Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, formerly resident in Nigeria, is the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office. The Anglican Communion News Service has published a number of pieces in recent days clearly seeking to undermine the momentum that the GAFCON movement is gaining in the lead up to last week’s successful conference here in Jerusalem. Under Fearon’s guidance piece after piece has been published with the clear agenda of promoting full attendance at the upcoming 2020 Lambeth Conference despite ongoing division over a number of Provinces departing from clear Biblical teaching.
The recent GAFCON Letter to the Churches urges a different position.
In light of the recommendations of the Synodical Council, we respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury
- to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
- not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.
In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion.
This is a position that the ACO, lead by Fearon, is obviously seeking to argue against. We are consistently told by them that false teaching on matters of human sexuality is not enough to stop us from continuing to talk one to another. Good Disagreement is the watchword and so attendance at Lambeth is urged upon us.
But Archbishop Fearon wasn’t always so positive about attendance at Lambeth. In 2006 davidould.net interviewed Archbishop Fearon during a visit to Sydney. The full transcript of that interview is still available on this website. Of particular interest are the following exchanges (DO = David Ould, BJ = (then) Bishop Josiah), MC = a reporter for Southern Cross magazine:
BJ When Christian leaders say something like, “Resurrection Jesus, he didnt rise, its an idea”, Muslims find that very difficult and we say “there is no Resurrection, there is no Christianity”. Muslims now say, “hey! Where did you get your Christianity from? Look at those who actually brought the faith to you!” So when Christian leaders begin to deny the essentials of the Faith, they say, “Jesus wasnt really God or He didnt die on the Cross” these are the kind of things that we find in the Quran! So Christian leaders make statements to affirm what is in the Quran, they make evangelism very difficult for us. Number two: you see in the area of morality. This is where I am a little bit uncomfortable with the West (we have problems in Africa we will talk about this eventually), something like same-sex; the Quran condemns it. There are about 14 passages in the Quran that talk about homosexuality or lesbianism; simply, God does not like it. It comes under what they call haran: something God hates and the punishment is with God the Quran doesn’t tell us what the punishment is. Anything under haran a Muslim is expected not to do it. Now you have Christians who say “I am homosexual and I want to live this way and I want to promote it” – this is where we have problems.
MC For example, Gene Robinson.
BJ Yes. You see that for us is a big, big problem. Why is it a problem? The Bible, the way that we understand it, is very clear: adultery, fornication, lying they are all together termed as sinful. Now when you begin to flag something the Bible says is sinful it works against it. So now we have no gospel! What do you want to preach?!
DO If things stay as they are and Lambeth 98 comes along and lets say Robinson and Jefferts-Schori are invited do you feel able to take seats at that conference?
BJ No. No we dont. We’ve made our position very clear.
DO So what will happen?
BJ We don’t know, but as far as the Anglican Church in Nigeria is concerned the decision is that we are not going. It’s just not right! Unless there is an agreement… Windsor is the bottom line but these guys are not accepting Windsor so we feel there is nothing to discuss, there is nothing to discuss.
Fearon’s position (read it all in context) was quite clear. Those rejecting the Biblical traditional position on human sexuality have no gospel and nothing left to preach and therefore attendance at Lambeth for those upholding Biblical truth is just not right and there is nothing to discuss.
So what changed?