A Statement of the Board of Gafcon Australia – Appellate Tribunal Matters November 2020
The sheep follow (me) because they know (my) voice … I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:4, 10.
Gafcon Australia exists to promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Anglican Church of Australia. We are convinced that the fullness of life that only Jesus gives is experienced through hearing, trusting and obeying his word of grace and life, in the power of his Spirit and the fellowship of his people. For this reason, the Board of Gafcon Australia expresses its deep regret that the recent majority opinion of the Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia relies upon a disputed definition of the meaning of ‘doctrine’ rather than on a whole-hearted and glad embrace of the life-giving Word of God. In doing so, they have seriously undermined the basis of national unity in our church. We regard their conclusions as erroneous and unconvincing.
A majority of the Appellate Tribunal affirmed that certain legislation passed by two Australian Dioceses was ‘not inconsistent with the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution’. In doing so, the Appellate Tribunal declined to follow advice they had requested from two other Australian Anglican bodies – the House of Bishops and the Board of Assessors. Both of these bodies unanimously affirmed the historic and biblical teaching on personal sexual ethics. The General Synod will respond to the opinion at its meeting in May/June next year. It is possible, indeed likely, that in the meantime some Dioceses will take steps to authorise their own services of blessing of same-sex marriages in the near future.
Around the Anglican Communion where developments of this kind have occurred (notably, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland) orthodox Anglicans have found themselves ostracised or isolated from their own Dioceses and Bishops.
Gafcon Australia assures Anglicans who affirm the Scriptures as ‘the ultimate rule and standard of faith given by inspiration of God and containing all things necessary for salvation’ (to quote the Constitution) that we will support and assist you in maintaining a faithful Anglican witness. If you would like support or advice, please contact us through our website (gafconaustralia.org) or email [email protected].
The teaching of Scripture is that while marriage is not necessary for salvation nor for the experience of life to the full, obedience to God’s Word is. The Lord brings about in us what he commands, whatever our marital status or sexuality. The gift of marriage, in accordance with the doctrine of Christ as it is clearly taught in Scripture and expressed in the Book of Common Prayer is ‘an honourable estate’ given for the union of one man to one woman for, among other purposes, the raising of children. Likewise, those who are not married, through their union with Christ, are holy and called to lives of chastity and fruitful, joyful service of the Lord.
The advice provided to the Appellate Tribunal by the Board of Assessors and the House of Bishops deserves close reading. The Board of Gafcon Australia thanks the members of the Board of Assessors and the House of Bishops for their clear and faithful exposition of the Scriptures in these matters. We are also grateful for the minority opinion of the Appellate Tribunal which eschewed the narrow reading of ‘doctrine’ in the majority opinion and upheld the teaching of Scripture. Please read it for your encouragement. All the reports can be found here.
We urge you to join us in prayer for ourselves and our Anglican Church; to continue to repent of the ways in which we fall short of God’s standards, and to humbly and boldly stand upon the sufficiency, authority, truth and beauty of God’s Word. We urge you to make the most of opportunities to engage in Diocesan Synods and other processes to express commitment to the authority of Scripture and the biblical pattern of discipleship, and to ‘exhort and rebuke with all authority’ those who oppose sound teaching (Titus 2:15).
Gafcon Australia gives thanks for all Anglicans who hold to God’s Word and live faithfully and fruitfully in radically counter-cultural ways, including chastity in singleness and faithfulness in biblical marriage. We acknowledge all such brothers and sisters, single, married, same-sex attracted and ‘straight’. You are dear to us and precious to the Lord. We acknowledge that confusion in these vital and personal matters does not serve us well, and we lament the unhappy division and lack of agreement about such basic matters of faith and practice in our church.
Gafcon Australia exists to promote the gospel across our nation and to support faithful Anglican ministry wherever it exists. Particularly in light of these recent events, please contact us at [email protected] if we can assist you in prayer and fellowship.
Gafcon is hosting an Australasian Conference in July 2021. Further information can be found at gafconaustralia.org/conference2021. Please plan to attend as we seek to see the biblical gospel faithfully proclaimed throughout Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia. Please pray for our Anglican Church of Australia as we continue to seek to serve the Lord and his gospel in Spirit and in truth.
The Ven Stephen Carnaby
Diocese of Tasmania
The Rev Jennifer Hercott
Diocese of Rockhampton
The Rev Paul Hunt
Diocese of Adelaide
The Rev Joshua Kuswadi
Diocese of the Northern Territory
Mrs Fiona McLean
Diocese of Melbourne
The Very Rev Kanishka Raffel
Diocese of Sydney
The Rev Trevor Saggers
Diocese of North Queensland
Dr Laurie Scandrett
Diocese of Sydney
Dr Claire Smith
Diocese of Sydney
The Rev Peter Smith
Diocese of Perth