– 9 February
[CofE] BREAKING: The Southwark Declaration
The following has been distributed this morning to sympathetic parishes in Southwark Diocese and beyond for affirmation. Southwark has been gripped in a growing standoff between the bishop and his evangelical parishes who are increasingly disenchanted with his unwillingness to uphold Biblical and canonical standards, particularly in the area of human sexuality.
The Southwark Declaration
As clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Southwark:
We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. We affirm with Canon A5 that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.’’
We affirm, with Article XX, that ‘it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written.’
We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5), the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 (‘Of Holy Matrimony’) that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse. We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).
We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese, alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths, live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.
We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority only those who hold to these truths in good conscience.
I have to be very careful with the attribution of this post – because of the fact that there are twin brothers whose surname is Ould, both of whom are apt to post articles against the enabling of Gay people to flourish within the Church – on account of their affinity with the oddly-named ‘Standing Firm’ sodality which derives its rigidity to a sola Scriptura, fundamentalist theology.
David Ould, the writer of this article, on the ‘Stand Firm’ website – who is the Rector of Glenquarie Anglican Church in Sydney – might seem the less likely of the two brothers to be involved with the U.K. Diocese of Southwark. However, as most bloggers in the Anglican Communion are aware, the Sydney Diocese in Australia – with its links to GAFCON – is not averse to empathising with its cohorts in the U.K., where David’s brother, Peter (another blogger against gay relationships) is, himself, a parish minister.
‘Sola Scriptura’ devotees are renowned for their insistence on a literal application of every word of the scriptures – except where they indulge the latitude they themselves allow for themselves on issues like banned foods, mixed fibre clothing, women wearing hats in church and other assorted shibboleths which not even they would want to insist upon.
Thus, for them, it almost stands to reason that – in standing firm on issues of gender and sexuality – they are addressing the most important thing (for them), which is that of how human beings are able to measure up to the ancient patriarchal standards of sexual behaviour. (It seems, in passing, that in the circumstances of Genesis 19:8, they might excuse the patriarchal behaviour of Lot, who surrendered the virginity of his daughters in order to appease the demands of the men of Sodom for ‘male flesh’).
Whether, or not, the rebels in the Diocese of Southwark, might join up with the GAFCON-backed A.M.i.E rebel-Church in the U.K. is anyone’s guess. Whatever happens there will no doubt help to exacerbate the stand-off between GAFCON and the C. of E. And, make no mistake, Mr Ould and the Sydney Diocese will be part of the conservative fundamentalist bloc in the Anglican Communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand