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Will the new Bishop of London call sin 'sin'?

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The Rector of one of London’s largest churches has said his first question to the new Bishop of London will be whether they will “declare as sin what God calls sin.” St Helen’s Bishopsgate attracts nearly 2,000 people to its four Sunday services each week. It is one of the largest and most influential evangelical Anglican churches in the country.


First question

William Taylor, Rector at St Helen’s Bishopsgate discussed views on sexual ethics in a recent sermon on Romans 16. He endorsed the stance that former Bishop of London Richard Chartres took on the subject. The new Bishop of London has yet to be named. William Taylor said:

"We now wait to see what the new Bishop of London's views are.

"My first question to him or her will be: 'Are you prepared to openly to declare as sin what God calls sin and to summon all people to repentance and to do so publicly?'

"If the answer is 'no' then there is an 'unavoidable avoidance' for us all."


“Avoid them”

William Taylor was applying Romans 16:17-18:

“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Referring to verse 16, Taylor said: “avoidance” of believers who accept what the Bible calls immorality is “unavoidable”.


Self-serving Bishops

Referring to the phrase in verse 17, “such persons do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites”, Taylor said:

“And so, somebody like the Bishop of Hereford, or the Bishop of Buckingham, who flatly publicly denies the teaching of the Lord Jesus on marriage and sexual morality, is a self-serving man, an arrogant man who will not sit under the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

“And notice their tactics, ‘by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the naïve.’”


We can no longer ‘walk together’

William Taylor went on to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury’s idea that we should ‘walk together’ with those who disagree on sexual ethics:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, is now asking that all churches across the Church of England work together regardless of their views on this matter, and he uses the language of ‘good disagreement’ and of ‘walking together’. And the suggestion is that we should at one and the same time disagree on something that is fundamental to the gospel, and simultaneously join in prayer, the Lord’s supper, evangelistic mission and so forth.

“Now not only does this flatly contradict the ordination and consecration vows of the Archbishop and all of his clergy, it also flatly contradicts the apostle Paul here in this vital missionary letter.

“For that reason, I have made plain, both in private conversations and formal meetings with the current acting Bishop in London, that from now on as a church in all our relationships in this diocese we can no longer ‘walk together’ with those who take that position.”

He added:

“Now at this stage I don’t think it’s necessary for us to leave the Church of England. We’re not the divisive ones. We’re not the ones who have ‘walked away’.”


Sexual ethics a primary issue

St Helen’s published a letter to the Area Dean in the week following the sermon which indicated a split with local Anglican churches over sexual ethics.  The letter refers to the Bible’s teaching on sexual practice. It states that:

 “ …all St Helen’s clergy, wardens and church council members hold any sexual practice outside of the marriage between one man and one woman to be a matter of primary importance and not merely a ‘secondary matter’ or ‘adiaphora’ over which faithful Christian disciples can ‘agree to disagree’.”

It goes on to say:

“For this reason, and given the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter, we (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen's) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to 'believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it' to be 'walking together' with us in any meaningful partnership.”

The letter states that the relationship with such church leaders is now “temporarily impaired,” meaning that “we shall no longer take part in some activities within the deanery that imply partnership in the gospel.”

William Taylor’s sermon is worth watching in full, and the full text of the letter sent to the Area Dean is reproduced below.



William Taylor’s recent sermon:

St Helen’s tweet with letter to Area Dean:



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