The Church of England
The Church of England
By Les Sherlock, posted April 2021, but originally July 2017 and February 2018
On two occasions, during the General Synods of 2017 and 2018, the Church of England agreed motions that directly contradict the teaching of the Bible, which in my view brought it very close to apostasy. Not because of the specific issues themselves, but because of the way the Bible was treated in order to reach their decisions.
The two synods are discussed in different sections on this page, with the index for each under the heading of the year: 2017 2018
In July 2017, the Church of England Synod, amongst other things, discussed and voted to accept a Private Member’s Motion by Jayne Ozanne (Oxford). This can be seen in full here as a PDF, and reports on the debate in the Church Times, 8 July, are here and Christian News, 10 July, here. See Ed Shaw’s blog for feedback from a same-sex attracted man who took part in the debate. The motion began:
12 That this synod:
“ (a) endorse the statement (see below) of 16 January 2017 signed by The UK Council for Psychotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners and others that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world, is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence…”
Conversion therapy refers to anyone offering psychological or spiritual help (i.e. counselling/ prayer) to turn from a LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) lifestyle (my definition). The motion defines it as:
“Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy” or “sexual reorientation therapy”, is designed to change one’s sexual orientation from non-heterosexual to heterosexual.”
The first point of the summary in the motion says:
“The Bible teaches us that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps.139.14), and that we should praise God's gift of our creation. Thus, our diversity as human beings is a reflection of God's creativity and something to celebrate. The biblical concern is not with what we are but how we choose to live our lives, meaning that differing sexual orientations and gender identities are not inherently sinful, nor mental health disorders to be “cured”.”
During the debate, the Revd Dr Sean Doherty (London) moved the following amendment, based on sound Biblical teaching, which was defeated:
55 Leave out everything after “That this Synod:” and insert
“(a) note the statement of 16 January 2017 signed by The UK Council for Psychotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners and others concerning the practice of conversion therapy;
(b) affirm that all sexuality is equally affected by the Fall and that therefore Christian therapies and pastoral practices which assume otherwise are not warranted;
(c) affirm that pastoral care, prayer ministry and professional counselling are legitimate means of supporting individuals who choose them freely, provided that they respect the proper dignity of human beings and do not involve coercion or manipulation or make unwarranted promises about the removal of unwanted feelings; and
(d) ask the House of Bishops to draw up guidelines for work in this area to discourage inappropriate pastoral practices, and to encourage good ones.”
Also during the debate, Andrea Williams proposed an amendment inserting the words:
“as revealed in the Bible and taught by the church”
…to a motion calling for politicians to:
“prioritise the common good of all people.”
In response to this, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, concluded his reply by saying:
“If you’re going to serve the whole community please don’t limit our language…The Word became flesh and sadly we are now making it Word, Word and Word again. Resist the amendments.”
There are two issues here:
The principles by which we determine truth, right and wrong
The correct Christian attitude to sexuality
The Church of England only exists because of the Reformation, which began in Europe with Martin Luther’s ‘95 thesis’, published in 1517. The resulting movement back to the truth of the Gospel, which had been adulterated by succeeding generations of Roman Catholic Church leaders, spread across Europe and was made possible in England by King Henry VIII.
THE REFORMATION: ENGLAND AND THE “MIDDLE WAY”
In England, the Reformation began with Henry VIII’s quest for a male heir. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could remarry, the English king declared in 1534 that he alone should be the final authority in matters relating to the English church. Henry dissolved England’s monasteries to confiscate their wealth and worked to place the Bible in the hands of the people. Beginning in 1536, every parish was required to have a copy.
After Henry’s death, England tilted toward Calvinist-infused Protestantism during Edward VI’s six-year reign and then endured five years of reactionary Catholicism under Mary I. In 1559 Elizabeth I took the throne and, during her 44-year reign, cast the Church of England as a “middle way” between Calvinism and Catholicism, with vernacular worship and a revised Book of Common Prayer.
Taken from this article
The fundamental principle of the Reformation was ‘sola scriptura’ - by scripture alone - and thus rejected the man-made ideas that had permeated the Church. In fact there are five ‘solas’:
Solus Christus: by Christ alone
Sola Deo gloria: glory to God alone
Sola scriptura: by scripture alone
Sola fide: by faith alone
Sola gracia: by grace alone
It held that within the Bible was all that was necessary to understand truth, and that it was therefore above tradition or any interpretation of scripture that could not be supported solely within the 66 books of the Bible. So whenever today’s creed is recited, the line…
“He has spoken through the prophets”
…cannot possibly mean that when the prophets wrote the scriptures, they transmitted what God had said along with their own thoughts and ideas, some of which are right and some of which are wrong. This would be nonsense, since it would mean no-one could know what was actually from God and what was not, and everyone could twist and interpret scripture to suit their own particular taste. For confirmation the entire Bible is God’s word, see:
Proverbs 30:5–6; Matthew 5:17–18; 22:31–32, 43; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 2 Timothy 3:16; Acts 1:16; 4:24–25; Romans 3:2; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 5:12; 10:7; 2 Peter 3:15–16
(I cannot print these verses out in full because of the space it would take up. To see them and more, look at this page)
The idea that only trained intellectuals can know what the Bible actually means is falsified by:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
1 Corinthians 1:27
This makes the Archbishop of York’s comment “word, word, word” all the more remarkable. The Church that he helps to lead was founded on “word, word, word,” and every time he says the creed he declares the authority of scripture. It is a denial of the foundation stone of the Church, and in my view makes this debate of far greater importance than the issue it was about. This motion, accepted by the Synod, points to an apostate church: a church that has left its first love and is making up its own rules and regulations on the basis of personal likes and dislikes.
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
We have seen it coming for a long time, of course. The idea promoted by intellectuals that the books of the Bible were not written by the people claimed by the text to have done, and were not written at the time claimed, has been around for a very long time. So by this means the thin end of the wedge was inserted.
It was further pushed into place by the capitulation of many CoE clergy and hierarchy to the ungodly, unscriptural, illogical, unscientific theory of evolution - a theory designed to produce a universe that could be created and exist without the presence of a Creator.
Ungodly: denies the relevance of God to the universe’s creation and continued existence
Unscriptural: is contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible
Illogical: (for example) it assumes the most highly complex computer known to man - the human brain - appeared as a result of random mistakes
Unscientific: scientific observations falsify the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and the evolution of species as defined by Darwin.
