“We are seeing not a mere power struggle but the clash of deeply held convictions.” Those are the words of Dr. Peter Jensen, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney [Australia] and a defender of biblical orthodoxy within the Anglican Communion.
The Archbishop was writing in anticipation of the historic meeting of Anglican primates at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. The meeting, which opened February 14, represents an emergency measure intended to provide what may be the last hope for avoiding a schism in the church over the issues of homosexuality and biblical authority.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. Jensen argued that the church cannot be infinitely flexible in matters of belief and practice. “It cannot be, if it is to be true to its calling. It has a task to bear witness to the truth that is in Jesus Christ. There are boundaries to that truth, and hence boundaries to the Christian fellowship.”
Christians sometimes have to decide that the truth of some major issue does not permit them to have unity with each other in the same way as before. We must be welcoming, but we cannot embrace indifference about doctrine and hope to survive.
The world-wide Anglican Communion is struggling with the issue of human sexuality. Despite the pleas of other Anglicans from around the world, the United States church consecrated as a bishop a practising homosexual.
Very significant numbers of Anglicans regard this as a clear violation of the Bible. They have, therefore, a broken relationship with those who have taken this step.
These words represent a model of pastoral leadership. Dr. Jensen carefully explains that the debate over homosexuality is not a mere battle for power in the church, as some have claimed. The issues of human sexuality now divide so many denominations and churches precisely because these are theological issues — sex has everything to do with how we understand the meaning and dignity of humanity and the right of the Creator to establish a normative pattern for sexual expression.
SEE ALSO: My previous article on Archbishop Jensen, “Why is Sexuality so Important to the Church?,” published October 31, 2006. In that article I cite Dr. Jensen’s address in which he claimed that a church that will not defend the biblical position on homosexuality will not defend the uniqueness of Christ.