The following has been distributed this morning to sympathetic parishes in Southwark Diocese and beyond for affirmation. Southwark has been gripped in a growing standoff between the bishop and his evangelical parishes who are increasingly disenchanted with his unwillingness to uphold Biblical and canonical standards, particularly in the area of human sexuality.
The Southwark Declaration
As clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Southwark:
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.
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Do you have a feel yet for how they plan to use this document? Is it just to put pressure on the Bishop to stop appointing people who violate this statement or is it a first step to organising a group who might look for episcopal oversight outside the formal Diocesan structures? Statements can be useful for clarifying people’s positions, but it’s the step after that is critical – break away (ACNA), arms length remnant within the organisation (GAFCON), faithful group trying to change from within (South Carolina before departure) or something else?
I’m not sure Andrew. I assume this is intended to place some pressure on the bishop (and I would guess there is a private discussion going on there in parallel with him). After that, and especially if there is no movement …. well who knows?
Movement on what? It isn’t clear to me what the signatories of this or the private letter actually want the bishop to do. Do you have any insight from your conversations?
Well what would you want the bishop to do, mouse,given that he is so very clearly promoting a revisionist agenda and flouting the church’s position on human sexuality?
It’s clearly been ignored : the DDO just had her lesbian relationship celebrated in the cathedral followed by in effect a wedding reception. Clergy outraged.
Praying for wisdom and discernment for these churches committed to the Word. May the Lord bless your proper handling of His Word.
With all the carry on in the church be it homosexual marriage or women bishops etc surrounding you like a dark serpent, how refreshing and uplifting to read this declaration.
It gives you hope knowing there are many likeminded still flying the flag of truth.
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The truly astounding thing is that there are CofE clergy who won’t sign this very basic, dare I say fundamental, statement of what the CofE has taught for centuries about human sexuality. But then, it’s rather clever of them to issue this simple statement that is a low bar to clear.
‘…what the CofE has taught for centuries about human sexuality.’ The church is called by God to minister to a world which has and is changing. Sexuality is just one of many areas where we are called upon to apply God’s word to a different context. The result of that theological engagement under the Spirit’s guidance may mean a different response to ‘what the CofE has taught for centuries’!
Unless l have the wrong end of the stick l think this argument is wrong. God is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow. Are we saying that God was not capable of writing scripture correctly to suit all times? I certainly am not, and certainly trust scriptures rules and guidance for eternity. If we say different, should we revise the Ten Commandments for instance …….they’re pretty old. Personally l cannot fault the good grounding of the Southwark Declaration which gives me hope as we fight against the blind and delusional that have infiltrated the church.
Don’t give me the “Spirits Guidance may mean a different response”. As far as l am concerned the Holy Spirit has and always gets it right first time. The problem we have is people listening to and being guided by other spirits.
I am aghast that this could even be suggested. There are Christians in jail and being killed and persecuted for their rock solid faith. How dare we even suggest such a thing.
We dare because there are Christians being persecuted and threatened with loss of their families and vocations and livelihoods for their rock solid faith that God created gay people in His image and likeness and that there can be more than one context for a loving and sacramental relationship.
Are you under the mistaken impression that those Christians don’t also believe in the same things as the Christians who in some countries are imprisoned for their beliefs?
Beth, thanks for coming and commenting. I’m a little confused as to what your argument here is.
I recognise that there are some countries in the world where homosexual people (including some who identify as Christian) are punished for homosexual activity. Along with many others I find the dramatically harsh penal responses utterly repugnant.
But I think you go some way to arguing that the unfairness of such “persecution” (as you put it) somehow is tied to the moral/doctrinal validity of the behaviour being “persecuted”. I don’t think that link neessarily follows. It is, however, an emotive piece of rhetoric.
As for what those who claim to be Christian actually believe, I would make some observations:
1. One can claim to be a Christian, and genuinely trust the Lord Jesus Christ and be tremendously mistaken about many things.
2. Nevertheles the Scriptures make it clear that certain unrepentant behaviours exclude people from the Kingdom of God, thus demonstrating what their allegiances really are.
