jQuery Slider

You are here

Has the curtain fallen on the Church of England?

Has the curtain fallen on the Church of England?


By Bishop Julian Dobbs
March 13, 2023

I was born in the closing years of the 1960's in South Auckland, New Zealand. Baptized at St. Peter's-on-the-Hill just before I was three months old. I would later personally acknowledge, as was the custom in those days, that I believed the faith of the Church of England.

At my baptism, using the liturgy of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer 1662, my godparents promised that I would renounce the devil and all his works, constantly believe God's holy word and obediently keep his commandments. This was the faith of the Church of England into which I was baptized and would later claim as my own at my confirmation before the bishop.

Believing God's word and obediently keeping his commandment was not only the faith of the Church of England in the 1960's, but it was also the faith of the English reformers of the 16th century -- men and women who would later come to be my heroes, on whose shoulders I would stand as a Anglican bishop. Courageous laity and clergy who would give their lives in defense of the gospel once for all entrusted to the saints. Men like Hugh Latimer, who was more concerned for the King of Kings than he was for the King of England.

Like us in our day, the bishops of the English Church such as Latimer, had personal, cultural, political and ecclesiastical pressures which weighed heavily upon them to conform to the intense influences of loud and powerful voices. And yet, even when threatened with the flames of martyrdom, they would not capitulate and abandon the faith but constantly believed God's holy word and kept his commandments.

Teaching the Holy Scriptures and defending the faith is a weighty and holy responsibly of a bishop. At his consecration, the bishop-elect is asked, "Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's word, and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?"

Having been personally asked that question at my own consecration and finding myself a bishop living in a culture that is losing its Christian bearings and is surrounded by loud voices within the church and outside, voices that call for a modernized faith and a sympathetic reorganizing of religious belief to satisfy the woke agenda of the pursuit of self, I know something of the pressure to sympathize with the painful cries of people who feel they have no place in a church that believes the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God.

I have always considered the Church to be generously inclusive. Christ himself commissioned his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. This 'great commission' is to include all ethnic groups, no one is to be left out of hearing the good news about God's love and Christ's reconciling work on the cross. This was our Lord's commission to his disciples at the very beginning and this remains the commission of Christ to this day.

As Christ is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit draws men, women, young people and children to Himself. The Apostle Paul would later write, faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.[1]

The word of Christ, the good news about Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior, was entrusted to the Church by God Himself. Being entrusted with something does not give you the liberty to change it, alter it or amend it. When you are entrusted with something, you become a steward of that which has been entrusted to you. Therefore, no matter how much pressure comes from a culture, or a movement, or a government, or a group of bishops, it is not lawful for the church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's word written.[2]

The bishops of the Church of England who voted to support church blessings of same sex civil marriages in the prayers of 'Love and Faith' are asking our Lord to bless sin -- something God will never do. Furthermore, in supporting the use of these prayers, the bishops are cloaking sexual actions which the bible says will result in eternal separation from God and presenting them as holy, precious and worthy of the name of Christ. Such actions can never be justified.

When bishops act in this way, they are shepherds of the worst kind, described by Ezekiel as those who have disregarded the weak, the sick and those who have strayed. Jesus spoke of such bishops as false prophets dressed up as sheep. He named them as 'ravenous wolves'.[3] Through their actions, the bishops of the Church of England who voted to support the prayers of 'Love and Faith' are misleading many in the Church to walk apart from Christ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said, 'What we have in this... decision... is, at its heart, the chance to publicly witness to Christ in the most difficult, distinctive and radical way." However, what the Archbishop of Canterbury and his supporting bishops have done is to lead the Church of England into apostacy[4] which is surely the greatest betrayal possible of their sacred office and ministry and an even greater betrayal of Christ and his word.

My heart breaks, especially for the courageous and faithful same sex attracted Christians in the Church of England who, out of a desire to honor Christ, have made the hugely sacrificial and costly decision to abstain from sexual relations with those they love. I say to these brothers and sisters in Christ, you are heroes! Stand fast in the faith and be strong! Many Anglicans are standing with you, praying for you and honoring your courage and faithfulness.

I call upon the bishops, clergy and laity who voted in support of the prayers of 'Love and Faith' to come back to Christ, constantly believe God's holy word and obediently keep his commandments. There can no place in the Church for erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's word. There is one path that leads to eternal life and one path that leads to destruction. Jesus never mentions a third way.

As the light of the Church of England flickers dim through the leadership of distracted bishops, the Lord has already set in the midst of the Anglican Communion, a movement of biblical truth and love where Christ is honored. The Gafcon movement is a global family of authentic Anglicans standing together to retain and restore the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion. The Gafcon movement, representing the majority of the world's Anglicans, is determined by the grace of God, to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world, freeing churches to make disciples by clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ in all the world.

Far from the curtain falling on the authentic faith of the Church of England, it is very much alive all over the world! Across Gafcon, Christ is being proclaimed in Anglican churches, people are confessing their sins and finding the beautiful freedom that is found in Christ alone.

While the recent developments in the Church of England are sad, disappointing and regrettable, they are of no surprise to Christ.

Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a tetraplegic at aged 17 after diving into the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay wrote, "Nothing is a surprise to God; nothing is a setback to His plans; nothing can thwart His purposes; and nothing is beyond His control. His sovereignty is absolute. Everything that happens is uniquely ordained by God. Sovereignty is a weighty thing to ascribe to the nature and character of God. Yet if He were not sovereign, He would not be God. The Bible is clear that God is in control of everything that happens." [5]

Bishop J.C. Ryle, the first Bishop of Liverpool wrote, "Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God's hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as "chance", "luck", or "accident" in the Christian journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God: and all things are 'working together' for the believer's good." [6]

We can be confident, that the Church of Jesus Christ which is faithful to him through his word will prevail and the gates of hades will not prevail against it.

Tho' with a scornful wonder
the world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
their cry goes up, "How long?"
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.


[1] Romans 10:17, ESV
[2] Article XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
[3] Matthew 7:15
[4] Apostacy: If someone is accused of apostasy, they are accused of abandoning their religious faith, political loyalties, or principles. http://www.collinsdictionary.com
[5] Is God Really in Control, Joni and Friends, 1987
[6] The Sovereign Hand of God by J.C. Ryle

The Rt. Rev. Julian Dobbs is bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the province of the Anglican Church in North America

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top