The Covert Letter
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By Julian Mann
January 21, 2013

A prominent UK media 'evangelical', garlanded by the politically correct establishment, lapelled with a Member of the British Empire medal during the premiership of Tony Blair, bestows his blessing on same-sex relationships. This well-publicised intervention represents a Goliath strutting before the beleaguered forces of Christian orthodoxy right at the start of 2013. What can they possibly do in the face of such a media onslaught?

Preach the Word.

That was what the Revd Richard Coekin did. The Anglican evangelical church planter and senior pastor of Dundonald Church in south-west London preached a sermon to his congregation in response to the Revd Steve Chalke's article in Christianity Magazine in which he wrote:

"In autumn 2012 I conducted a dedication and blessing service following the Civil Partnership of two wonderful gay Christians. Why? Not to challenge the traditional understanding of marriage - far from it - but to extend to these people what I would do to others: the love and support of our local church. Too often, those who seek to enter an exclusive, same-sex relationship have found themselves stigmatised and excluded by the Church. I have come to believe this is an injustice and out of step with God's character as seen through Christ. I leave it to others to debate whether a Civil Partnership plus a dedication and blessing should equal a marriage or not. But I do believe that the Church has a God-given responsibility to include those who have for so long found themselves excluded."

Mr Chalke got his MBE for 'services to social inclusion' under New Labour in the Queen's New Year Honours of 2004. Including sin was not at the time mentioned in the citation.

Mr Coekin's sermon - Is Steve Chalke wrong? Marriage Divorce & Celibacy - was on Matthew 19v1-12. He is manifestly not an academic or a slick communicator. But his sermon was beautifully clear in explaining the Bible's teaching and wonderfully applied for a London church family living and working in the spiritual and moral crisis engulfing the UK. By God's grace, the Revd Chalke's false teaching was floored by this eminently pastoral sermon.

Writing is hopefully helpful but preaching is far better. A pastor opening up the Word of God to the people he knows and loves and prays for is Jesus' answer to the Goliath of media-friendly false teaching. Thank the good Lord for the devastating sling-shot of His Word.

Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK

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