Much of this website is devoted to this topic, so I will not say more about it here, other than to point out that the act of manipulating clear Bible teaching to accommodate the theory firmly established the principle that man’s reasoning trumps God revelation. So where does it end? All forms of Christian morality and standards become fair game with the deceptive reasoning:
“I am the way God made me, so whatever I want is valid and right.”
If you return to sola scriptura, you will see that you are not the way God made you!
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
Romans 3:23; 7:18
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
So Isaiah tells us that going our own way is both going ‘astray’ and is ‘iniquity’: in other words it is following our sinful nature.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
The implied answer to Jeremiah’s question, “who can know it?” of course, is that no–one can know their own heart is deceitful, because by definition they are being deceived by it! So it is impossible to determine what correct behaviour is by looking at ourselves, because the thing we are looking at is defective.
One complaint God had against Israel was that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes:
"You shall not at all do as we are doing here today—every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes—
"And it shall be, when you show this people all these words, and they say to you, 'Why has the LORD pronounced all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?' then you shall say to them, 'Because your fathers have forsaken Me,' says the LORD; 'they have walked after other gods and have served them and worshiped them, and have forsaken Me and not kept My law. AND YOU HAVE DONE WORSE THAN YOUR FATHERS, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me.
Jeremiah 16:10–12 (Emphasis mine)
So in God’s eyes, following our own inclination when it is contrary to what He has said is a worse sin than idolatry. There are 24 Old Testament verses saying we should not do what is right in our own eyes. See ‘Right in Their Own Eyes’ on this page. Right at the heart of the issue is the fact that the Bible tells us God’s perfect creation has been spoiled as a result of sin entering the world, and everyone born inherits a sinful nature that wants to go its own way instead of God’s.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come… Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts… because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Romans 5:12–14, 18–19; 6:12; 8:21
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive… And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1 Corinthians 15: 21–22, 49
So if my nature is not what God originally intended, and according to the Bible it is not, then it is vital I have some means of distinguishing between my ways and His ways; because, as Jeremiah tells us, He is going to give to me according to how I act.
I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If the way I act is contrary to what He wants:
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
I cannot therefore work out what is right or wrong by looking at my own desires or impulses. In fact ‘sexual immorality’ is specifically singled out as something to avoid, so it is vital that I know what sexual activity is immoral in the sight of God.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:18
Throughout history, people have made excuses in order to do what they want to do; but at the end of my life on Earth I will have to stand before God, and it is His standards by which He will judge, not mine!
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 (Two identical verses!)
Contrary to what some people might think, the commands of God in the Bible are not given in order to make life difficult for us, or because God is a spoilsport who wants to stop us doing enjoyable things. They are there to protect us from activities that will cause us harm. God hates sin because it will kill you! He made us. He knows what makes us tick. So manipulating Bible verses in order to make them say something different to what they quite clearly mean in order to justify ‘doing my own thing’ is suicidal. It may give me short-term pleasure in this life, but will generate an eternity of regret in the next.
This is why the Synod’s decision is so serious - it has made it valid for everyone to do what is ‘right in their own eyes’ and thus live lives that will be piling up God’s judgement on them in the future. The motion decries ‘conversion therapy’, but conversion is what Christianity is all about! If the ‘conversion therapy’ to which the motion refers was restricted to secular techniques and psychological therapies, then it would be different. Such activities are impotent to change a person’s nature. But it is clear from the private member’s motion (link at the top of these notes, point eight of the summary), that it is extended to include Christian teaching, counselling and prayer, which is a very different matter.
…and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are CONVERTED and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (Emphasis mine)
Repent therefore and be CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord
Acts 3:19 (Emphasis mine)
In fact New Testament conversion is not merely ‘tinkering about’ with what is already there in order to change it, but a completely new start as a new being:
Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God"… That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'
John 3:3, 6–7
having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
1 Peter 1:23
The old life is gone and a new one has begun:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
However, while the me that lives inside this body has been born again and is a new creation, the body itself has not:
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
The answer to the resulting conflict is not to let my body do whatever it fancies, but:
…thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Romans 7:25–8:1 I
The Christian life is a walk of faith - sola fide. Faith means believing something you can’t actually see. So if, after you are born again, your body continues to respond and desire in the way it did before (although many people do experience significant change in themselves after experiencing the new birth), the answer is not to say,
“Well, that’s the way God made me so it’s ok to carry on doing it,”
“I am now a new creation, so the old things are no longer relevant to me and I can trust the Holy Spirit within me to bring new life into my body and enable me to be pleasing to Him.”
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
How can we know what that new life looks like? By studying the scriptures! But the Archbishop of York says “word, word, word” is wrong! And it appears the Synod agrees with him, because they passed the motion. Calling the CoE ‘apostate’ may have sounded extreme; perhaps it is! However, as I believe I have shown here, the effect of this decision is to undermine, if not destroy, the basic foundation of the Christian faith. It is no longer being born again, but joining a religious club with rules that can be changed at the whim of its leaders to anything they fancy.
The Reformation was essential because the Roman Catholic Church adopted beliefs and practices that were not consistent with the teaching of the Bible. Now, the Church of England has done the same, and without a second Reformation, I fail to see how, long-term, it can have any relevance to the true Church of God.
This is not to say that everyone within the CoE is like this, of course. As a member of a local CoE I know most, if not all, of those with whom I fellowship are indeed born again, love the Lord, and follow the scriptures to the best of their understanding (as do I). But when the national organisation as a whole moves away from orthodox doctrine, then the writing is on the wall.
In quoting ‘The UK Council for Psychotherapy, The Royal College of General Practitioners and others’, which are secular organisations that therefore assume no genuine change can be brought into a person’s life by God, the motion is based on the belief that there is no ‘new birth’ or at least the new birth has no significant effect on one’s being, prayer does not change things, and membership of the CoE is entirely about intellectual assent to their doctrine.
For men will be lovers of themselves… having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
2 Timothy 3:2, 5
The Christian Attitude to Sexuality
To return to a part of the motion:
“Thus, our diversity as human beings is a reflection of God's creativity and something to celebrate. The biblical concern is not with what we are but how we choose to live our lives, meaning that differing sexual orientations and gender identities are not inherently sinful, nor mental health disorders to be “cured”.”
See Professor Lopez’s speech, describing his personal experience of the horrors of gay sex and some implications of the Synod’s decision. (Note: this contains explicit content)
Celebrating activity that God has clearly said is sinful, is thumbing the nose to the Almighty and saying we know better than He how we are made. If it is claimed that the scriptures making this so plain are not a part of His revelation to mankind, then this is a denial of the Creed and the founding principle of the CoE: sola scriptura.
It is also a straw-man argument, since the Bible is definitely concerned with what we are. (A straw-man argument is one that is based on a false premise.)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:9
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1 John 3:2–3
If different sexual activity from that condoned in the Bible is not inherently sinful, then why does the Bible say otherwise?
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality…
Of course, we must be careful here. It is not sinful to be tempted; and, likewise, it is not sinful to have, or be born with, desires that are contrary to God’s standards - we all experience these. We are not responsible for how we are born, but we are responsible for our behaviour. Sin is what we do, not what we are tempted to do. As the old hymn puts it:
“Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.”
I accept there may be a grey area here: while one would have thought it is fairly obvious if a body is either male or female, it is certainly the case that, mostly due to mutation, some people, sadly, are born with bodies not functioning the way they were originally designed. There are other causes, of course. Thalidomide is an obvious example of drug-induced damage, resulting in babies born blind, deaf, with malformed limbs, etc. This being the case, it would be surprising if sexuality was not also affected, and it may be that, in rare cases, clearly-defined sexuality is compromised as a result.
No-one would say being born blind or deaf is something to be celebrated - rather, every attempt is made to enable them to overcome it and live lives like the rest of us as far as is possible - so why should it be said for someone whose sexuality is not ‘normal’? In saying that, I mean ‘normal’ by Bible definition; i.e. God’s original design. Normal hearing hears all frequencies at all volumes for which God designed it to hear, with no problems such as tinnitus. Normal sight focuses clearly on all objects at all distances and in all lights for which God designed it. A normal sexual relationship is sexual union between one man and one woman within a married relationship, as God makes very clear in His word.
And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,' and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH' ?
Matthew 19:4–5 (Words in capital letters are quoted from the Old Testament)
It is no more sinful to be born LGBT than it is to be born physically disabled; but rather than pander to an aberration (be it physical or sexual) it is incumbent on us to offer as much love, help and support to the person as possible.
Of course, we are all born with imperfections, which are more or less apparent depending on their severity and our age. This is the result of living in an imperfect world - broken as a result of the sin that entered it. It has no effect on our worth or value as human beings, but simply means we are lumbered with having to cope with things that would not have been there had Adam, Eve and their descendants, never sinned.
Having said that, by concentrating mostly on ‘transgender’, the Synod is basing a major ruling on a tiny proportion of the population; but on the back of it is riding all the rest of the LBG tendencies and the door has been thrown open for every kind of sexual activity to be counted as acceptable - a concept totally foreign to the Bible.
The Archbishop of York said:
“If you’re going to serve the whole community please don’t limit our language…”
Another straw-man argument! The Church is not here to serve the whole community, but to serve God! It is no more here to serve the whole community than the League Against Cruel Sports is there to serve those who want to go bull fighting!
It is here to:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
It does not exist to serve Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists or any other non-Christians by enabling or encouraging them to continue in their false understanding. It does exist to show them love by, amongst other things, presenting the truth of the gospel in order that they have the opportunity to turn from darkness to light.
To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:9
The Church is not a social welfare club but a team of Christ’s ambassadors whose task it is to reconcile willing people to God:
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
You can’t do that by telling them that they can ignore the standard of life He expects and do their own thing. It is certainly the case that we should help the poor and needy…
They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
…but if the Church’s primary function of preaching the gospel is undermined by compromising truth, then it ceases to have any relevance. If ‘serve the whole community’ means sharing the truth of the gospel with every person, then this is fair enough: that is the work of the Church. But you can’t do that while at the same time compromising what God has clearly shown to us. Deliverance from the wrath to come…
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Romans 1:18; 9:22
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,
…is rendered meaningless if our language is restricted to validating every kind of human activity, be it good or bad (by Bible definitions). We are not slaves to the nature with which we were born, but Jesus offers freedom, which includes freedom from the wrath our behaviour will bring upon us.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
The Anglican Church is now saying you can do what you like in regard to sexuality because there is no wrath to come.
The LGBT community protest that without measures such as the synod has now accepted, they are being denied the opportunity to express the sexuality they were born with - so they are being unfairly singled out. In fact the reverse is the case! What about the unmarried, the widow or widower? Are they too not being denied their sexual expression, unless they are allowed to have extra-marital sex? What about the paedophile? What about the married couple both of whom desire sex with multiple partners? Should they be allowed to express their sexuality?
All of these activities are forbidden by God and even today there would be few in the Church of England who would promote such behaviour - although after this synod decision, it may not be long before they do! However, the LGBT people demanding their sexual expression are actually wanting special treatment - that they should be able to act contrary to scripture where other people may not.
Of course it is terrible that a person should be born with a make-up that means in order to be acceptable to God they must deny themselves and take up their cross in order to follow Him.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me… Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
Mark 8:34; 10:21
Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
However, some have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of God.
For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it."
I doubt this means literally, although some may have done so; but it certainly means taking a eunuch’s lifestyle - i.e. celibacy.
It would be wonderful if I could wave a magic wand and make it possible for them to be fulfilled sexually, just as it would be great if I could do this so a person born blind can see, or born deaf can hear. I can’t make these things possible, but I serve a God who can! And there are those who have experienced this miracle in regard to sexuality, sight and hearing. However, if the miracle does not happen for me for whatever reason, then the fight of faith begins and I am obliged to trust God for the enabling to live the way He wants regardless of the way I feel.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life
1 Timothy 6:12
However, all of this is in regard to the tiny minority whose sexuality has been compromised by the way they have been born. It is undoubtedly the case that some LGBT people are drawn to this lifestyle not because of the way they were born but the way they have been pushed during their lifetime. A perfect example is Professor Robert 'Bobby' Oscar Lopez’s speech, in which he describes how he was manipulated into a gay lifestyle by his upbringing.
A huge problem with this synod decision is that, not only will those who wish to leave the lifestyle be prevented from getting the prayerful help they need, but an atmosphere is created that is geared toward turning children and young people from a heterosexual life to something else. This is nothing short of child abuse!