3. The revision of sexual ethics is still a very Western thing, and is a clearly minority movement worldwide in the church. In the West the exegetical arguments have be found lacking, demonstrating in the main some pretty bizarre exegetical gymnastics.
4. I think that Scriptures are clear that a refusal to behave in a godly way with regard to sexuality is tantamount to an outright rejection of Jesus.
5. I also note that those who most vigorously promote a revision in sexual (and other) ethics are those who are most open to and who do the most to promote heterodoxy in a whole range of areas.
Given all of the above (for starters) there are a good number of us who remain unpersuaded that the current push to revisionism is of the Spirit, or good for the church in any way. Do they believe the same things as Christians who are simply persecuted for their trust in Jesus? I think it’s clear that often they don’t.
Actually, I refer to the fact that gay clergy are told that they have to give up their families or else lose their jobs and their homes and their vocations merely because they are gay; and to the fact that gay Christians are told that they should leave the Church; and to the fact that, for example, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who isn’t gay but merely had the nerve to behave decently towards those of us who are, was defrocked by the Church of Uganda and lived under threat of assassination.
These are good and godly people who do trust in Jesus and do read the scriptures and are Christians, and who would not by virtue of their sexuality be exempt from the persecution that occurs in some countries towards Christian evangelists. As you say, people are persecuted simply for their trust in Jesus. Do you think that being gay means that they don’t get persecuted for trusting in Jesus? That was actually the point I was making to Nigel.
You and I obviously disagree on our reading of the scriptures and of Jesus and our understanding of what sexual immorality actually means, and I’m actually okay with that. However, I do note that I’ve never told a straight person that they aren’t really a Christian or that they’re going to Hell.
hi Beth. Again I’m not sure I recognise your narrative. Everyone has the right to believe what they like and promote what they like. But one can’t expect to promote a belief and lifestyle contrary to the official position of the organisation that pays your stipend and then complain when there are issues.
The official position of the Church of England, consistent with the almost unanimous position of the wider Christian church over almost 2000 years is that homosexual activity is inconsistent with the gospel. So nobody is being “persecuted” or “threatened” if they wish to take a stipend promoting that gospel and yet openly live and teach in a manner inconsistent with that gospel.
Again, they can believe what they want, but if they want to take a paycheque from the Church of England it is entirely disingenuous to complain of “persecution” when one opposes the position of the Church of England. If the marketing director for Coke consistently argued that Pepsi was the better cola product then could they complain of persecution and “threats” if Coke thought that was out of order. They’re free to argue for Pepsi, they’re not free to take a salary from Coke. At least they’re not free to do so with any claim to integrity.
Besides there are plenty of people who recognise their homosexual attraction and are quite happy with the 2,000 year position of the church.
As for wider maltreatment, I’ve already made clear that I think there is lots that goes on that is unacceptable and am on the record as speaking out against it. But none of that undermines the church’s/Bible’s position.
As for telling people they are “going to hell”, I simply direct you to the church’s consistent reading of the Scriptures of almost 2000 years. If I think anybody is in danger the only loving thing to do is warn them and implore them to be rescued.
Is he? How so? I haven’t seen any allegations that he has said or done anything which contradicts the Canons, doctrine or teaching of the church.
Well except for compromise consistently appointing those whose life and teaching is in violation of the church’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Of course,if you set those aside then you’re right – nothing to see here.
*I assume* those clergy have followed the due process, live their lives in celibacy and have made such undertakings to their bishop. If so, they are following the rules as they stand. I’ve not heard any allegations to the contrary.
I see. And so you doubt the assessment of these many many clergy and laity who are in the diocese and much closer to everything?
Which brings us back to my question! What is their assessment? Are they alleging a breach of these rules? If so, they haven’t made this publicly. I’m not trying to pick an argument – just can’t see what the allegation is, or what remedy is being asked for.
It’s all in the declaration. You do begin to come across as being a little disingenuous.
I asked a perfectly sensible, polite and non-leading question. I still don’t know what specific actions the signatories actually want.
I’m really not convinced you’re that naive, mouse. The declaration is clear and the specific context is well understood