Pleased to be corrected by a theologian on Gafcon

Jul 10, 2018 by

by Julian Mann:

In the GAFCON 2018 aftermath, I am pleased to stand corrected by a biblically orthodox Anglican theologian doing his job – reflecting deeply on matters of truth and error and distilling his thoughts intelligibly.

Last week, I wrote a piece on VirtueOnline suggesting that it might be an idea for some two-thirds world GAFCON leaders to turn up at the planned 2020 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Communion bishops.

I thought they might be able to do what the Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul, did at Lambeth 2008 speak up prophetically for biblical orthodoxy on human sexuality.

But theologian Dr Martin Davie, who gave a seminar at the GAFCON 2018 Assembly, disagrees. He argues that every GAFCON leader should support the Letter to the Churches resulting from this year’s Assembly.  This statement presented the Archbishop of Canterbury with the GAFCON bishops’ conditions for Lambeth 2020 attendance.

The Letter to the Churches stipulated that Justin Welby should not invite bishops from Anglican Churches, such as those in in the US and Canada, that have voted to conduct same-sex weddings but that he should invite bishops from new orthodox Anglican Churches in North America and Brazil which have formed because of such revisionist departures from biblical standards.

Dr Davie argues that if he chose the Archbishop of Canterbury could fulfil these conditions because it is up to him whom he invites to Lambeth. If he chose to ignore GAFCON’s conditions and some GAFCON bishops did turn up at Lambeth 2020, they would, Dr Davie argues, be contributing to the disorder on the loose in the Anglican Communion because of false teaching, even though they are orthodox themselves:

“The continuing attendance of orthodox Anglicans at meetings (like the Lambeth Conference) has been used by the powers that be in the Communion over the past twenty years to suggest that divisions over marriage and sexuality are not that important. Anglicans, it has been said, can learn to live with divisions over these matters while continuing to ‘walk together’ and while the other business of the Communion continues as normal. However, marriage and sexual conduct are primary rather than secondary issues because they are integrally bound up with creation and redemption and effect peoples’ eternal destinies. They are therefore not ‘matters indifferent’ on which Anglicans can disagree while conducting business as usual.”

I find this argument persuasive and think now that if a GAFCON leader did turn up at Lambeth and attempt to do a Daniel Deng Bul, it would be a futile gesture. GAFCON had only just started in 2008; ten years later it is now an established international movement for Anglican renewal for the sake of which it needs to demonstrate a united front in the teeth of the escalating challenge from cultural Marxism in the Church and in the world.

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK –


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