Mike Davidson, Director of Core issues Trust, said:
"Yesterday Synod passed a motion where it banned conversion therapy... People who want to go the other way, who don't want to be gay, they're not allowed to be recognised, they can't have help.
"What we are doing is we are encouraging people to align their belief system and their body, in other words they will encourage their body to follow what they believe in their mind. Christians are about renewing their mind and following the mind of Christ."
Who am I to write about this topic? No-one! I am no intellectual and have no qualifications, other than the fact that I have read the entire Bible many times over (certainly into three figures), so I have a good idea what it teaches and I’m one of the foolish things that believes it. If you disagree with my understanding and are right, then I will apologise to the Lord when I see Him for thinking I could believe His word. If you are wrong, what will you reply when He asks,
“Why did you not believe what I so plainly said?”
I don’t want to write any more on this here, but I do go into more detail here on the subject. Instead, I conclude this section with the following passage written by the Apostle Peter:
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.
They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime.
They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
2 Peter 2:1–22
At the end of January 2018, the Church of England House of Bishops issued an update on ‘Welcoming Transgender people’. An extract follows here:
GENERAL SYNOD GS Misc 1178
An update on 'Welcoming Transgender People'
3. The House of Bishops welcomes and encourages the unconditional affirmation of trans people, equally with all people, within the Church, the body of Christ, and rejoices in the diversity of that one body, into which all Christians have been baptized by one Spirit.
6. …The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race, and any other characteristic, and our shared identity as followers of Jesus is the unity which makes all one in Christ (Galatians 3.27–28).
This update disturbs and alarms me considerably, since it places the reasoning of humans higher than the declared will of Almighty God.
You have wearied the LORD with your words; "Yet you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them,"…
As a committed Christian, acceptance of God’s will must always take precedence over any human ideas - including my own - which is why I spend time every day reading His word and asking Him to change my thinking into His. This page is the result of doing this for several decades.
Before I start I must make two things absolutely clear.
It must be clearly understood that everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, health, wealth, or whatever, should be welcome in any Christian Church. All should be free to live in the way they choose without fear as long as it is lawful and harms no-one else. At the same time, it is the responsibility of those within the Church to inform people what God has said, His requirements of them and the consequences should they choose to ignore this. Qualifications for membership of a church, though, is not the same thing as the welcome people should receive if they choose to visit one. Everything on this page must be understood in the light of this statement.
I am not singling out LGBT people or anyone else here: quite the reverse, I am making the Biblical point that everyone is of equal value and should be treated the same. The problem with the update is that it does single them out for special treatment. Let me illustrate in this way. There are two men: Bill with a natural tendency to want a sexual relationship with another man and Fred with a natural tendency to want a sexual relationship with many women. Is it legitimate for both of them to follow their natural desires?
I would be very surprised if any bishop would agree for Fred to do what he wants because the Bible expressly forbids it; but if it is ok for Bill to follow his desire, or for a person with a male body to act like a female, which are also contrary to scripture, why is it wrong for Fred?
The point here is that it is not so much a matter of sexuality, but of authority. If the Bible is God’s word and He has the right to determine how we act, and the Church of England creeds state both of these things as truth, then everyone should be treated exactly the same way. If, on the other hand, a special case is made for certain people to follow their desires, then it is only right that everyone else should be able to follow theirs; and we end up with a situation where everyone is their own god, choosing their own way and God’s word is effectively made irrelevant.
This takes us back to the first temptation of Satan:
“Has God said? Not really - you can have your own way, do your own thing and be like God.”
Genesis 3:1–6 (My summary)
It is the original sin repeated all over again, albeit over a different issue, and has the same result - it leads to disobeying God and being cut off from Him.
The first point to be made is that the above update contradicts the Church of England’s own teaching. Amongst the confessions authorised by them is:
God our Father,
long-suffering, full of grace and truth,
you create us from nothing and give us life.
You give your faithful people new life in the water of baptism.
You do not turn your face from us,
nor cast us aside.
We confess that we have sinned
against you and our neighbour.
We have wounded your love AND MARRED YOUR IMAGE IN US.
Restore us for the sake of your Son,
and bring us to heavenly joy,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have wandered and strayed from your ways
like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
For behaving just as we wish,
without thinking of you;
Father, forgive us:
There can be only one reason why the claim is being made in the update that regardless of all our “characteristics” (to quote item 6 of the update) we are all in God’s image: it is in order to say all of the sexual desires and inclinations of people who are in God’s image must therefore be valid. In total contrast to this, the above confessions state that we have distorted God’s image in us; we have followed the desires of our own hearts, which is the result of wandering and straying from God’s ways; and we have been behaving as we wish without thinking of the Father. If we have marred God’s image in us by our sin, it is impossible to know what His image is like by looking at ourselves. It is also impossible to discern God’s original design for us, since we have moved away from it.
Item 6 in the update quotes Galatians 3.27–28. For context I include the previous verse below:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
What does it mean “to put on Christ?” Pointing out it was a common expression in early Greek writing, Albert Barnes, in his ‘Notes on the Bible’, puts it this way in his note on Romans 13:14 - a verse that tells us we must make no provision for what our bodies want us to do. I quote him here not particularly as any kind of authority, but because he puts it so well.
"So the Greek writers speak of putting on Plato, Socrates, etc. meaning to take them as instructors, to follow them as disciples. (See Schleusner.) Thus, to put on the Lord Jesus means to take him as a pattern and guide, to imitate his example, to obey his precepts, to become like him, etc. In “all” respects the Lord Jesus was unlike what had been specified in the previous verse. He was temperate, chaste, pure, peaceable, and meek; and to “put him on” was to imitate him in these respects.
Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
We can only be “all one in Christ Jesus” when we all have put on Christ Jesus. It is a contradiction in someone claiming to have put on Christ who, at the same time, is living a lifestyle contrary to His teaching. There is an enormous difference between accepting the Bible truth that all humans are eligible for the offer of salvation, and distorting this to mean that everyone can accept the offer without needing to be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Because I was so alarmed by this departure from orthodoxy, I wrote a letter to two of the Bishops and, with the exception of a few minor additions, it can be seen below. The replies I received and my comments on them are here. To distinguish between the two, their replies are indented in black text, and my comments made for the sake of this page are not indented and are in red text. The sections containing the correspondence start and finish with a dotted line.
The Bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). How can people who have come short of God's glory be in His image? This is a contradiction. To put it more strongly: is a paedophile in God's image? Is a murderer in God's image? Is a thief in God's image? Since God is holy and righteous, never changes and has said these things are wrong, it would be blasphemous to claim that a person following his own nature and doing these things is doing so because he is in God's image. This is precisely what Romans 1:23 condemns:
"and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…"
The reason they made this error was "because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:21).
Only three people have been entirely in God's image: Adam, Eve and Jesus Christ:
Colossians 1:15 "He is the image of the invisible God;"
Hebrews 1:3 "who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person."
When Adam and Eve sinned they fell short of that image, and ever since, the image of God has been distorted in the whole of humanity. God's image can still be seen in us; but, to borrow Paul's phrase, it is through a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12) because the shadow of sin in all of us hinders His perfection from being seen.
While there may be some controversy in things John Calvin said, it is incontrovertible that he was a leading theologian in the early years of the Reformation who fully accepted the authority of the Bible and had an intimate grasp of its teaching. He said “It cannot be doubted that when Adam lost his first estate he became alienated from God. Wherefore, although we grant that the image of God was not utterly effaced and destroyed in him, it was, however, so corrupted, that anything which remains is fearful deformity; and, therefore, our deliverance begins with that renovation which we obtain from Christ, who is, therefore, called the second Adam, because he restores us to true and substantial integrity.” Calvin, John. The Institutes of the Christian Religion (pp. 93-94). Kindle Edition. Location 3679.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion can be downloaded from here: Kindle version.
In fact, nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are in God's image now at this present time. In the Old Testament, there are only two references to man being in His image: Genesis 1:26–27 tells us He created man in His image originally; and in Genesis 9:6 He commands the death penalty for murder because when He created man, it was in His image.
In the only reference in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 11:3–7, Paul says (bearing in mind He was writing for a first-century, Middle-Eastern readership) that men should dress like men and women like women because they were created in God's image, thus echoing Deuteronomy 22:5 - something the House of Bishops should take seriously instead of pretending it doesn't matter. Otherwise, the entire Bible teaching on the subject is that our salvation is in order to change us from what we are presently into the image of God:
"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren"
"And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man"
1 Corinthians 15:49
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord"
2 Corinthians 3:18
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,"
If we are being changed now and are going to be changed into His full image in the future, as these scriptures so clearly teach, it is very plain that we are not completely in His image at the present time!
But how can we be ‘being transformed into the same image’ (2 Corinthians 3:18) if we refuse to change? Romans says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:1–2)
How can our mind be renewed if we refuse to change it?
This being the case, it is obvious that we cannot know precisely from looking at ourselves what God's image is like, or what is His intention for human nature. Conversely, we can see that throughout the human race, in our broken world, every part of our physical bodies has been damaged by disease, deformity, etc., in someone, somewhere. Every aspect of the mind can be seen to be damaged in someone, somewhere. Why should our sexuality be any different? God has made abundantly clear in both Old and New Testaments what He expects in this regard, and to celebrate (or “rejoice in,” as the update puts it) divergence from His standard in this would be like celebrating blindness, deafness, lameness, insanity, or any other ailment, be it physical, mental or spiritual - we may celebrate the way people overcome these difficulties, but we certainly don't celebrate that they have them.
This is in no way to suggest that blindness, or any other physical ailment, is related to sinfulness. I use it as a simple example demonstrating that we are not the way God originally designed; but in the future eternity, for those who love and serve God, there will be no such departure from His perfection.
It is no-one's fault the way they are born; but we are all responsible for our own behaviour. It is sad if some people have sexual urges that God says would be sinful to follow, because this makes it impossible for them to express those urges if they want to please Him; but it is just as sad for a person born blind (for example), who finds it impossible to be able to see. It is not sinful to be born with a body, mind, spirit or sexuality that is different from God's perfect design, because we can't help the way we are born. However, we don't take our standards for the way we live from ourselves, but from our Creator, and it is certainly sinful to act contrary to the way God has spoken. Indeed, He has specifically said that we must not do what is right in our own eyes (Num 15:39; Deut 12:8; Ps 36:1–4; Ps 81:11–12; Prov 3:7; 12:15; 16:2; 21:2; 26:5, 12; Prov 30:12; Is 5:21; 53:6 with 1 Pet 2:25; Rom 3:10–18;).
Because a person is born blind, this does not mean God has always wanted some people to be born blind - it means they have been born in a world blighted by sin and Satan, and they are the innocent victims. This is why Jesus came into the world - to enable us to rise above the way we were born and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, live the way He wants us to live. What else did Jesus mean when He said we should take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), if not this? Paul, after giving a long list of wrong ways people were born, then says:
"And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God"
1 Corinthians 6:11
In other words they were like that before, but now they have been changed and are like it no longer. He also points out that without this change taking place,
"…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Corinthians 6:9
It would appear that the transforming power of Jesus Christ through His work on the cross, which changes us all from death to life and from darkness to light (i.e. the heart of Christianity), is being ignored today and the Church treated like some club where, as long as people sign up to be members, they can continue to live in the way they have always done because no inner change has taken place in them or is necessary.
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
The scriptures on sexuality are clear and well known, so it would be superfluous to repeat them here, other than to state that both Old and New Testaments make very plain that sexual activity between two people is only valid when the participants are husband (man) and wife (woman).
e.g. Leveticus 18:22; Romans 1:26–29; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7, 10
This is supported by science, which tells us that females have an XX pair of sex chromosomes, and males an XY pair. Medical science may be able to mimic the female form in a male and vice versa, to some degree; but the XY or XX chromosomes in every cell of the body cries out that a person is male/female, and no one can do anything to change this. If a person's mind is at odds with their body, then instead of spending huge amounts of money on expensive surgery and a life-time of drugs that the NHS can ill afford in order to try to do the impossible and make the body match the mind, it would be far better, and fully scriptural, to work on mental health in changing the mind to match the body.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
God promises healing for all our ailments, be they physical, mental, spiritual, or sexual; but if we do not experience healing ourselves (for whatever reason), then like Abraham and the Old Testament saints we wait in faith:
"…not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth"
Since, every week, bishops declare in the creed that God has spoken through the scriptures, the entirety of which is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), after issuing this update they will presumably tell Him He got it wrong on this issue when they stand before Him at the end of their lives!
On the Church of England web page it says,
God has revealed himself through the Scriptures.
The actual wording of the Nicene Creed is:
“He has spoken through the prophets.”
Since the part of the Old Testament relevant to the topic of sexuality comes from the prophet Moses, this is clearly included in the above statement. The notion often touted in order to avoid the obvious, is that the prophets didn’t always get it right and some of what they have written is their own ideas and not God’s. This is obvious nonsense! It really means, “If you don’t like what you read you can make up your own mind regarding what you think God really meant and ignore it!” See the sections on 2 Timothy, below, for more on this.
By their January 2018 update on 'Welcoming Transgender People', far from encouraging faith, the House of Bishops has capitulated to human reasoning, and consigned those unfortunate enough to be affected by this to a life that is contrary to what God has so clearly told us to lead. The only reason the Church of England exists is because of the Reformation that was based on sola scriptura - by scripture alone. They have now abandoned sola scriptura for human notions based on what the Bible calls the sinful nature/the flesh (e.g. Romans chapters 6, 7 & 8), and thus repeated the identical error of the Roman Catholic Church that precipitated the Reformation 500 years ago, albeit on a different issue. Unless they turn back from this, they have made it impossible for Bible-believing Christians to remain under the umbrella of their leadership.
I sincerely hope and pray you will do all in your power to have this directive by the House of Bishops reversed and brought back into line with God’s word, on which our Christian faith is based.
The first bishop replied by letter, the key parts being as follows:
Thank you for your letter of 29th January about the house of Bishops statement welcoming transgender people. I can tell you have worked hard on it and thank you for your labours.
The House of Bishops of the Church of England is responding to a debate at General Synod last July in which, by a large majority, those who are transgendered were welcomed within the life of the Church.
I have had the privilege of meeting with a small group of Christians who are transgender. They were not at all as you describe but were prayerful and morally serious people. They, too, are made in the image of God but, like all of us, they were sinners in need of forgiveness. As people who have been baptised they were restored in the image of God.
Since everything I wrote to the bishops is included in the section headed ‘My Letter’, I think you will see that I did not ‘describe’ transgender people in any way!
All of us are ‘in Christ’ not because we are perfect but because God loves us. Those who are transgender are able to respond to this love for the repentance and forgiveness of sins just like the rest of us. That is why they are welcomed in the life of the Church.
I realise you are unlikely to agree with me but I wanted to set out the reasons why the Church of England has accepted this important point of principle.
According to the third paragraph above, baptism restores God’s image in us. This contradicts the scriptures quoted earlier showing that it does not!
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
1 Corinthians 15:49
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18.
They show we are at this present time being changed into His image, a change which is not completed until after this life is ended. Bearing in mind the Bishop will no doubt be thinking of infant ‘baptism’, the idea that before ‘baptism’ a baby is not in Gods image, but afterwards he or she is fully in God’s image for the whole of life, has no support either in scripture or logic. See below for more on this. If you wish to go there now by clicking on the hyperlink you can RETURN TO TEXT here.
I think all Christians would agree, as stated in the third paragraph, transgender people are exactly the same as the rest of us in that we all can respond to God’s love, repent and receive forgiveness for our sins. But repentance means a change of mind and a change of behaviour; so if we continue to live in the same way we have always done, we have not repented. As previously stated, God’s standards for our sexual behaviour are plain and clear in the Bible; so if people are being told they are welcome members of the Church and they do not need to change a lifestyle that is declared in the Bible to be wrong, they are being given a false sense of security. In other words this is ‘another gospel’.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
God wants us all to come to the repentance to which the bishop refers; but if we refuse to repent (change our behaviour) what is the alternative? According to the above scripture, we perish! We cannot know what is correct behaviour by looking at ourselves, and we do not have the right to make up our own standards of morality or conduct: only God can do this, and it is He to whom we all have to give account of our lives. What I think is unimportant. What He thinks is of supreme importance, because His view of you will determine your eternal destiny. Please do not listen to me, or a bishop, or anyone else; but pay very careful heed to what your Maker has said is His expectation of you.
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
(St Augustine, Sermons)
The other bishop replied by email with a rather more reasonable response:
I thank you for your thoughts and comments on the subject and hope this response will suffice.
I do not intend to write in detail, as you have done, about the matter. However I feel the important part of the Bishop’s statement was that of welcome, to all people. It is important to understand that most people come to faith in Jesus Christ today via many a roundabout route, and the pattern mostly we see is that individuals belong first, they then believe, and then they behave. Therefore a church which does not reflect Christ, in welcoming any of those who might come to him, is not following the way I and many read the Gospels.
Jesus, spoke a lot about behaviour (mainly the behaviour of the religious), however this was after he had warmly welcomed those who came to him. Condemning particular groups of people is not helpful. It should be our hope that those whom he welcomes, come to believe, and then align their behaviour with a lifestyle compatible to that set out in Scripture. That then becomes the important part of the churches’ teaching ministry.
It is good that we are all grappling with modern day dilemma’s and our reading of the Word of God and we need to continue to do this. We have to admit however it is not all black and white, with the Bible being less clear on 21st century issues than some early church ones. Translation between the two has its difficulties.
I also do believe that personal identity and medical science also have their part to play in how people live out their lives. As I am sure you would agree, our identity firstly in Christ (as unconditionally loved by him) should be the prime message, how that is lived out is a matter of both integrity and nurture.
Thank you again for writing and thinking this through.
At first glance this appears to be perfectly valid - as the old saying goes, you can’t clean fish until you’ve caught them. However, when people are told that in their present condition they are in God’s image, welcomed, unconditionally affirmed and the church rejoices in the diversity their presence brings, while at the same time giving no hint whatsoever that future change may be expected of them, then how could there ever be any motivation to change? Indeed, rather than bringing them into a place where they can change, it is accepting into the life of the church philosophies and practices that are totally contrary to New Testament teaching and the thin end of yet one more wedge to move the Church away from what it once was.
There is a very good reason we are told:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." Therefore "COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU." "I WILL BE A FATHER TO YOU, AND YOU SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY.
2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (The use of capital letters is not mine, but as found in the New King James Bible, to show the words are quotes from the Old Testament.)
