In the wake of the recent 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous note left on the doors of the Wittenberg cathedral, a group in the UK has posted notices on cathedral doors across England calling out the “corruption” of the Church of England.
It was first posted to the doors of St Paul’s and Southwark cathedrals in London on Tuesday night, and has since been attached to Hereford, Rochester, and Canterbury cathedrals. In typical English politeness the protestors used blue-tack and not actual nails.
The Martin Luther copycats posted copies of the Southwark Declaration and an additional statement penned anonymously but with sixty signatories.
The Southwark Declaration was written two years ago by a small number of conservative members of the Church of England from the south London diocese of Southwark. It consists of five affirmations;
We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. We affirm with Canon A5 that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.’’
We affirm, with Article XX, that ‘it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written.’
We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5), the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 (‘Of Holy Matrimony’) that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse. We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).
We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese, alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths, live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.
We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority only those who hold to these truths in good conscience.
The accompany letter reiterates complaints about a burgeoning acceptance of LGBT+ persons in the life of the church, accusing the Church of “revisionism”
“The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice on the ground has already changed: clergy are already adopting lifestyles which are not biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God.
This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across the Church of England. It is weakening and destroying the Church as it has done in the United States and Canada. When the Church redefines sin and eliminates repentance, it can no longer offer the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus; the Church no longer remains distinctly Christian.”
Additionally, it said that Bishops had “a narrow window” until the next General Synod in February, to “regain the confidence of Bible believing Anglicans” and avoid “rupturing” the Anglican Communion.
The Rev. Stephen Rae, Vicar of St James, Westgate-on-Sea admitted to posting the statement at the Canterbury Cathedral. Cathedral staff suggest that the statement was posted for the purposes of taking a photo for social media and immediately removed and that no one there saw it.
In a statement to media, Rae wrote:
“It is with great sadness that I posted the Southwark Declaration in Canterbury Cathedral. This building that stands sentinel over the Church of England has been a symbol of Anglican leadership with, perhaps, the greatest global reach for centuries. Now it has become synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty; it stands accused as a distracted and negligent parent that has abandoned its children,”
Quoting Ephesian, he continued “the faithful under-shepherd is to guard the flock against the wolves that would seek to enter the fold. Chillingly, there also would be those within who would ascend “speaking twisted things, to draw away disciples after them.”
Citing the ordination vows of the Church of England, he added, “We are not merely to assert biblical truth. We who have been entrusted with the precious gospel that speaks life into the hearts of wretched sinners are also called to drive away anything that would lead the flock away and into judgment.
God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance,” the vicar concluded. “If a leader of the church does this, he has misunderstood his calling. We are to hold out the radically inclusive gospel that leads to repentance and faith. Playing fast and loose with what God really meant when he said what he said never turns out well.”
The protest is being followed by the Twitter account @Turbulentparson.
image from @Turbulentparson.