A request for clarity from the Bihops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, as to the position of this church on some current issues in the Anglican Communion sign now

A plea for clarity on the position and teaching of our Faith from the Bishops of Southern Africa following the statement issued by the Synod of Bishops in February 2011.

Dear Bishops

Statement can be found here: http://archbishop.anglicanchurchsa.org/2011/02/synod-of-bishops-statement-leadership.html

Our hope is that we will be heard as a group of people within the province whose hearts and minds are linked with the majority of Anglicans in the Anglican Communion worldwide in a concern for the future of the Church we love and serve. We perceive the Anglican Church of SA to be more inclined to align itself with the dying (revisionist and liberal) minority by its failure to indicate that it has taken seriously the concerns of the orthodox majority.

We write to you because as Bishops you are entrusted with the responsibility to guard the faith which by our founding documents expresses a commitment to Biblical orthodoxy, an understanding that God has revealed himself to human beings through his Word both written and Living. We hope that you share with us the conviction that to take Gods word seriously is to take him seriously; and that to pick and choose from scripture what to accept and what to reject is to take Gods place and play god, becoming lawless (1 John 3: 8) in his eyes. This is at the heart of our concern for the church that we do not find ourselves irrelevant to God himself because we lead a church where he is irrelevant to us.

We will limit our comments to three sections of your Statement:

The uncritical endorsement of Archbishop Thabos attendance at the meeting in Dublin representing a minority of Anglicans in the world is a failure to acknowledge the depth of the concern of those who have withdrawn. Their reasons are clear and yet there is within your statement no recognition of the legitimacy of them. This communicates to us both a lack of awareness of the real issues facing the Communion and also aligns us with a group that lacks any will to resolve the fragmentation in any way that could be called godly. The style of leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury is akin to holding a committee meeting on the Titanic as it sinks. It is chiefly frustration over this inaction which had led to the withdrawal of the orthodox.

As you will know, sexuality is the touchstone in this Anglican fragmentation. The issue is not sexuality per se, it is that it reflects an attitude towards God and his word which we have described above. It reflects a rebellion against our creator and his ways which he gives to us because of his love for us, for our protection from our sinful selves. We too agree with the Bishops that sexuality is not a dividing issue in itself, but a leadership in the church which chooses to play at being god is a much more serious issue.

Care of people which encourages in them in behaviour which is unacceptable to God (which the Bible describes as sin) is not a pastoral role that God can endorse. The biblical position for godly expression of sexuality is only within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman for life. It concerns us deeply that our Bishops find it hard to call sin, sin. We are answerable to God not to a human-centred ideology. This Synod statement describes itself as the leaders speaking. In this area, godly pastoral leadership for the church is lacking. It matters not what the legal position may be in the seven states in which our Province is represented. Gods standards call all laws into question where they do not line up with his.

We raise this though it is not a specifically biblical concern but because one of our orthodox brothers has seemingly been targeted by his bishop because of his biblical convictions and practice. In the context of a statement which purports to be one by the Bishops attempting to give a lead to the church (which we commend because the people have looked, often in vain, for exactly this), this is an area where pastorally the bishops have failed manifestly. Dhenis Stafford whose life and parish have been devastated by the abuse of power by his bishop, sent to the archbishop a complaint under Canon 37 on the 10 December. To date there has not even been an acknowledgment of the receipt of this, let alone any action having been taken regarding the situation. This is a serious failure in pastoral leadership.

Without in any way supporting the actions of Clifford Felix, this situation too would never have got out of hand in the manner it did, had pastoral leadership been exercised. Again, an appeal had been made to the archbishop and instead of a pastoral response to the allegations, whether or not they had any merit is not at issue, this man found himself suspended by a counter charge from the Bishop about whom the allegations had been made. Proactive pastoral leadership could have saved the church, and all the individuals who have been paraded before the world, much pain.

Thank for taking the time to read this. We realise that to take a courageous biblical stand is costly in our day, but we look to our Bishops to guard the life of the Church and assure you that we will pray for you as you do.

Yours sincerely
On behalf of Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans SA

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