Lambeth 2022: Two petitions, two very different positions on LGBT

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

A statement from Anglican bishops at Lambeth 2022 affirming the "holiness" of LGBT+ love "in committed relationships" is gathering signatures but the published list only serves to show just how marginal the Western revisionist agenda is in the Anglican Communion.

On the surface, the number of signatories looks substantial. So far just over 140 archbishops and bishops out of 650 at the Conference have signed the statement in which the signatories "recognise that many LGBT+ people have historically been wounded by the Church and particularly hurt by the events of the last few weeks".

"We wish to affirm the holiness of their love wherever it is found in committed relationships," they say.

But the overwhelming majority of the signatories come from the liberal Anglican Churches of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which includes Polynesia. Those Member Churches (Provinces) out of the 41 in the Anglican Communion are in decline numerically compared to the growing biblically orthodox Provinces of Africa and Asia.

There are two signatories from the Church of England, but Alan Wilson and David Hamid are both suffragan (or assistant) bishops.

The heads (primates) of the Anglican Churches in the US (Michael Curry), Scotland (Mark Strange), Wales (Andy Johns), Brazil (Naudal Alves Gomes) and Canada (Linda Nicholls) are the lead signatories. But Wales and Scotland have mustered fewer than 10 signatories between them because of the small number of Anglican bishops in those Provinces.

The Anglican Church in Brazil approved same-sex marriage in 2018. The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) also approved it in 2018, having allowed same-sex blessing services since 2012. Dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have been conducting same-sex blessings since a church in the Diocese of New Westminster, which includes Vancouver, hosted the world's first officially approved Anglican same-sex blessing service in 2003. But in 2019, Canada's General Synod refused to approve same-sex marriage.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has conducted same-sex marriages since 2017. The Anglican Church in New Zealand has allowed same-sex blessings since 2018 and the Anglican Church in Wales approved same-sex blessings last year.

The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) with around 270 orthodox bishops from 25 Provinces of the Anglican Communion launched a petition on Tuesday to reaffirm Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which the 1998 Conference passed affirming heterosexual marriage and rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.

The GSFA petition would get considerably more signatories if the bishops from Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria were present. Those Provinces have around 300 bishops between them but because the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby insisted on inviting bishops from the Provinces that bless homosexual relationships, they are boycotting Lambeth 2022.

The message preached by the liberal Western Anglicans leading churches in decline could essentially be summed up as "Jesus loves me because I am lovely, however I self-identify".

Their petition preamble states: "God is Love! This love revealed by Jesus, described in the Scriptures and proclaimed by the Church, is Good News for all - without exception. That is why we believe that LGBT+ people are a precious part of God's creation - for each of us is 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139:14), and all are equally loved."

There is nothing about penitence or repentance in this tawdry misrepresentation of the wonder of God's love for lost humanity.

The true biblical Gospel message proclaimed by the Anglican Reformers is much more exciting. I am, in the words of the General Confession of the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer, a "miserable offender". I need to call on the God and Father of Jesus Christ to "spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults" and to "restore thou them that are penitent, according to thy promises declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord".

In the words of the Prayer Book's Absolution I, together with my fellow penitents, need to ask God to grant me "true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord".

That is the glorious Gospel message the 16th Century Anglican martyrs – Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Bishop Nicholas Ridley (c1500-1555) and Bishop Hugh Latimer (c1485-1555) - went to the stake for.

Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist.