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Notebook Religion

Clerical errors

Lines and Okoh (Photos courtesy of GAFCON)

Religion

Clerical errors

Church leaders respond to pastors and priests turning away from Scripture

During a June gathering in an Illinois chapel, a Nigerian archbishop and a group of North American Anglicans consecrated a British missionary to serve churches facing an erosion of Biblically orthodox teaching in Scotland.

Sounds complicated?

Consider it a summer tableau of the ongoing battle to maintain basic Christian teaching, as some churches around the world continue to embrace perilous compromise on issues of marriage and sexuality.

One of the latest rounds of compromise came earlier this summer, as the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to endorse same-sex marriage. (The Scottish Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.)

The move provoked a response from leaders of GAFCON, a group of conservative Anglican clergy from around the world. At a meeting in Nigeria, GAFCON leaders called for the appointment of a missionary bishop to serve churches in the United Kingdom and Europe striving to hold to the authority of the Bible.

The new bishop: Andy Lines—a British-born Anglican serving with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a body of conservative Anglicans formed in 2009. Members of the ACNA consecrated Lines at their June meeting at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria participated in the service, and he later reminded fellow Christians that false teaching is “restless and relentless” and leads to “grave spiritual danger.”

Okoh wrote that the danger extended to the Church of England as well: In February, the church’s General Synod rejected a report reaffirming Biblical teaching on marriage, though it didn’t vote to change church law. (A new report in 2020 could lead to such changes.) Then in July it passed a motion that said transgender individuals should be “welcomed and affirmed” by local churches and called for the House of Bishops to consider preparing a liturgy service to mark a person’s gender transition.

While churches should welcome anyone—including transgender individuals—to hear the good news of Christ’s gospel, those churches shouldn’t affirm sinful behavior that contradicts the Scriptures and leads to deeper confusion. “Our calling is not to be conformed, but to be transformed,” said Okoh.

Conformity on issues of marriage and sexuality is an ongoing temptation for churchgoers across denominations. In July, well-known Christian author Eugene Peterson startled many by appearing to affirm gay marriage in an interview with the Religion News Service.

When reporter Jonathan Merritt asked the retired pastor if he were leading a church today and a gay couple “in your church who were Christians of good faith asked you to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony, is that something you would do?”

Peterson responded: “Yes.”

The comments evoked a firestorm of criticism from disappointed Christians, and LifeWay Christian Resources announced it was prepared to stop selling Peterson’s books, including his well-known paraphrase of the Bible called The Message.

Two days later, Peterson, 84, retracted his comments: “When put on the spot by this particular interviewer, I said yes in the moment. But in further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that.”

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted “Peterson is also 84 years old. The interview with RNS was actually a valedictory event, of a sort. He announced that he would not be doing any more public speaking or teaching. Peterson had every reason to expect that he would conclude his public ministry without having to answer these questions.”

That didn’t happen, and Mohler noted that journalists will ask even elderly retirees LGBTQ questions—and, “Every pastor, every Christian leader, every author—even every believer—will have to answer. ...

Evasive, wandering, and inconclusive answers will be seen for what they are.”

Comments

  • Laneygirl's picture
    Laneygirl
    Posted: Sat, 07/22/2017 11:05 am

    "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."

    2 TI. 4:3-4

  • Bob R
    Posted: Sat, 07/22/2017 11:00 pm

    Isaiah 3:12-14  "Youths oppress my people, women rule over them.  O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path.  

    The Lord takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.  The Lord enters into judgment against the elders and leaders of his people: “It is you who have ruined my vineyard..."

  •  Xion's picture
    Xion
    Posted: Mon, 07/24/2017 01:31 pm

    This problem isn't just about sexuality.  I routinely engage with seminary professors who call themselves Christians, but believe the Bible is a collection of myths and that Jesus isn't God.  

  •  phillipW's picture
    phillipW
    Posted: Mon, 07/24/2017 02:42 pm

    I can understand the broader culture submitting to whatever the latest and greatest fad is, either materially, or physically, but why the church?  Having just started attending an Anglican church locally this year, I get updates on this sort of thing all the time, and the only reason I attend this particular Anglican church is that they are very honest and up front about their adherence to Scripture as truth.

    Perhaps when all of the money dries up, and the church is forced to survive based on something more than empty donations from cultural "christians" who are both living in and of the world, then we'll be able to identify the truth Christian Church.  Until then, we carry on always being extremely cautious of who we identify with, with regards to our local church.  And I can honestly say that no matter the name on the outside of any local church, it's what's going on inside the church that we have to examine with a fine toothed comb.  So many well meaning people attending church in name only, who give their hour a week to pay lip service to a faith to which they are merely pretending to adhere to.  These are the folks who will be sifted as tares when the money dries up and belonging to the church will actually become something you do only with great risk to your public persona and reputation, and not in a positive way, at least publicly speaking.

  • EZ818
    Posted: Wed, 08/02/2017 02:14 pm

    God is allowing apostasy in the church to purify it. We will all be forced to choose Him, or the world.