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Archbishop Welby claims he was "taken aback" by Las Vegas prayer criticism

Archbishop Welby claims he was "taken aback" by Las Vegas prayer criticism
Anglican Canon comes under fire for comments over Curry and Nevada Massacre
Can two walk together, unless they be agreed?
(Amos 3:3)


By David W. Virtue, DD
October 4, 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was "taken aback" by criticism of the decision to ask the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church to pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. Bishop Michael Curry prayed for the victims at the start of Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral, England, Monday night on the first day of the Primates' Meeting, according to an ACNS press release.

On Tuesday afternoon the Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, Canon for Communications and Media Relations for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), speaking on behalf of GAFCON, said that the decision to invite Michael Curry to lead the congregation in prayer at the Evensong service, "put the GAFCON primates in a difficult spot." He said that they were "forced to look like they are walking together when they are not walking together."

Later, when asked to respond to the comment during a press briefing at Canterbury Cathedral, Archbishop Welby said that he was "slightly taken aback."

Welby went on to say; "Michael Curry, who is a citizen of the United States, was asked by us -- after we had talked with anguish about the events in Las Vegas -- we said: 'Could you lead a prayer as we begin our prayers together at Evensong?'"

"People all over the world are praying for Las Vegas," he said. "I don't think we ought to bring church politics into Las Vegas. I mean, it is the most dreadful, horrendous, appalling event. I suppose that I would be surprised and disappointed by that comment."

How ironic. Would Athanasius have said prayers with Arius? Liberal bloggers have gone on the attack accusing Canon Gross of Donatism, a belief that a pure church without spot or wrinkle is possible and that anyone in communion with a spiritually dead man is an accomplice in their fraud. The problem with Donatism is that no person is morally pure. Later, Donatism was declared a heresy.

In point of fact, Canon Gross never said that. He said it put the GAFCON primates in a "difficult spot", and it does. GAFCON primates are out of communion with bishops like Michael Curry and Fred Hiltz, in fact so much so that three of them from Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda are not present at this summit because either their provinces said they cannot attend (Uganda) or they have chosen personally not to attend.

Furthermore, it is Archbishop Welby who has broken faith with the primates when sanctions were ordered against Curry and the Episcopal Church at the last primates' meeting, and Welby deliberately flouted those "consequences" at Lusaka later in the year when TEC bishops were present at all decision-making opportunities.

Just yesterday, the Scottish Episcopal church was informed that they had violated the theological norms of Scripture by allowing same-sex marriages and were sanctioned by Welby. So, will they get the same wink wink, nod nod that Curry got from Welby after the primates did the same thing to TEC?

The SEC has been told that they are henceforth excluded from ecumenical and leadership roles in the Anglican Communion. Well, let's see how long that lasts. Does this mean that the Primus of Scotland, who claims "love means love" and said, "synodical processes" were kept, but clearly violate Scripture, is really going to get the bum's rush from Welby?

There is absolutely no reason to believe Welby will act any differently towards the SEC than he has against TEC. None.

He despises GAFCON (as did his predecessor Rowan Williams) because they refuse to fall in line with all his theobabble speak of reconciliation when reconciliation talk only means compromise, which the GAFCON primates have steadfastly said they will not do. They are never in a thousand years going to contradict or violate Scripture by saying that sodomy and same-sex marriage is good and right in the eyes of God. Never.

Welby steadfastly refuses to believe that, and accepts that he can't be persuaded it is wrong, thus living in a world of total self-delusion.

His oil company managerial style is not working. His evangelical, ALPHA-lite theology is not working. It never really did. Like his predecessor, the Hegelian Rowan Williams, Welby is over his head and out of his depth. It is fully apparent now that he cannot hold the Anglican Communion together.

Prayer, of this kind is a public symbol of theological unity, it is an expression of corporate humility and common worship and Curry violated that, even as his denomination has torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion.

In Acts 2 41,42 it is recorded that they continued in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Curry has not continued in proclaiming apostolic doctrine. He and his predecessors had long ago abandoned 'sound teaching', preferring new-fangled "doctrines" of inclusion and diversity.

As one blogger noted, "The fellowship of believers is a fellowship of spiritual commonalities. Prayer is an example of these. When you pray say, 'Our father...'. There are many cases where I may pray and preach among unbelievers. When however, my joining in prayer is understood as an act of fellowship in the gospel, a tacit approval of the spirituality of those with whom we pray, I think praying together sends wrong signals. What fellowship has light with darkness. I cannot imply that I have commonality with unbelievers and I view liberals as unbelievers. Praying for unbelievers is one thing, praying with them as if they were believers is another. It is in danger of being syncretic."

The blogger is correct. Canon Gross has outraged liberals, only anodyne prayers will not offend.

Can you imagine Elijah holding a chummy prayer time with the prophets of Baal? His praying with them was precisely the opposite; it was an explicit challenge to Baal.

Worship is an aspect of prayer. The Lord's Prayer makes this clear. Christians can say 'Our Father' together. My point is Christians and non-Christians cannot. The issue is what credence we are prepared to give to the confessed Christian faith of those who deny the gospel.

If we pray the Lord's Prayer with liberals, at many points we mean different things. How many accept trinitarian exclusivity. How many understand God's kingdom in terms of gospel faith and the return of Christ to destroy all his enemies, that is people who do not trust him. Do we agree at a fundamental level what his will is? Can we agree what sin is and therefore what our debts are and what temptation to sin includes?

Canon Gross was exactly correct in reflecting the will and concerns of the GAFCON primates. Let's hope that at some point they take the next logical step and bid Welby and the Church of England adieu.


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