In a focused piece analysing the last few days’ controversy, the Church Society’s Lee Gatiss has used his weekly “Topical Tuesday” column to set out strong criticism of Justin Welby’s letter to the Primates.
In particular he joins the rapidly growing chorus of those who are now demanding that the Archbishop of Canterbury stop seeking to equivocate between groups (or, more accurately, strongly criticising GAFCON and others) and stand up and be heard loudly and clearly in favour of orthodoxy in the area of human sexuality.
Furthermore, if Archbishop Welby, as he has told many of us face-to-face, actually holds to the traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality, why does he not stand up for it now and see its importance? The Bible speaks of disassociating from those who deceive us on issues of sexual conduct by trying to recalibrate our morality (Ephesians 5:3-7), of driving out those who are recalcitrantly immoral and leading others astray (1 Corinthians 5:9-13), and of denying the teaching of those who turn the grace of God into a license for immorality (Jude 4). There would be no need for any “cross-border interventions” if this were already being done. There is a place for orderliness, of course. But the Bible does not say anything about the evils of “cross-border interventions” undertaken to give pastoral care and support to the orthodox. Indeed, the apostle Paul left Titus in Crete with the express intention of amending what was defective in the church leadership of that place — that he might appoint godly bishops who would teach the truth and refute error, rather than those who were “empty talkers and deceivers” who should be rebuked and silenced from teaching (Titus 1:5-11).
More than that, Welby at times seems determined to further disenfranchise conservatives:
So we cannot agree to disagree on these issues, and simply get on with mission instead. This “broad church” ecclesiastical utilitarianism may seem peaceable; but it disregards the fact that these disagreements on sexuality and marriage reveal two different gospels are in play. Where there is no agreement on the gospel, can there be real cooperation in mission anyway? Yet Archbishop Welby’s policy seems to be to promote those who cause division by their teaching, only just recently asking the Primate of the Episcopal Church to begin his “Thy Kingdom Come” initiative (despite the way his denomination has persecuted orthodox believers over this issue), and giving an award to a prominent gay activist. Such actions speak louder than studiously ambiguous words about his preferred direction of travel.