Lessons from Lambeth
September 10, 1998
Decisions made by Anglican bishops at the recent Lambeth Conference are instructive.
First, when confronted with modern liberalism’s stock demand to study an issue that has been studied for decades without bringing new information to light, the bishops just said “No!”
Adultery, fornication and homosexual behavior remain outside God’s revealed will for humanity. No amount of dialogue can alter that reality. Indeed, one might wonder why evangelicals would even be willing to put such issues on the table. In a spirit of ecumenism, Presbyterians might learn a valuable lesson from the bishops’ faithful refusal to debate ways in which to compromise the Word of God.
Lambeth also helped bring modern liberalism’s view of the Third World into sharper focus. As long as African and Asian religious and political leaders march in mindless lockstep with them, liberals are quick to pat them on the head, and to pat themselves on the back for being tolerant and inclusive. But when Third World Christians speak out in favor of historic Christian faith and practice, in other words, when they begin to wander from liberalism’s intellectual plantation, they are lambasted as corrupt, uneducated and unChristian. In any other context such attacks would not merely be labeled patronizing, they would be recognized as racist.
But perhaps the most far-reaching lesson from Lambeth is that historic Christian orthodoxy is thriving while its liberal substitute is dying. The Episcopal Church has roughly 2.4 million members in the United States. There are an estimated 27 million Anglicans in Africa. Those numbers, like the 88 percent vote in favor of the Lambeth sexuality statement, are an encouraging reminder that while mainline Protestant denominations may be withering in the United States and Europe, the Church is alive and well around the world.
Delegates attending the World Council of Churches Assembly in Zimbabwe this December might wish to keep the Lambeth Conference in mind as they meet.