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Nigeria severs link with Liverpool over same-sex 'marriage'

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The Nigerian Archbishop has spoken out against the Church of England, after an American Episcopalian bishop, who supports blessing same-sex unions, has been appointed in the Diocese of Liverpool.

The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, who is also the new chair of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) said that a "line had been crossed" after the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an assisting Bishop of Liverpool. In February, the Episcopalian Church was disciplined by the Church of England for its approval of same-sex 'marriage'.

Twinned with the Liverpool diocese, the Akure diocese has now formally severed its links.

Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, and Wilberforce Director Dr Joe Boot, have both written pieces (respectively, here and here) with reference to the Church of England's ongoing 'conversations' about same-sex 'marriage', warning that there cannot be unity in the Anglican Communion if this is not founded on biblical truth.
 

'False teaching'

Susan Goff will be able to minister but not participate in ordinations.

In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Okoh said: "In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church in North America as a new wineskin in that continent."

"Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool.

"The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria's Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese."
 

'Globalised secular ideology'

The Archbishop continued: "The Apostle Paul tells us that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We therefore preach the gospel, make disciples and commit ourselves to prevailing prayer."

He believes that the "most dangerous attack on the Church" is not outside persecution, but a "globalised secular ideology which has established itself inside the Church."

He also believes that the "destructive" divisions of recent years have come about because some have "chosen to abandon biblical doctrine".
 

Nigeria 'cannot have link' with Liverpool

In a separate letter to the Liverpool diocese, the Bishop of Akure Simeon Borokini also said that the links between Liverpool, Akure and Virginia must be severed.

"Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia. Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool diocese."
 

St. Albans dean promotes same-sex 'marriage' in Liverpool

Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, who is openly in a same-sex relationship, preached at Liverpool Cathedral on 29 May, during which he argued that the Bible supports same-sex 'marriage'.

He cited the story of the Roman centurion's servant, as recorded in Matthew and Luke, arguing that the servant was likely in a same-sex relationship with the centurion – therefore, its inclusion indicates that Jesus approved of same-sex unions.

He also went further, arguing that the apostle Paul would have approved same-sex 'marriage'. "I'm pretty confident that Paul would say that a faithful same sex marriage can reflect the union of Christ and His church just as much as a heterosexual marriage can," he says.
 

Critique of John's sermon

Robert A. Gagnon has written a piece on his website which clearly, and in detail, outlines arguments against the points in Jeffrey John's sermon.

He concluded: "In short, there is no reasonable case for supposing that Jesus was supportive of homosexual unions. To the contrary: There is every reason to believe that he was as opposed as anyone else in early Judaism or earliest Christianity."

Ian Paul of the Psephizo blog has also written an in-depth critique of the sermon, explaining why the text does not necessarily support John's position. He refuted many of John's arguments, including the idea that Jesus' encounter with the Roman centurion is any indication of his acceptance of same-sex relationships, and his belief that Paul was not strongly against it.

"Jeffrey John's reading, quite apart from imposing his own sexualising agenda on the text (where there is no evidence for it) is either morally repugnant or logically incoherent," he says.
 

'Naked power play'

Ian Paul also clearly stated that Jeffrey John's presenting his interpretation as truth is deceptive.

"[John] consistently makes the claim that texts 'must mean this' when they probably don't, that Paul 'certainly would have thought this' when the majority think he wouldn't, and that 'this is what Jesus does' when the gospels writers suggest the opposite.

"It is one thing to make a case, even a contentious one; it is quite another to disguise from your listeners that there is another possibility. It is a bit like saying 'I am not interpreting the Bible; I am simply telling you what it says.' It is a naked power play, and is wrong whoever does it. Some would call this dishonest; others might label it deceptive. It doesn't seem to me to be a legitimate way to feed sheep."
 

CofE 'beginning process of fracture'

Most notable is Ian Paul's closing statement:

"Finally, I wonder what is the significance of [Jeffrey] John preaching this sermon in Liverpool Cathedral. Its bishop, Paul Bayes, has just appointed an active advocate of same-sex marriage as Assisting Bishop in the diocese, and last year he spoke at a service for LGBT Christians at St Bride's Church. Are these the signs that a diocese in the Church of England is beginning the process of fracture which has marked the Anglican Communion? I fear so—though I pray not."


Related Links: 
Did Jesus Approve of a Homosexual Couple in the Story of the Centurion at Capernaum? (Robert Gagnon)
Nigeria diocese severs link with Liverpool over same-sex blessings bishop (Christian Today)
Did Jesus heal the centurion’s gay lover? (Psephizo)
'Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done': A comment on the Church of England's call to evangelism 
Spiritually discerning the redefinition of marriage by Joe Boot

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