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Welby Mounts High Level Campaign to Lure Orthodox Bishops to Lambeth 2020

Welby Mounts High Level Campaign to Lure Orthodox Bishops to Lambeth 2020
The Lambeth Conference is now all about Strategy

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 26, 2019

Leaders of The Lambeth Conference meeting next year in Canterbury are pulling out all the stops to bring everyone to the table, even as a number of orthodox primates and progressive Western Anglican leaders question whether they will attend.

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the ACC (two Instruments of Communion) believe they have a strategy; but will it work?

Lines are being drawn up. On one side are progressive pro homosexual western pan Anglican provinces who have embraced pansexuality and homosexual marriage. These include The Episcopal Church, the ACoC, most of Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales, Scotland, Europe, most of Nthn. Ireland and Southern Africa.

Pro homosexual voices in the US and England are now questioning whether they will attend because Archbishop Welby has nixed the partners of several active homosexual bishops. At a recent executive council meeting, angry Episcopal House of Deputies president Gay Jennings questioned the pool of money TEC gives, and wondered out loud if it should be given if the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't change his mind.

On the other side of the ledger are GAFCON and Global South Primates primates and bishops who speak for more than 80% of the Communion. GAFCON chairman and Nigerian primate Nicholas Okoh has said his province will not attend with other provinces saying they will also boycott the event. This includes not only the province of Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion, but Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Central Africa, the Congo and a number of other African provinces, as well as South America and Chile. In all, a total of 27 provinces which were represented at GAFCON 3 in Jerusalem last year.

Another group of Global South primates who are orthodox in faith and morals, but are not members of GAFCON, must now weigh if they will attend. It is this group that is most vulnerable to the siren call of collegiality, unity and 'good disagreement' now being pushed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his two subordinates, ACC Secretary General Josiah Idowu-Fearon and Thabo Cecil Makgoba the South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, who is deeply sympathetic to same sex marriage. This province has been bought and paid for over the years by the Episcopal Church, USA. Loyalty pays.

It is this vulnerable group that Archbishop Justin Welby is appealing to and must win over if Lambeth is to have any meaning or relevance at all. He must make a case so compelling that they will want to come. Can he? He recently called 30 'baby bishops' to Canterbury to indoctrinate them in the ways of the Anglican Communion. He has called for a confab of all the Primates to meet him in Amman, Jordan next January, where they will undoubtedly get their arms twisted yet again to attend. Will these power plays work?

Herein lies the dilemma for the godly Middle East Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt. Mouneer is a team player, but is thoroughly orthodox in faith and morals. He hates division, especially in a country that lives on religious egg shells; a country that is 90 percent Muslim, nine percent Coptic and 1 percent Protestant and Anglican.

This vulnerable group is now the target of Welby's ecclesiastical big guns. He must persuade them that the Lambeth Conference is worth attending.

The bigger question is, should they attend?

The issue is not only one of theology, especially the theology of marriage and sexuality; it is also one of optics.

Imagine the first press conference and questions are raised about why some active homosexual bishops could attend, but not their partners. Welby will duck and weave, look testily at the questioner, but the headlines seen around the world will scream; "Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes gay bishops to Lambeth 2020."

For a godly bishop like Anis, this is a religious and political disaster. Back home his fellow Protestant ministers, his Coptic friends and Imams with whom he has good relationships will shake their heads and say, "why did you go?" The optics could destroy his credibility forever. One cannot imagine how he will answer that question.

This will be the question all the orthodox bishops who attend Lambeth will have to answer when they return.

They will be asked; was it worth business class flights, tea with the queen, shopping at Fortnum and Mason and lectures on 1 Peter they can get online back home, and from better exegetes than what Lambeth delivers...and why was Lambeth 1:10 not on the table, when it is the fixed theological litmus test on marriage and sexuality passed at Lambeth '98!

Two American Anglican theologians have weighed in on this, effectively dealing death blows to attending Lambeth 2020.

Anglican theologian Stephen Noll points to power as the overriding factor in what Welby is up to; "Pay attention to power." That's not squishy! "Inequalities of power have led to abuses in the past and will continue to do so... Power must always be acknowledged. Because everything that Lambeth Palace and its collaborators are doing right now boils down to the inequities of power in the Communion." He couldn't have stated it more succinctly.

The Global South Primates will be powerless once they go to Canterbury, they will be overwhelmed by liberals and progressives including Welby himself, and if they raise a contrary point of view on human sexuality, they will be howled down by a homosexual bishop who will declare them lacking inclusion and homophobic. In short, they will get the same racist treatment John Shelby Spong metered out to African bishops at the last Lambeth Conference!

The game of power is more complex...and the power players know how to play the game, says Noll. "Pay attention to power."

Even more hard hitting is Canon Phil Ashey, president and CEO of the American Anglican Council. He writes; "The faithful bishops who attend Lambeth will probably be shepherded by Anglican Communion Office "minders" to various huddles and gatherings apart from their fellow Biblically faithful bishops. In past conferences, their comments have been mysteriously omitted from official reports leaving no opportunity for dissent. If you are a Biblically faithful bishop present at Lambeth 2020, your smiling presence in the conference photograph will be taken as your unconditional public approval of what is expected to be the reversal of Resolution 1.10 (1998), the Biblical standard among Anglicans on the clarity and authority of the Bible as it speaks to matters of human sexuality, marriage, Holy Orders and leadership standards within the Church."

Ashey takes the gloves off and says this; Dear Bishops, what ground do you have to make your stand for the truth of the Gospel with other Bishops when you will have no common ground on which to make your stand--no consensus from the Anglican authorities...and the 2020 Lambeth Conference, that the Communion of Anglican Churches is first and always subject to and a creature of the Scriptures, God's authoritative word?

Paul, in writing to Timothy accuses false teachers of having a form of godliness but denying its power. He concludes by saying "have nothing to do with them."

The Anglican Communion, starting at the top has been corrupted with false teaching that has even invaded public worship (2 Tim. 3:2-5), therefore Global South bishops should not attend Lambeth 2020. There is simply no basis for doing so, it will confuse the faithful back home and ruin ecumenical relationships.

The Apostle Peter writes: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves." (II Peter 2:1) Global South bishops: Don't go.


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