The Lambeth I:10 Briefing: Process and Motive, Truth and Love
We have received inquiries about the way the GAFCON UK Lambeth I.10 briefing was developed, the reasons behind why it was created, and its accuracy. Below is some more information about each topic.
For this briefing a large amount of information was gathered by a group of contributors, and divided into four distinct categories:
1) rumours (little if any credibility)
2) confirmed private information, (credible, but confidential)
3) publicly available information, (credible, publicly available, but of lesser significance)
4) publicly available information, often promoted by activists (credible, publicly available, and of greater significance)
There have been multiple versions of this briefing. The information released by GAFCON UK was from a version that included only a fraction of the total information gathered, and consisted almost entirely of public information that had often received wide coverage and had in some cases been promoted by LGBT activists (i.e. Category 4).
We were aware that those listed in the document had not attempted to hide their activities, and would consider inclusion in this briefing to be a badge of honour. There was never any intention to "shame" anyone, but simply to collate information that was already widely known. In fact, some have been disappointed to have not been included in the briefing and are registering their violations at www.lambeth110.com.
The Reason for the Briefing
The briefing documents the situation in the Church of England in relation to its compliance with Lambeth I.10. The GAFCON Primates were receiving conflicting accounts from members of the Church of England about the seriousness and extent of the breaches of Lambeth I.10. That confusion was the impetus and motive for the briefing. It is unfortunate that such a briefing had to be developed. The real story, the main story, and the story that has been missed by many, is that this briefing catalogues the inability by the leadership of the Church of England to maintain biblical church order, or abide by the agreements reached at the conference it itself hosted in 1998.
Unfortunately, this situation is not new, but has been developing over the course of many years. As the blogger Cranmer noted in February 2014,
“it is not what Canon Law prohibits in theory but how the bishops handle disobedience in practice which will determine and define the Church's theology on same-sex marriage.”
The GAFCON briefing does not suggest precisely how leaders in the Church of England should go about addressing these fundamental issues of teaching, discipline, and integrity. Those decisions will need to be taken up by the upcoming meetings of the House of Bishops and the General Synod. Whether those actions are a sufficient remedy, will no doubt be a matter that is taken up by the GAFCON Primates in the first half of 2017.
Commitment to Truth
GAFCON has the highest concern for truth, and continues to work tirelessly to provide the Primates with the best available information. It has been suggested that the briefing is highly inaccurate. That is false. We believe the briefing has stood up to scrutiny well. There have been a few places where we have made updates. All updates have been minor. So that you can assess the significance of these changes, each paragraph that has been edited from the original has been footnoted by GAFCON UK with the precise changes and the reason for each edit. For instance, in one case the news agency that originally covering the story misreported the name of a parish. In another case, the official title of a clergyman was updated to include his status as a Canon of the Church. We have had to mend broken web links. None of the updates have required a substantial change to the briefing’s findings.
Another misunderstanding concerns the content and authority of the teaching of the worldwide Anglican Church on sexuality and marriage. It has been said that the Anglican Communion has "not come to a common mind" on the matter of sexuality, and therefore allows different interpretations and practices. This is not true: in 1998 Lambeth Resolution I:10, which affirms the historic teaching of the church on sexuality, was passed by 526 votes to 70, with 45 abstentions. The January 2016 Primates meeting in Canterbury reiterated the same teaching (and 'consequences' for those churches which violate it), as did the meeting of GAFCON and Global South Primates in Cairo in October.
In the Church of England, while the Pilling Report of 2013 suggested changes to the church’s teaching, these were rejected by the House of Bishops in 'Pastoral Guidance" of February 2014; the Bishops, while affirming the highest level of care and pastoral support for people with same sex attraction, made it clear that the Scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer and Lambeth I:10 are regarded as authoritative, and clearly stated: “services of blessing should not be provided” for same sex couples. While other aspects of the 'Pastoral Guidance' have been criticized for ambiguity, it is clear enough to put paid to the idea that the Church of England allows for a liberal theology and practice on issues of sexuality and marriage.
Commitment to Love
It has been suggested that the publication of the GAFCON UK list shows a lack of love and grace. GAFCON wants to affirm the church’s responsibility for pastoral care, respect and love to all people, regardless of circumstances, and also the call on Christian leaders to “guard the good deposit of the faith”, teaching the truth and exposing and resisting error. Lambeth I:10 contains elements of both. The commitment to love does not override the commitment to truth, as if ‘love’ must involve lowering or abolishing the perfect standards of God. Rather, the church remains called to commend those standards, our creator’s guidance for our flourishing, and the Gospel of forgiveness and transformation in Christ for those who fall short ie all believers, within a community in which we walk with one another, holding one another to account, and bearing each other’s burdens.