A DECLARATION has been posted to the doors of cathedrals this week in protest at the Church’s “corrupt” stance on same-sex relationships.
The stunt mimics the story of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of a chapel in Wittenberg, Germany, 500 years ago on Tuesday, seen as the beginning of the Reformation. The anniversary has been celebrated variously across the world this week (News, 3 November).
The document, the Southwark Declaration, which contains five statements, was first published in 2015. It affirms the “supreme authority” of the scriptures and calls on Church leaders to uphold the doctrine that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman.
It was first posted to the doors of St Paul’s and Southwark cathedrals in London on Tuesday night, and has since been attached to Hereford, Rochester, and Canterbury cathedrals (with blu-tack, not nails).
An accompanying statement, written anonymously by a Church of England priest and signed by more than 60 others, accuses the Church of “revisionism”.
The statement says: “The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice on the ground has already changed: clergy are already adopting lifestyles which are not biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God.
“This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across the Church of England. It is weakening and destroying the Church as it has done in the United States and Canada. When the Church redefines sin and eliminates repentance, it can no longer offer the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus; the Church no longer remains distinctly Christian.”
Bishops have “a narrow window” until the next General Synod in February, it says, to “regain the confidence of Bible believing Anglicans” and avoid “rupturing” the Anglican Communion.
The declaration was posted outside Canterbury Cathedral on Wednesday by the Vicar of St James’, Westgate-on-Sea, the Revd Stephen Rae. Explaining his decision in a statement on Friday, he says that the building had become “synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty” and “stands accused as a distracted and negligent parent that has abandoned its children”.
“God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance. If a leader of the Church does this, he has misunderstood his calling. We are to hold out to a radically inclusive gospel that leads to repentance and faith.”
A priest who posted the document at Hereford Cathedral wrote anonymously that the notice serviced as call to repentance and “final plea” to the bishops to protect biblical teachings: “On the anniversary of the Reformation, this notice recognises the urgency of the current situation, where that Lordship is being rapidly sacrificed and given over to revisionism and the contemporary idols and demands of our secular culture.”
On Tuesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury called for “unity in our diversity” during his sermon at the at the Reformation anniversary service at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday. “Luther set the gospel free, and as human beings we seek continually to imprison it behind ritual and authority — or to make it serve politics or causes. Will we be willing ourselves to be reformed again and always, setting aside our differences because we are caught up in the grace that is found through faith?”
The protest is being documented by a new Twitter account @Turbulentparson.