Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
While the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Letter of August 2nd regarding Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) seems to reaffirm it, he does quite the opposite. It is what the Archbishop of Canterbury does not say, or what he implies, that we must pay attention to.
He says, “I write therefore to affirm that the validity of the resolution passed at the Lambeth Conference 1998, 1.10, is not in doubt and the whole resolution is still in existence.” This is a very careful and curious statement about a Resolution of a Lambeth Conference of Bishops. Apparently, the Archbishop of Canterbury did not personally affirm Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the Global South Bishops asked him to do. Otherwise, he would have affirmed the statements in Lambeth 1.10 that state that “homosexual practice in incompatible with scripture,” “cannot advise the legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions,” and that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman for life, with abstinence in all other cases.
Instead, the Archbishop “affirms the validity of the resolution.” This no more than saying, “Yes, the 1998 Lambeth Conference did produce Resolution 1.10, and it really did say these things about the authority of Scripture and human sexuality. Yes, the resolution as we know it is valid.” But what he did not say is that Lambeth 1.10 is authoritative, or that it should be followed by all Anglicans. He does not say that it reflects the Biblical teaching of the Anglican Communion. He just acknowledges that it really existed and, in that sense, is ‘valid.’ In the press conference that followed, Archbishop Thabo was asked what the Archbishop’s “affirmation of the validity” of Lambeth 1.10 means. He said, with refreshing candor, “It means that it has not yet been rescinded.” That is all!
Archbishop Welby says that the majority of Anglicans follow Lambeth Resolution 1.10, but that a minority of Provinces in the Anglican Communion approve same sex marriage. This means that we have to accept that the opposing views of human sexuality have an equal claim on truth. In fact, by even describing the opposing views as a “plurality” of views, he is giving each position equal weight, equal authority, and equal validity. This is nothing less than a capitulation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the idea of “pluriform truth”—namely, that mutually exclusive “truths” or “points of view” may be held by the Church. Not only does this violate the law of non-contradiction, but it is also in utter contrast to the Ecumenical Councils of the Church that affirmed biblical truth and corrected its contradiction (heresy).
For the first time, the Archbishop of Canterbury has formally acknowledged as a legitimate position within the Anglican Communion that churches may approve same-sex unions and marriage. It is not therefore surprising that the Presiding Bishop of TEC seized upon this fact as a cause for hope that one day the whole Communion will approve same-sex unions/marriages and other practices [https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2022/08/03/message-from-presiding-bishop-michael-curry-on-lambeth-call-on-human-dignity/] that fly in the face of the plain and canonical reading of scripture.
Although Archbishop Welby states this is a minority position, he also states that this minority position is the result of “careful theological reflection and a process of reflection.” He is insinuating that those Anglican Churches that uphold the historic teaching of the Scriptures are ignorant of the latest “scholarship” and, therefore, have not done “careful theological reflection.” This statement is very condescending to those in GAFCON and Global South who uphold the clarity and authority of the Scriptures and who uphold the Bible’s teaching over thousands of years. It should also be noted that the “process of reception” he commends resulted in many clergy and churches in TEC (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada leaving and forming the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). They refused to “receive” the heresy and were forced out of the Church by unlawful depositions and $60 million (estimated to date) litigation by TEC against departing congregations. How can this terrible and costly upheaval commend itself to the Archbishop?
Ultimately, knowing other things the Archbishop has said in the past (including his speech in 2013 to the House of Lords where he said, “I strongly support adding a new and valued institution alongside marriage for same gendered relationships.”), the resources he commends, and the people he has appointed to key positions, one Anglican leader in the Gafcon/Global South has wisely observed:
“We can summarize the Archbishop of Canterbury’s position in this way. Those who engage in same-sex sexual relations are full members of the Body of Christ and their behaviour should not be called sin. As ‘full members of the Body of Christ,’ they are able to receive all the sacraments and sacramental rites of the church, including marriage and ordination (contrary to Lambeth 1.10). Furthermore, we can re-interpret the Bible to support this conclusion if we follow modern methods of deconstructing the plain and canonical reading of the Biblical text. We have an Anglican Communion Commission called ‘The Bible in the Life of the Church’ that we established communion wide at ACC-15 (Auckland, NZ). This Commission has been working on explaining how Western Anglicans have progressed in being able to reinterpret the plain meaning of Scripture to support causes and issues that the plain meaning of Scripture clearly forbids. This Commission even includes some Global South scholars who have accepted such Western scholarly contradictions, and we will use them to promote our revisionist approach to interpreting the Bible so other Global South Anglicans will finally surrender their backward, entrenched understanding of the Bible and agree to the modern interpretation.”
Archbishop Welby says, “I am the focus of unity and therefore I cannot and will not ever sanction or discipline another Church within the Anglican Communion.” His approach is to let the official teaching of the Anglican Communion as it is stated in Lambeth Resolution 1.10 to stand but allow contrary practice on the ground by not exercising any discipline (including within his own Church of England). In this way, over time, the practice will overcome the teaching, and biblically faithful doctrine will become irrelevant. This lets him say to orthodox Anglicans, “The doctrine and teaching of the Churches of the Anglican Communion have not been changed.” But in reality, the practice on the ground in the minority, Western Anglican churches in no way reflects the doctrine and teaching of the Anglican Communion. It is this trend which Global South Archbishops Badi and Wong identified as “driving forces of the West” that are dominating the Anglican Communion and exalting autonomy over interdependence and mutual accountability.
In the end, Archbishop Welby closes his letter by saying, “As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement over these issues.” This is a presumptuous statement that does not reflect the statements of the Bishops in Gafcon and Global South. The Gafcon Bishops have quoted Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” in their 2018 Letter to the Churches. The Global South Bishops stated the same thing in their Friday July 30th press release, “Today we may be ‘gathered together’ but we most certainly cannot ‘walk together’ until provinces which have gone against Scripture—and the will of the consensus of the bishops—repent and return to orthodoxy.” The Archbishop of Canterbury believes that two mutually contradictory positions can be reconciled by “listening and good disagreement.” The GAFCON and Global South Bishops believe that those promoting unbiblical teaching and practices must repent.
For repentance is essential to reconciliation. That’s what the Bible says, for sure.