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Lambeth XV: Exposing the Darkness Within

As predicted, false teachers are speaking out at the Anglican meeting of Lambeth XV this week.  The focus is on a resolution from 1998 (Lambeth I.10) that affirmed that marriage can only be between a man and a woman and that taught that homosexuality is incompatible with Scripture.  At this international conference, instead of ‘resolutions’ certain ‘calls’ are being given, and attending bishops are asked to state their level of affirmation.  One call addresses this 1998 understanding of sexuality and marriage—an understanding the Church has always held.  Yet some whole ‘provinces’ or regions in the world and some bishops and archbishops are emitting their own calls to reject this teaching and to affirm the Western culture’s sexual immorality and error regarding marriage over against the Bible’s clear teaching.[1]  The larger part of the Anglican Communion remains orthodox, but the Western provinces have fractured the Communion with their false teaching on sexuality and marriage.

If we are now to entertain the idea of ‘calls,’ we might note the ‘calls’ of the Jerusalem Council, Paul, Peter, John, and Jude to abstain from sexual immorality and to pass judgement on any false teachers affirming such abominations.  The Jerusalem Council called the Gentile churches ‘to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood’ (Acts 15.20, ESV and throughout, except where noted).  In stating this, the Council apparently was summarising and affirming the Leviticus Holiness Code (Leviticus 17-26) that established a code of ethics for God's people and the aliens [non-Jews] in their midst.   That is, the Church's teaching on sexuality, including that homosexuality was an abomination (Leviticus 18.22; 20.13), was reaffirmed by the Jerusalem Council.  They were also to avoid practices associated with other religious practices (eating meals associated with idolatrous meals).  

These two errors were repeated together throughout the New Testament.  Paul seems to have this in mind in 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.1, where he calls the believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in their idolatry and defilements of body and spirit.  In his earlier letter of 1 Corinthians, he warned them not to associate or eat with anyone who claims to be a brother in the church but who is sexually immoral, greedy, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or swindlers (5.11).  Rather than fellowshipping with such people, the church should pass judgement on them (vv. 12-13).  Anglican provinces such as Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda realise this full well as they have refused to attend Lambeth XV, which would involve partaking of the Eucharist together with these false ‘brethren.’

Paul’s own ‘call’ directed to the church in Ephesus was a clarion call warning of false teachers.  According to Acts, he warned the Ephesian elders that, after his departure, ‘fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them’ (Acts 20.29-30).  Writing to Timothy, Paul warned, ‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths’ (2 Timothy 4.3-4).

Peter likewise reminded his churches of the apostolic warning, saying, ‘you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, 3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires’ (2 Peter 3.2-3).  A little later, he adds, ‘For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error’ (2 Peter 2.18, NRSV).

John warned the churches at Smyrna and Thyatira of groups promoting idolatry through eating food sacrificed to idols (probably at religious meals) and sexual immorality (Revelation 2.15, 20).  He referred to them with names from the Old Testament—Balaam and Jezebel—reminding the churches that this sort of promotion of false religion and sexual promiscuity is a perennial threat for the Church.

Finally, Jude warned that ‘certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality [licentiousness] and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ’ (v. 4).

Calls to immorality by false teachers in the Anglican communion are coming fast and furiously, even though the majority of Anglicans in the world are Biblical, orthodox Christians.  Lambeth XV is exposing the rot and will greatly help bring the necessary split in the Church that has already taken place in most mainline denominations and is underway among the Methodists right now.  Having been warned of this by the apostles long ago, believers should not be surprised.  Yet they need to speak the truth in love, judge the recalcitrant sinners and restore the repentant, and prepare themselves for the persecution that comes from those intent on sin.

[1] Cf. Mary Ann Mueller, ‘Lambeth 1.10 Turning into a Slugfest at Lambeth 2022,’ VirtueOnLine; online at: (accessed 25 July, 2022).