For this reason, in regard to sexual purity, Paul writes:
But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 5:11
In the passage from which the above verse comes, Paul directs the Corinthians to take action with regard to someone who had been sexually immoral. But in his second letter he then says:
This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
2 Corinthians 2:6–8
So clearly their action had the desired effect. From this we can see that far from allowing unbiblical behaviour in the hope that it might change sometime in the future, it needs to be cut off at the start in order to prevent it from spreading and to bring the person to a place of repentance as soon as possible. However you view the specifics of this case (e.g. different age, different culture, etc.), the underlying principle is clear and the Church ignores it at its peril. Every club and organisation in existence has its own rules and expectation of behaviour, and if anyone wishes to become a member they know they have to conform - otherwise the ethos of the organisation becomes diluted and ultimately evolves into something very different from the way it started out. So how much more should this be the case for the Church?
Another point made in the email was that the Bible is
“less clear on 21st century issues than some early church ones.”
Human nature does not change, however, and while the accumulation of scientific knowledge has made possible technology not previously seen, human behaviour has remained the same, as can be observed from the fact that the particular issue with which we are now dealing is reported in the earliest books of the Bible.
Indeed, it is common knowledge that all sorts of sexual practises were followed in Rome at the time of the New Testament Church. It is of particular note that the book of Romans was the second longest letter Paul wrote to a church: 433 verses, 9,422 words (the longest is 1 Corinthians: 437 verses, 9,462 words. Details here). Yet in such a long letter, after his initial greeting, the first thing he wrote about was the importance of the gospel (in two verses) because of God’s wrath against those who choose to go their own way. E.g.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
Romans 1:18, 21-22, 26-29
So far from this issue being a 21st century one and not around in the first century, it was the first thing Paul talked about when writing to those who lived in Rome – a society where doubtless the church was being pressurised to accept it in the same way that we are today. Paul didn’t say…
“They are all in the image of God so they should be able to do whatever they want”
“God’s wrath will fall on those who do such things unless they change.”
What I find most disturbing in the replies from the two bishops is that the central point of my letter - the Bible teaches none of us are exactly in the image of God - was totally ignored. Yet this was given in the update as the validating factor in their conclusion.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)
One excuse to avoid this clear teaching of Paul on the authority of scripture has been to claim that although the scriptures were inspired of God, or God-breathed, as Paul says here, the writers of the Old Testament books sometimes either misheard what He was saying to them or simply included their own ideas; and therefore what we now have is not necessarily entirely God’s word.
As I mention in several pages on this website, one clear clue to show if unscriptural ideas are being promoted, is where we see the technique:
When the Bible says, “X” it doesn’t mean “X”, it means “Y!”
The attitude described in the previous paragraph is another example of this, and is easily dismissed.
When Paul says, “All Scripture,” to what is he referring? It could only be one thing: the 39 books of what we know as the Old Testament, written on scrolls held in the Jewish temple and the Jewish synagogues all around Israel. (If anyone can come up with a feasible alternative to this, I would be very interested to hear it; because after racking my brains I cannot think of one!) He was talking to Timothy about the things he could read in those scrolls; and he said that every single thing he read in them came from God and is profitable, etc. The Greek word used there is theopneustos:
Θεόπνευστος; theopneustos; theh-op'-nyoo-stos; From G2316 and a presumed derivative of G4154; divinely breathed in: - given by inspiration of God. Total KJV occurrences: 1
Strong’s Greek Dictionary
The word ‘scripture’ obviously refers to what is written on the scrolls that Timothy could go and read. All of this is so obvious, it seems superfluous to write it down here; but in order to counter the ludicrous idea that we cannot rely on everything we read in the Old Testament it is necessary. So what it means is that Timothy could absolutely rely on everything he read in those scrolls, because they had been given by God; and I know of no-one who would seriously claim that our Old Testament differs in any significant way from those scrolls.
So, for example, taking the scriptures as literal truth, Paul says it was according to the scriptures that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures He was raised the third day, and we should hold fast to the word.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
If it is claimed that by the word “scripture” Paul did not mean what Timothy could read in the scrolls but what God originally told the writers, then it would follow that when Paul said all scripture was God breathed, he was actually saying everything that God breathed/inspired was God-breathed/inspired! This is tautology: saying the same thing twice. There is no point in telling us that all God-inspired scripture was God-inspired, because that is self-evident. It is like saying everything that is true is true; or everything that is white is white.
If it is claimed that by the word “scripture” Paul did not mean all 39 books of the Old Testament, but just the Torah - the first five books - then this is no help either since it is the teaching within the Torah that is at issue here!
When Paul said all scripture is God-breathed, he was referring to the scripture that was available to Timothy there and then - in other words the whole of what we know as the Old Testament - not merely what God originally said when they were first written down. He didn’t say,
“It was the original scriptures that were God-breathed, not what you now have available.”
This interpretation of the verse destroys the laws of grammar and makes nonsense of language. Grammar has laws so we can understand what is being said; but if they are ignored, as they are here, then no-one can be sure about anything.
On the other hand, if Paul really did mean that what God has originally given had been obscured to some degree by the writers, then he was here giving Timothy a false sense of security and making him vulnerable to deception, since it is very clear that Timothy would have understood from it that everything he could read in the scrolls was dependable and true. No, Paul would have written something like…
“All scripture was originally given by God, but what we now have was not written down with total accuracy, so you must be careful to discern what is truth and what is not,”
…if that is what he meant. Since he did not say this, or anything like it, we can be sure that the scriptures to which he was referring are totally reliable.
All of this means that whether the topic is sexuality, theistic evolution, or anything else, we can be sure when we read the Old Testament we are reading the revelation of God.
Perhaps it should be pointed out that it is called ‘Old’ Testament for a very good reason: there is now a New Testament (or covenant) that has superseded it. This does not mean that anything in the Old Testament is untrue, but rather that through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, things have changed and we now have a different means of relating to our Maker. It is in the 27 books of the New Testament that we discover how we do this and how we should live today. For example, animal sacrifice in the Old Testament is superseded by the sacrifice of Jesus and no longer appropriate. So within the entirety of the Bible new revelation can supersede old revelation, and in the section 'Understanding the Bible', below, are some pointers regarding the way we should read it.
I hope I have made it clear on this page that my primary concern is entirely that of being true to the scriptures that God has given to us to guide us in our lives.
