One vote kept The Anglican Church of Canada’s synod from opening the door to same sex marriage on Monday, July 11. I wanted to take heart at this outcome - any time a church beats back heresy, Christians should rejoice. We should be glad that the shepherds were able to chase the wolf away, but I couldn’t rejoice at this victory. That’s because I knew the wolf would come right back.
Within hours of the resolutions’ defeat, Bishop Michael Bird of Niagara and Bishop John Chapman of Ottawa each announced on July 12 that their dioceses would go ahead and solemnize same-sex marriages despite the Synod’s vote. According to the Episcopal News Service, the bishops were ready with their statements just in case the Canadian Synod voted against same-sex marriage.
A few hours later, the synod voted for a recount where it was discovered the resolution actually PASSED by one vote. There will probably be a lot written about this so I want to focus on just a few things.
The Walls of Orthodoxy
The reality is that the Anglican Church of Canada wasn’t saved by Monday’s narrow victory and then suddenly lost by Tuesday’s betrayal of the rules. The Church of Canada was lost over a period of years. It’s walls of orthodox teaching and practice that protected the sheep crumbled slowly but deliberately. The Dioceses of Niagara and Ottawa have been embracing un-biblical teaching for years and it’s been no secret. Thankfully, many orthodox left the Canadian church and found safer homes, primarily the Anglican Network in Canada and Anglican Church in North America.
Rules were made to be...
Another point I’d like to bring out is the lunacy of trusting in church polity or rules of order for the protection of orthodoxy. We’ve seen it in practice for over a decade and the Diocese of Niagara and Ottawa proved it again yesterday: Satan doesn’t play by any rules. The deceiver doesn’t care about two-third majorities. Make no mistake, the evil one himself is ultimately behind the push for same-sex marriage within the church. If the hearts of those within the church, especially those in positions of leadership, are not controlled by Christ, then it makes no difference what the rules are. The Prince of Darkness will sneak in the shadows and get around them.
Lessons for the Church of England
At the same time as the Church of Canada’s synod, the Church of England’s General Synod was meeting. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has managed to get most in the Synod to participate in “shared conversations” over sexuality. He also managed to get them to uphold a media blackout and keep the two days of conversations behind closed doors. At today’s conclusion, the Synod released a statement:
“It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.”
If you are a born-again believer in the Church of England take note of what is happening in the Anglican Church of Canada. The orthodox that remain defeated the push for same-sex marriage and it didn’t matter. “But it was a narrow defeat and we have much better numbers in our favor in the Church of England,” you might say. If the measure had failed in all three orders of synod, do you really think that would have stopped the Bishops of Niagara and Ottawa? Rules don’t change hearts. “But we’ve learned how to have ‘good disagreement’ in the Church of England and we have much better relationships across theological lines.” In The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Canadian Church, for those who uphold the scriptures, good disagreement means you lose but at least you don’t have to like it.
Here at the American Anglican Council we try to keep people informed and involved in the Anglican Realignment. What challenges does the Anglican portion of the Body of Christ face? What steps must we take to go forward? To do that we must have an idea of what the enemy is up to. There’s no doubt the enemy has his sights set on the Church of England but doesn’t want us to know it. He’d much rather we think he’s not there or is uninterested. As we move forward in the realignment of Anglicanism around Biblical Christianity, I pray we are as innocent as doves but shrewd as serpents because there are wolves in the area. (Matthew 10:16)
Robert Lundy is Communications Director of the American Anglican Council.