25 is a wonderful, short clear summary of the doctrine of the authority and inspiration of Scripture. They select a (presumably memorised) text which is relevant to their need. We’ll come back to Psalm 2 later.

In their prayer they outlined the problem to God, not because he didn’t know their need, but for them to be clear in their own minds what the issue was that they were praying about.

  1. They were realistic. A common misconception among some Christians is that it’s negative to focus on the problem. But here, there is a recognition of dangerous opposition from human forces – Jewish leaders and Roman authorities – which on the face of it seems too strong. How can the church survive in the face of this?
  2. But in their analysis of the problem, they weren’t primarily concerned about threats to their own safety or to blocks on the growth of their organisation. They saw the opposition as a continuation of the terrible scandal of opposition to God and to his anointed Son Jesus. The world trying to block out Jesus instead of giving him glory was, and is, and outrage.
  3. They affirmed again that God is still in charge of the whole process – he had permitted even the crucifixion of Jesus as part of his plan.
  4. Then they brought their request. They did not pray: “Lord help us to be winsome and not get into trouble again”. Instead, they asked God to “consider their threats”. They drew attention to the persecution in an appeal for justice.
  5. Then they prayed for boldness in evangelism, and miracles in Jesus’ name.

Their prayers were based on their understanding of reality shown in Psalm 2.

The secular view is that this world is all there is. There is no spiritual realm. Human society faces problems which can be explained in human terms. Maybe it’s because of class struggle, the oppressor against the oppressed. Or maybe it’s because individuals and markets are not free enough, or taxes are not low enough! or because of ignorance, or mental health, or lack of science and technological solutions.

Here in Psalm 2 there is another explanation, a spiritual and moral one. The natural orientation of human beings is to rebel against God and his anointed Son and King Jesus, trying to throw off God’s authority and establish our own, whether as individuals or as small and large groups.

The Psalm makes it clear that God is not just the local God of Israel, but the God of the whole world. His plan is to establish Jesus as King among his people, from where his authority will extend throughout the world. “I will make the nations your inheritance”, says the Father to Jesus. The call to rebellious human beings is to turn their attitude around, to recognise God’s authority and serve him, to “kiss the Son” which means to worship Jesus.

If this is God’s ultimate vision, then it was clear to the apostles and the early church what their role was. They had just seen Jesus rise from the dead and ascend to heaven. Their role was to tell everyone about this, not in their own clever ability with communication or impressive credentials, but with God’s power that would be shown in miracles. So they prayed, simply, “God help us to do this”.

The choice for our church: compromise, pietism, or mission-in-persecution:

This “priority of evangelism” does not mean that Christians should ignore the cultural context in which they live, withdraw from the mandate to challenge false and harmful ideologies, work to change unjust structures, and offer practical relief to the suffering. It does not mean using ‘commitment to evangelism’ as an excuse to submit to and go along with lies and injustice in order to avoid persecution. It does not mean, for example, that a school with a Christian foundation should justify displays of a rainbow flag and other symbols of secular ‘progressive’ ideology, with the excuse that “evangelism” (redefined and narrowed down to a private message of personal salvation) is still taking place.

Rather it means responding to opposition by praying on the basis of what the bible teaches, asking for prayer to share the message of the cosmic Lordship of Jesus, with power, and doing it boldly. The best examples of this today are found in the global south where the church is facing severe persecution, especially in China, Iran and northern Nigeria. If the church in the West wants to move away from compromise or pietistic irrelevance, and more towards the model of the early church, it needs to learn humbly from the church in the south.

[This is an edited text of a sermon preached on 24th July in Oxford].

See also: How to Pray in Opposition – Acts 4: A Model Prayer for Facing Persecution, by Kees Van Kralingen, The Gospel Coalition