General Synod members express ‘lack of confidence’ over ‘shared conversations’

22 July 2016

Members of the Church of England’s General Synod have issued a statement expressing their dissatisfaction with the July Synod’s ‘shared conversations’ on human sexuality.

Christian Concern’s Chief Executive Andrea Williams, a member of Synod for the Chichester diocese, joined 31 other members in a letter to the College of Bishops on 17 July.

‘Lack of serious engagement with Scriptures’

The statement read:

“Since the beginning of the regional conversations people from all traditions in the church have bemoaned the lack of serious engagement with the Scriptures. Sadly, despite promises to correct this matter, these concerns remain at the end of the process. We hope that the Bishops will ensure that our varied experience does not outweigh the uniting power of a commitment to truth and holiness as described in God’s word.

“We, the undersigned members of the General Synod, wish to express our lack of confidence in the process of the Shared Conversations. Whatever their stated purposes, the outcome has not led to a greater confidence that the Church will be guided by the authoritative voice of the Scriptures, and its decisive shaping of traditional Anglican teaching, in any forthcoming discussions.”

‘Listening agenda divisive’

Christian Concern had a stand at the Synod gathering highlighting Jesus’ teaching about marriage in Scripture, on large banners. A ‘pledge’ card was also available for members of Synod to sign.

Andrea Williams, along with Wilberforce Director Dr Joe Boot, issued a separate statement after the Synod meeting in York, saying:

“St. Paul does not convene a Synod to discuss the merits of sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness in the church, he simply puts out the unrepentant and offending parties (1 Cor. 5).

“We therefore agree with the logic of those evangelical critics (some of whom boycotted the whole affair) who argued that the ‘shared conversation’ process itself was an ill-conceived, pluralistic exercise that falsely placed LGBTI activism on a level playing field with the plain teaching of Scripture and the historic teaching of the church which the bishops swore to uphold – as such the ‘listening’ agenda itself was divisive, with the sole aim of softening opposition to revisionism and change.”

‘Appeal to secular norms’

They continued:

“The outcome of the shared conversations was as many predicted; confusion, frustration, disappointment and division. The paucity of the biblical argument to support anything other than that of the Orthodox and presently held position was ignored. It was replaced by a simple appeal to secular norms.

“At a time when what the church needs is clear leadership and biblical clarity we are confronted with the hand-wringing of leading bishops, with head shakes and hand-waving at the Christian Concern booth as though Jesus own words from the New Testament on Christian Concern banners in the lobby were offensive. Traditionally orthodox bishops are now refusing to ‘state their position’ and the rudder of the ship is being steered in the wrong direction.” 

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