‘Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.’ Jude 3
Internationally, developments within the Anglican Communion are happening at a faster pace than probably at any time in modern church history since the Reformation. A few minutes on websites such as Virtue Online or Anglican Ink or Anglican Mainstream will open your eyes to the speed at which change is occurring. There you will find articles with such titles as ‘Mission in post-Christian Britain’, ‘Irrevocably redefining marriage: Episcopal Church deletes the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from marriage liturgy’ and ‘Kenyan Primate condemns US and Canadian churches for promoting false gospel.’
All denominations and churches worldwide are having to face the challenges presented by the new revisionist teaching. Anglicanism, however, seems to be at the forefront of the assault on historic Christian ethics and doctrine. The world’s values are steamrolling over the Church and its leadership especially in the West appears to be crushed. Indeed, one could say that 500 years later we are in need of a new Reformation, where like our forebears we return to a diligent study of the Scriptures to rediscover not just what a Christian lifestyle looks like but how to interact with those who deny the ethical teachings of Jesus and his apostles.
Thankfully, in the mercy of God, the Anglican churches in the Global South are better prepared to defend ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). Burgeoning Anglican churches in Africa and Asia, led by courageous, intelligent bishops, archbishops, clergy, academics and well-informed lay people are prioritising the gospel throughout our Communion. The Gafcon movement – made up of tens of millions of orthodox Anglicans – is addressing the current widespread false teaching by planting new churches and deploying faithful workers into the most needy corners of the world. While we live in very challenging times they also present extremely exciting opportunities to reform, renew and revive God’s church. We should be mindful of the worldwide situation and prayerfully get involved in supporting brothers and sisters overseas who remain faithful to Christ, often at great cost.
For seven days this month I plan to be in Jerusalem for the international Gafcon conference. 2,000 delegates will be there representing just about every province in the Anglican Communion. The Church of Ireland will be represented by 30 delegates, lay and ordained, including our own bishop. This is the third such gathering in ten years – but my first time. I hope to be able to bring back an encouraging report of church growth, sound theological education, Spirit-filled evangelism and faithful discipleship which makes the world stop and think of Christ again.
Sincerely in Christ