Evangelicals Must Stick With Church Despite 'False Teaching' On Gay Marriage, Says Bishop

The conservative evangelical bishop Rod Thomas is urging evangelicals to 'stand firm' in the Church of England despite 'false teaching' on gay marriage.

The Bishop of Maidstone and former chair of Reform, a traditionalist grouping, urged evangelicals to 'stick by the ship' despite hints of a shift in attitudes towards gay relationships.

Rod Thomas was appointed Bishop of Maidstone in 2015 to oversee conservative evangelical parishes opposed to women bishopsSt Matthew's Church Elburton

'In the face of false teaching, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy both to keep his distance from it but also to continue in patient teaching,' Bishop Thomas writes. 'He recognises that this may involve suffering.'

The 'floating' bishop, whose position was installed to appease conservatives, offers oversight to those parishes who refuse to recognise female ordination but find themselves under a woman bishop.

Thomas admits a number of his fellow bishops are calling for the Church to be more affirming of same-sex relationships but says evangelicals 'are on a different trajectory'.

He writes: 'The time may be on us where individual congregations and parishes have to take fresh steps to show that they are not following the trajectory of others.

'This may well involve them in difficult decisions, unpopular actions and awkward situations.'

But he urged conservative parishes in general not to abandon the CofE.

'The doctrinal foundations of the Church of England are worth protecting,' he writes.

'If we are clergy, we need to remember that when the Apostle Paul warned of false teachers, he didn't urge the Ephesian elders to run away in order to avoid attack, but instead said 'guard the flock'.

'So we need to stand firm – continuing to teach and do the work of evangelism, continuing to turn up at Synods in order to contend for the gospel, continuing to encourage one another by meeting together, and continuing to support those who run into difficulty.'

Quoting a 19th century essay by theologian and bishop J C Ryle he concluded: 'Let us not desert our post to save trouble, and move out to please our adversaries ... The good ship of the Church of England may have some rotten planks about her. The crew may, many of them, be useless and mutinous, and not trustworthy. But there are still some faithful ones among them. There is still hope for the good old craft. The Great Pilot has not yet left her. Let us therefore stick by the ship.'