Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Athanasius, err, GAFCON Responds to Justin Welby

There is some excellent analysis out there on the current disagreement surrounding the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC).  Lee Gattis’ piece particularly stands out.  Kevin and Gavin are excellent as well.

But perhaps the most brilliant and succinct response comes from the Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, Chairman of GAFCON.  As most readers know, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said and did virtually nothing to discourage the SEC from solemnizing same sex “marriage.”  Instead he let them know they would be welcome at Lambeth 2020 regardless.  Nor did he lift a finger to assist the orthodox remaining in the SEC in spite of their repeated pleas.  But then, when GAFCON did respond to their pleas, Justin got huffy about boundary crossing.

Well, Archbishop Okoh just blew Justin Welby out of the water ever so nicely:

As I write, we are preparing for Trinity Sunday. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is vital. Without it, we cannot speak truly of God in a way that is faithful to the bible. However, in the fourth century the Church was nearly overwhelmed by the Arians. They were the followers of Arius, who claimed that the Son was a created being, not really God.

If the Church had continued to follow Arius, the Christian faith would have been lost. To deny the full divinity of Jesus strikes at the heart of the Christian message that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.  St Athanasius is still remembered as the man who was willing to make a costly stand against this heresy.

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women.  It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

Read the rest for yourself and do so at Why? A very nice touch was a prominent depiction of Athanasius that accompanied the letter on the GAFCON site.  Really that image alone rebuts Welby’s whinging about boundary crossing very well.  Okoh’s letter, excellent as it is, merely spells out the good example of Athanasius and its application today. I also like the gentle reminder that ACNA itself is the product of boundary crossing.

Speaking of which, I am very pleased that ACNA is taking a prominent role in the Lines consecration.  But more on that at a later time.  I need to get ready for the Reformed Episcopal Church’s General Council.

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