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Head of Gafcon: Church of England increases risk of spread of “neo-paganism”

Head of Gafcon: Church of England increases risk of spread of “neo-paganism”

In his March 7th letter, the head of Gafcon, Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria, warns that the Church of England has increased the risk that sexual “neo-paganism” will spread throughout the Anglican Communion. Although the Communion owes much to the Church of England, he says, it is now “Gafcon [that] exists to provide a new vision of vibrant biblical partnership in mission for the Anglican Communion as a whole. No faithful Anglicans will be left behind or abandoned.”

From his letter:

As I remarked in my last letter, because of our shared history events in the Church of England have a special significance for the whole Anglican Communion. So this month I must comment on the vote by General Synod on 15th February not to ‘take note’ of the House of Bishops report on marriage and sexuality.

A refusal to ‘take note’ is very unusual. Such a motion is usually just a formality preceding further debate. In this case, people on both sides of the argument about sexuality perceived that the report tried to face two ways. Thankfully, it recommended that there should be no change to the doctrine of marriage, but it held out the possibility that could change in the future and that for the present, in line with present practice, there should be ‘maximum freedom’ pastorally within the existing legal framework.

Following this rebuke to the House of Bishops, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a letter which seems to entrench the contradiction. They call for ‘a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church’ which not only draws on the traditional sources of Anglican authority, but also on what they describe as a ‘21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.’

But the inclusion the gospel offers has always been radical. All are included in fallen human nature and yet all may be included in the Kingdom of God through repentance and faith in Christ crucified. While we are included in the Kingdom solely through God’s grace, this is not cheap grace and there is a great gulf between the morality of the Bible and the neo-pagan sexual morality that is now dominant in the West. We need to be as clear today as the apostles were to the churches of the New Testament that new life in Christ means a radical break with the practices and lifestyle of the world.

However, some Bishops have been quick to seize the initiative with their own interpretation of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’. For example the Bishop of Manchester has called for ‘much more than the maximum freedom’ recommended by the House of Bishops report while the Bishop of Selby (a suffragan of York Diocese) has claimed The majority view of the Synod therefore is that we need to explore a more creative way ahead for faithful human relationships rather than remaining where we are”.

The effect of the vote in General Synod depends upon how it is interpreted. It could have been an opportunity to reaffirm apostolic teaching on marriage and sexuality, but the Archbishops’ talk of radical inclusion and a 21st century understanding has given great encouragement to those who want to bring the Church of England into line with the values of secular society.

The result is that the historic and biblical mind of the Church, as expressed by the bishops of the Anglican Communion in Lambeth Resolution I.10 of 1998, has now been downgraded to something provisional and secondary. We owe much to the Christians in Great Britain and not least the Church of England, so it is very distressing to see such confusion which is now at greater risk of being spread through the rest of the Communion.

Yet there is still hope. As Gafcon UK have already commented, ‘The confusion created by the General Synod vote on 15th February makes it abundantly clear that a new vision is now needed of what Anglican Christianity in England can and should be.’ Gafcon exists to provide a new vision of vibrant biblical partnership in mission for the Anglican Communion as a whole. No faithful Anglicans will be left behind or abandoned.

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Sean Storm

I wonder what would happen if Nigeria and the CoE just stopped about the whole issue altogether. If they concentrated more of their energies towards many of the other issues facing the Church these days. I personally and not in favor of LGBT issues, but that’s just me. But I also say, leave bygones alone, welcome everyone under Christ’s church walls, cause no sin or harm to anyone who seeks the Lord. Include them and accept them in all manners pf Church life. We do not have to like what they do, but we are ordered by the Lord to love them.

JC Fisher

I’m having difficulty, Sean, in squaring your “love” for me (queer person), w/ your “stop the whole issue” and “not liking what I do”.

As a Child of God, Made in God’s Image, Redeemed by Christ—I claim my equality in the Church. Nothing more, and nothing less. As I have achieved this (in the Episcopal Church—pretty much!), I am content to “stop this issue”. But I expect (and support) my LGBT brothers & sisters throughout the Anglican Communion to not stop until THEY achieve equality in Christ, also. This is what Archbishop Okoh is trying to stop. Where shall we stand—in your professed “love”, where shall you? That is the question.

Anne Bay

Archbishop Okoh is obsessed with making his own ideas (along with the other GAFCON members) to be mandated as part of the Church of England, and it sounds like all Anglicans no matter what part of the world they reside in!! Whoa!! Instead of getting himself all worked up over the C. of E. stand on the issue of same -sex marriage and the inclusion of the LGBT Community in the church, he would do better to get some education for himself by someone trained in the field of LGBT and related studies. For that matter, it seems Nigeria cold use some education also. I’m sure there are some fine universities in London that could be of help to the Archbishop. I read a lot of current material on Nigeria and it is a horrific place to live with regards to the persecution of the LGBT community. The laws are unbelieveable for a country to have in 2017 against the LGBT persons. I invite everyone to read that material. It’s available online. Nigeria is a very dangerous and quite frankly totally unchristian place to live for these persons. A sad situation and it’s getting tiresome to have Nigeria keep trying to turn the clock back to the type of persecutions that were prevalent under Hitler in World War Two. It would be advantageous for the rest of the Anglican communion to tell Nigeria and the church in Nigeria and Archbishop okoh they are endangering thousands of lives by their ignorance and bigotry. If the Archbishop is smart enough to get through a seminary, he’s smart enough to get some understanding of the LGBT Community. Lives are at stake. The day of using the church to discriminate and persecute those you don’t understand needs to stop.

Philip B. Spivey

GAFCON personifies the Anglican “populist” movement of the 21st century. There’s nothing new and radical here; we’ve seen authoritarian Church leaders before.

John Humphries

One would think that the problems facing all the people in Nigeria would occupy his time and energy.

Bob Button

Cerile you are absolutely correct.

I am so done with being lectured by someone speaking out of arrogance and ignorance. No time to critique “the West’s” treatment of the poor, harm to the environment, or other completely suitable topics for criticism. Just more strange obsession with sex – dumbing down the Gospel in the process and driving thoughtful, educated people of goodwill away from our Church.

Bob Button

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