NAIROBI: GAFCON Leader says Clarity of Scripture at Center of Anglican Debate
Former Sydney Archbishop says sexual expression must occur in bonds of marriage between a man and woman
Archbishop Justin Welby says sexuality is contextual
By David W. Virtue in Nairobi
October 23, 2013
Two archbishops are at odds with each other over human sexuality in separate messages to 1350 GAFCON delegates here at All Saints' Cathedral.
"When we look at scripture on the issue of human sexuality and look at it again it is the same message; human sexual expression needs to occur within the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman," said GAFCON leader Dr. Peter Jensen.
By contrast, Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican Communion said in a video address to some 1350 GAFCON delegates here that sexuality is contextual. "In the same way that different churches have to respond to war or corruption, so too do they have to adapt to changing attitudes towards homosexual sex and gay marriage, which is enthusiastically endorsed in England.
"We all live in different contexts," said Anglicanism's top prelate, "and [we] have to deal with rapid changes in the culture. The issue of sexuality is a major part of that." The Archbishop did not condemn gay marriage but went on to say that "churches respond in different ways" to their various contexts, stating that some have to deal "with war" and others with "corrupt government."
However, Dr. Jensen firmly disagreed with the Archbishop of Canterbury saying that anything else is "unholy matrimony."
"The debate on the clarity of scripture is that the Bible is for everybody. It speaks for itself and all can read it and interpret it for themselves."
Jensen cited former Rochester Bishop Michael Nazir Ali who said the issue was about the clarity of Scripture. "The Bible interprets itself."
Jensen said GAFCON has been considered a schismatic movement but this is not true. "GAFCON is a movement of unity. We are authentic, true Anglicans. Are we really the Anglican Communion? No, the intention is to gather up the remnants of the Anglican Communion. To be authentic true Anglicans, we need to stand for Biblical truth that is going to cost you dearly indeed. GAFCON is a way of delivering friendship. Being here we know we are not alone.
"At GAFCON I in 2008 we saw a way of modeling the Anglican Communion, bringing our gifts to bear for the sake of one another. A microcosm is the GFAC movement. 1350 Anglican Christians here in Nairobi is proof of that.
"Anglicans, through no fault of their own, stand for Biblical truth. We are here to gather up the fragments of Christ's church. We bring together Anglicans from all over the world to release the energy of the Anglican Communion to the glory of God's name," he said.
Earlier, the General Secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans said GAFCON is the future of the Anglican Communion. Whether Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, Charismatic, High or Low Church all those gathered at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi are confessing Anglicans. "We believe the apostolic faith and we do not believe the faith of those who contradict the Bible and who deny the uniqueness and supremacy of Christ. We therefore live under the cross of Christ."
The Biblical mandate to go out and make disciples and preach the Gospel lay at the heart of the fellowship, he said. "We are here to learn how to be disciples of Jesus and to learn how to make disciples of Jesus."
Jensen believes that many Anglican churches have not been faithful to Christ's call. "We have failed to make disciples through teaching the commands of Jesus found in the Bible at depth. That is why so much of the church in the west has simply collapsed, capitulated and compromised before a virulent, antagonistic secularism."
Disdain and ignorance of the Scriptures was not solely a Western disease, he added. "We too are in danger of not teaching our people in Africa and Asia and South America and elsewhere. They too face immense challenges from religion and ideologies opposed to the gospel."
The "ideologies" that have "emasculated the West" are spreading round the world like a "destructive tsunami. We must teach our people so that they will be ready for it," he said.
"We are here to partner with each other in this great work of going into all the world, teaching, preaching and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ," continued Jensen, adding that delegates to GAFCON are the foot soldiers in the fight against apostasy. "We are here to support one another. When Anglicans are made to feel old fashioned and out of touch for believing the Bible, we want to say, 'We stand with you: You are not alone.'"
The "crisis" which "provoked" the first GAFCON conference "awakened Anglicans everywhere" to the failure of the old ways of being church. "The structures of the Old Communion let us down badly. They could not contain the powerful new wine of today's confessional Anglicanism," he opined.
In 2008 GAFCON "began a new way of being Anglican; a way which insists on standards of belief and behavior; a way which does not need to go through Canterbury to be Anglican; a way in which we do not have to ask anyone's permission to defend or preach the gospel; a way which seeks to model fellowship for the 21st century Communion; a way in which we do not sit around waiting for thing to happen."
The "future" of Anglicanism had "arrived" and it was GAFCON, Dr. Jensen said.
Some 1350 delegates from 40 countries and 27 provinces are here in Nairobi.
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