The Church Times has an article on reverberations to Bishop James Jones’ address last weekend on human sexuality, and includes a response it elicited from the bishop:
The Bishop’s comments were praised by the Revd Colin Coward of Changing Attitude, who said that the diocese of Liverpool had come to exemplify “how the process of listening to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can be encouraged and made to work”.
On the other hand, sharp criticism came from conservative Evangelicals, notably Anglican Mainstream, which declared his argument flawed, and accused him of “muddying the waters”. Its executive secretary, Canon Chris Sugden, said partnership with Liverpool’s vision would “constitute a serious challenge to the Church of Nigeria in particular, and the GAFCON Primates as a whole, who have, as a matter of principle, withdrawn from sharing ‘the same cup of salvation’ at Primates’ Meetings with those Primates who are sponsoring sexual immorality.
“It illustrates the subtle reality of the way that false teaching spreads: an Evangelical bishop who has learned to accommodate himself to the secular pressures of England none the less retains a certain credibility with fellow Evangelicals in Africa, and then seeks to present partnership as collusion with his compromise.”
Responding to the criticism, Bishop Jones said on Wednesday: “My address arose out of the experience of a dialogue between dioceses in Africa, America, and England. I believe that this experience of dialogue between Christians of different persuasions could be helpful to the Primates as they take responsibility for the future of the Communion.”
As it happens, a Communiqué from the Dialogue of African and Canadian Bishops was issued yesterday:
From February 24 to 26, the bishops of these dioceses met at the Anglican Communion Office, St. Andrew’s House in London, England. In a context grounded by common prayer and eucharistic celebration we reflected together on our local experiences of mission and the challenges facing the Church in our diverse contexts. Though the initial exchange of papers had been related in most cases to matters of human sexuality and homosexuality in particular, our face to face theological conversation necessarily deepened to explore the relationships between the Gospel and the many particular cultural realities in which the Church is called to mission.
Over these days, we met in plenary sessions and in our dialogue pairs. On Friday February 26 we met at Lambeth Palace, where we prayed together in the Crypt Chapel and met with the Rev’d Dr. Philip Groves, who spoke with us about the Continuing Indaba project of the Communion. We were honoured with a visit from the Archbishop of Canterbury who spoke of his hopes for the Continuing Indaba process and listened as we shared insights from our time of dialogue.
Anglican Mainstream has, this morning, posted an article Evangelicals Outraged by Bishop’s Comments first published in the conservative and unofficial Church of England Newspaper:
Dr Sugden said: “We are naturally disappointed when someone like Bishop Jones who gave such leadership in 2003, for various reasons, maybe personal, has changed his views.”
“Changed his views” or in Christian terms, “experienced a conversion.”