Regarding LGBT, in my view they have the perfect right and freedom to live their own lives entirely the way they wish. It would be very wrong for anyone to try to force them to do otherwise. However, there are two very important issues on this.
They do not have the right to try to force their way of life on other people, and particularly not on children, who in their early years may have feelings and tendencies very different from the way they would want to be in their adulthood. So giving children gender-altering medication, for example, is nothing less than child abuse. This type of activity should be reserved solely for adults.
As a Christian, my responsibility to everyone is to try as best I can to show them what God has said He expects of us. This is the primary purpose of the Church. ‘You reap what you sow’ is one of the fundamental laws of the universe, and those who chose to sow rebellion against their Creator in their lives will reap His anger in eternity.
The most unloving thing I could do would be to withhold this information from my fellow human beings. This is the reason for my website and I pray that some people may come into a personal relationship with their Maker as a result of seeing it. There is more here on the steps to take to begin that relationship.
Above all, though, I pray that a huge miracle will take place to turn the Church of England back to its scriptural roots, so that it can give the kind of Christian leadership our nation badly needs.
Understanding the Bible
According to 2 Timothy 4:4 people will turn from truth to myth, or fables; but we can have confidence in God’s word to give us the truth because it can be trusted completely.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
Like God, the original documents are inerrant:
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
However, we do need to accept it in the way it was given.
Much of this section comes from a talk, ‘Are there errors in the Bible’, by David Wells at Canford Magna Parish Church, with some bit added by me here and there.
The difficult passages are not difficult because of errors, but because of our imperfect understanding. It was written by 40 different authors over 1,500 years, living in different times and cultures, using different styles and perspectives, for different audiences and purposes. So there will be differences in what we read; but difference does not mean contradiction. If the answer to what we do not understand now is not presently available, it does not mean the answer does not exist - it simply means we do not know what it is at the moment.
At a time when people thought the earth was flat and there was no scientific evidence to show differently, they would have dismissed God’s word had it said otherwise, just as today evolutionists dismiss it because it contradicts their wrong belief about the origins of the universe. So God gave His word in a form that they could understand, without compromising on truth, in the same way He took the form of a man, something within our experience, so we could understand what He is like
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
John 1:14; 14:9
So when Isaiah tells us that God sits above the circle of the earth, this is a clear hint as to the truth that the world is a three-dimensional globe, and of course, nowhere in the Bible does it specifically say that the earth is flat; but we can’t expect the Bible to include scientific facts that were unknown at the time it was written.
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth…
However, today’s evolutionists have no excuse for their beliefs, since there is ample scientific evidence confirming the Genesis account of creation.
One accusation of error has been when Jesus said the mustard seed was the smallest seed on earth; but He was speaking in the context of the community in which He lived and to them it was the smallest seed, and so was a valid example of the point He was making. We must take into account the context in which this took place.
It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth;
We should not take the attitude that the Bible is guilty of error unless it is proven innocent! We should assume it means what it says, just as we believe that when it says on a can of beans it contains beans, we believe it does.
We shouldn’t confuse our fallible interpretation with God’s infallible revelation. It is infallible and irrevocable and will always be fulfilled. Our laws may change, but God’s laws do not.
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
We must understand the context. For example says there is no God; but when you read the context you see this is what a fool says.
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
The authors had different styles and backgrounds. E.g. Luke was a doctor, Peter was a fisherman.
A partial report in the Bible is not a false report. It cannot give every detail of every incident because it would be too long otherwise. Nor are different reports of the same incident contradictory and therefore in error. When two witnesses report on what they have seen they will each have noticed different things, so their stories will be different. For example,
Matthew mentioned one angel at the tomb; John talked about two angels. Each mentioned what had been seen.
And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Of course, it was one angel rolled the stone away and told the women to tell the other disciples; it was after this that there were two angels present in the tomb.
The Bible does not approve all it records. Everything contained in the Bible is not commended by the Bible. Otherwise murder, adultery, theft, etc. would all be considered acceptable, since they are reported there. It reveals real life and at the same time tells us how we should live.
We must also be aware of the literary devices used. There is poetry in the Psalms, Jesus used parables, Paul used allegories. There are many metaphors. Using figures of speech is not a mistake or an error; but they mustn’t be taken literally. Psalm 36:7 talks about being under the shadow of God’s wings, but this does not mean God is a feathered bird! This is a literary device and obviously should not be understood literally.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
On the other hand we must not try to avoid the clear teaching of the Bible by pretending a literal account is poetry, metaphor or allegory. For example, the early chapters of Genesis are not poetry but are written in exactly the same historical style as the rest of the book. They are clearly intended by the writer to be taken literally, as indeed Jesus and the New Testament writers accepted them. While the food laws and the regulations about sabbaths and festivals in the Torah were literal requirements for Israel, under the New Covenant they do not apply to Christians; but the moral laws are repeated in the New Testament and therefore do still apply to us.
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,
So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?"
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 4:1-5
Things are either [a] Biblical, [b] unbiblical or [c] non-biblical. They either [a] come from the Bible, [b] violate a scriptural principle, or [c] are not found in the Bible but do not necessarily contradict it (so air-conditioning is not in the Bible, but it is not contrary to Bible principles).
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
The best study on the Bible I have read can be found here, although it is rather long. Well worth reading, though.
This is a separate issue, but briefly:
It makes no more sense to call splashing a few drops of water on a baby’s head “baptism” as it would to wipe a wet flannel over one’s face and call it having a bath, or to paddle in the sea and call it going for a swim!
Baptism follows the new birth - it is not the cause of it. It is the New Covenant equivalent of circumcision in the Old Covenant, and just as it is impossible to circumcise a baby before it is born, so baptism can only follow the new birth.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
An Old Testament baby was not Jewish because it was circumcised, but was circumcised because it was Jewish; a person is not born again because they are baptised, but baptised because they are born again.
We are saved by grace through faith, not works, and infant baptism is works - works undertaken by others outside of the will, choice and decision of the one being ‘baptised’.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
The order in the New Testament is always “repent and be baptised,” never “be baptised and then repent” e.g.
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Children are not holy because they have been ‘baptised’, but because they have a Christian parent and there is no New Testament example of a baby being ‘baptised’ or of believers being told to ‘baptise’ babies.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
1 Corinthians 7:14
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked ‘ESV’ The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
ESV Text Edition: 2016 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.