Welby: Church needs to avoid drifting to divorce
“Agenda”: Archbishop Welby speaks at the EA launch
THE Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday that the Church must not become like a marriage in which a couple have drifted apart and are content with their independent lives.
Speaking at the opening of the Evangelical Alliance’s (EA) new headquarters in King’s Cross, London, Archbishop Welby said: “It is too easy for the Church to be comfortable in separation, like a bad marriage where the couple has drifted apart, but not to the point where they’ll divorce. They just sort of somehow live separate lives in the same house; they don’t talk much except what’s necessary to keep things running along. And they may not even notice that the separation is growing and deepening, but they live with it. And the Church can fall into that trap – in fact, over many years, has fallen into that trap.”
Archbishop Welby called for organisations such as the EA “to be those . . . who wake us out of any comfort in disunity, because visible disunity is contrary to the expressed will, calling, purpose, and command of God.”
During a Q&A after his address, Archbishop Welby reiterated his opposition to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, but said: “The Church has not been good at dealing with homophobia. And we have to be really, really repentant about that because it’s utterly and totally wrong. . .
“We have seen changes in the idea about sexuality, sexual behaviour, which quite simply [mean that] we have to face the fact that the vast majority of people under 35 think not only that what we are saying is incomprehensible, but also think that we are plain wrong and wicked and equate it to racism and other forms of gross and atrocious injustice.”
Earlier on in his address, speaking as “an Evangelical in theology” who was “deeply committed to proclaiming the gospel”, Archbishop Welby said that “most Evangelicals . . . aren’t very good at evangelism. . . The black-majority churches just put us to shame. . . We’ve slightly lost our nerve about the fact that we have not just some good news, we have the good news for society and for the future of this world.”
The Church had a tendency to “come across too easily as negative”, he said. “We deal in a secular world where it is assumed the Church has an agenda when we start offering our help to Government. We need to show that we do have an agenda: it’s to love the society in which we live, and to bless it in every way that we possibly can. . .
“It’s not that things get a bit better, it’s that the world is turned upside down and there is justice and we see God at work. . . Jesus changes people and, because he changes people, he changes societies . . . and our world is changed.”
Full marks to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt. Revd. Justin Welby, whose early Evangelical provenance does not prevent him from ‘speaking the truth in love’ to his audience of young Evangelicals, at a gathering in England recently.
His warning against the Anglican Communion’s perceptible ‘drift towards divorce’, came in the context of his remarks about the Church’s entrenched and ‘wicked’ attitude towards homosexuals, which he saw as counter-productive of the message of the Gospel, and grounds on which many young people found themselves at odds with the Church – who consider homophobia as equivalent to racism.
The Archbishop’s readiness to challenge deep-seated prejudice against homosexuals, follows on a similar statement made, en passant, by Pope Francis recently, to journalists, on his journey homeward from a Youth Gathering in South America.
While the Archbishop of Canterbury is still wary of the British Government’s recent legalisation of Same-Sex Marriage; he is obviously worried about the implication of homophobia, which has prompted organisations in the Communion – like the GAFCON largely-African conservative group – to drift apart from the more liberal provincial Churches that have embraced the LGBT community as a legitimate minority of members in their Churches.
The divorce, of which the ABC is obviously fearful, will not – contrary to opinion is some quarters – have been brought about by action on behalf of the inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of liberal provinces; but rather by the organisations – like the GAFCON – that refuse to recognise the integrity of Gay people in the Church, and have already withdrawn from fellowship with such Provincial Churches in the Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand