The Church of England Evangelical Council has written to members about how it is responding to multiple developments in the church’s debates about sexuality and ecclesiology:
The February letter was sent immediately after the House of Bishops report (GS2055) was published. It described how the Officers were “heartened to read that the House of Bishops is proposing no change to the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relations and that no liturgical prayers for same sex relationships, authorised or commended, should be produced”. Much work was done by evangelical bishops to secure this outcome and we are grateful for that and that this remains the Church’s official position.
We cannot, however, ignore the fact that since then this position has been under constant and serious attack. There have been several disappointing developments leading to widening and deepening concerns among evangelicals:
- A small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod,
- The Archbishops’ letter following this vote left many unclear as to what was meant by “radical Christian inclusion” and has led to many believing there has been not only a change in tone but a change in direction,
- A number of bishops have openly signalled their support for changes in teaching and/or practice and the Bishop of Liverpool became a Patron of Liverpool Pride,
- Behaviour and decisions at the July General Synod, including the rejection of good amendments tabled by evangelicals to the motions on conversion therapy and welcoming transgender people, have further heightened concerns,
- The Scottish Episcopal Church has changed its marriage canon and now permits its clergy to preside at same-sex marriages.
Alongside these it is important to note a number of recent developments which have brought encouragement to many evangelicals around the country. These include the consecration of Andy Lines (who represents Crosslinks on CEEC) as a missionary bishop of ACNA, supported by GAFCON and many Global South Primates; the planned involvement of many evangelicals in the groups working on the House of Bishops Teaching Document, overseen by Bishop Christopher Cocksworth; and the call for a renewed orthodox Anglicanism gaining signatures online.
In the midst of this CEEC continues to endorse the theology of human sexuality and biblical authority offered in ‘Guarding the Deposit’ (GTD). We are also clear as a Council that these matters are not able to be treated as adiaphora but are of prime importance. We would encourage you to read and raise awareness of GTD (both the full text and a helpful two-page summary are on our website).
Read the rest on Thinking Anglicans.