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Sad Day for Church of England when Changing Attitude Drives Episcopal Oversight

Sad Day for Church of England when Changing Attitude Drives Episcopal Oversight

By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
December 19, 2013

Changing Attitude is a homosexualist lobby group in the Church of England promoting teaching and behaviour contrary to the Bible; Andrea Minichiello Williams is an orthodox Anglican who upholds the Bible's teaching that practising homosexuality is wrong in the sight of God and damaging to individuals made in His image. Yet, in a public relations tie-up with Changing Attitude, her local bishop has rebuked her for a speech she recently made against practising homosexuality at a conference in Jamaica.

Mrs Williams, CEO of evangelical campaign group Christian Concern, represents Chichester Diocese on the CofE's General Synod. The Bishop of Chichester, the Right Revd Martin Warner, an Anglo-Catholic who leads a hitherto traditionalist diocese, has this week issued the following statement against Mrs Williams:

"The comments by Andrea Minichiello Williams about the decriminalisation of same sex intercourse in Jamaica have no sanction in the Church of England or the diocese of Chichester. Insofar as such comments incite homophobia, they should be rejected as offensive and unacceptable.

"The Christian Church is widely perceived as homophobic and intolerant of those for whom same sex attraction is the foundation of their emotional lives. It is urgent, therefore, that Christians find legitimate ways to affirm and demonstrate the conviction that the glory of God is innate in every human being, and the mercy of God embraces each of us indiscriminately."

Significantly, Bishop Warner's rebuke to Mrs Williams is published in a press release issued by Changing Attitude Sussex. Its chair Dr Keith Sharpe is quoted as saying: "Williams' bigoted outburst amounts to dangerous hatemongering. It is reprehensible and highly irresponsible."

The alliance between Bishop Warner and Changing Attitude against Mrs Williams raises an important issue about the episcopal duty to uphold biblical truth and refute doctrinal error. The CofE's doctrinal formularies - and even the fudged Pilling report into human sexuality had to acknowledge this - clearly teach that sex outside heterosexual marriage is wrong.

Why then are those clergy and laity in the General Synod who regularly get up and proclaim that active sexual relationships between persons not heterosexually married are acceptable for Christians and even holy not publicly rebuked by their diocesan bishops?

Yet Mrs Williams, a committed servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, gets a slap on the wrists from her bishop for speaking out against the social and moral dangers of practising homosexuality, a rebuke conveyed in a Changing Attitude press release. It will be a very sad day for the Church of England when Changing Attitude drives episcopal oversight rather than Almighty God's revealed will in the Holy Scriptures. As those who who speak the absolution after confession when they visit parish churches, bishops should surely be teaching repentance, a call that all of us who profess the Christian faith need to be heeding for our spiritual wellbeing.

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

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