by Charles Gardner —
Religious news of monumental significance has been largely ignored by the mainstream media. And the irony is that this is partly due to the immediate distractions of the recent Coronation, a profoundly religious ceremony.
I am referring to the massive split among worldwide Anglicans, the third largest grouping of Christians on earth.
Amidst all the splendor of the new King’s crowning, there was something of an elephant in the room as the man performing the ceremony – Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – had just lost the allegiance of the vast majority of global Anglicans.
But then ignorance of faith and its significance for the future of Britain and the world is rife among the liberal elite. Yet if we continue down our secular slippery slope towards atheism, the vacuum will be filled by ignorance and lawlessness for generations to come.
The shocking news given so little airing is that 85% of the world’s Anglicans – those represented by GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) and the Global South Fellowship, two separate but overlapping organizations – have cut off their links with Canterbury.
‘Decapitation’ is how a good friend of mine sees the momentous decision by GAFCON, known in the UK as the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, in no longer recognizing Welby’s leadership following the Church of England’s decision to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages.
My friend, Martin Weatherston, who currently heads up an Anglican mission linked with Israel, attended the latest GAFCON conference at Kigali in Rwanda where he witnessed overwhelming revulsion for the Church of England leadership.
He reminded me that the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of Anglican bishops from around the world, had in 1998 confirmed its long-held doctrine that marriage was between a man and a woman.
But the leadership had since ignored 25 years of warnings from most Anglican Primates (i.e. archbishops) not to depart from the authority of God’s Word.
“The final straw came earlier this year when Archbishop Welby said that he ‘joyfully accepted’ the Church’s decision to approve blessings for same-sex couples,” Martin explained.
And so, at Kigali, GAFCON passed a vote of no confidence in Welby and his fellow revisionists.
“The leaders of GAFCON and of the Global South Fellowship made it abundantly clear that they are not leaving the Anglican Communion; it is the revisionists who have moved away from the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). This amounts to a tectonic shift for the global church – one of truly historic significance.”
It is indeed hugely significant, but not a disaster for the future of Christianity itself. Jesus clearly warned there would be a falling away from the true faith in the last days (Matthew 24:10f). And the Kigali statement serves as a rallying call for all who wish to stand squarely for Christ when all around is sinking sand.
Jesus likens his kingdom, among other things, to a vine which needs pruning (John 15:1-6). Dead wood needs to be cut off to produce healthy fruit. And Jesus also said you will know true and false prophets by their fruit (Matthew 7:16).
Yet his kingdom is not essentially about numbers, but of a ripe and ready harvest of all who have not bowed the knee to the god of this world.
Martin Weatherston is currently acting chair of the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ) Israel Board, with centers in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Galilee. Now living in Western Australia, he is originally from South Africa where we both went to the same boarding school.
He was once assistant to former Archbishop of Cape Town Bill Burnett (1917-1994), a passionate evangelist who, we are sure, would never have colluded with bishops supporting same-sex marriage.
Burnett was once parish priest of my home town where I attended Sunday School as a child, and would also no doubt have stood squarely with other African primates who believe the Word of God is the Word of God.
The Kigali commitment clearly means most Anglicans will continue to follow Jesus’ teaching on all matters of doctrine. They are not disassociating themselves from true Anglicanism – it is the revisionists who have done that.
If the English hierarchy wish to take a different path, it is a tragedy. But a number of key UK congregations have already followed the example of GAFCON in refusing to submit to the headship of Canterbury.
As Joshua put it to the Israelites of old, it’s time to choose whom you will serve. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)